Orwell Housing Association has announced its pledge to support ‘The Make a Stand Campaign.’
Titled ‘Our Homes, Our People, Our Problem,’ the pledge has been developed by the Chartered Institute of Housing in partnership with Women’s Aid and the Domestic Abuse Housing Alliance. It was created to encourage housing organisations to make a commitment to support people experiencing domestic abuse.
The pledge also ties in with White Ribbon Day, which took place on Sunday 25th November. White Ribbon UK was founded in 2005, with its’ mission to end male abuse against women. On this day until 10th December is the 16 Days of Action. During this time staff are asked to wear a white ribbon and pledge never to commit, excuse or remain silent about male abuse against women.
Orwell Housing Association held their own special event at their head office in Ipswich to show their support to end domestic abuse.
Domestic abuse is still one of the biggest issues in society today. The true scale of the problem is difficult to determine because a large proportion of domestic abuse goes unreported, but studies suggest many millions of people are affected every year. Tragically, their partner or ex-partner kills two women every week.
Alison Thorpe, Head of Service, Temporary Supported Housing at Orwell Housing Association said: “As a Housing organisations we provide and maintain homes for thousands of people. A home should provide safety and security, but for many people home is anything but safe because they are one of many victims of domestic abuse. Housing can be a barrier to women leaving abusive situations and domestic abuse is one of the highest causes of homelessness among women.”
She added: “We have pledged to support anyone experiencing domestic abuse whether this is one of our tenants or a member of staff through providing information and awareness on support available to them. Domestic abuse has a huge impact on businesses and their staff. The human and emotional costs to individuals affected by the issue are immense and a growing numbers of employers are waking up to the fact that domestic abuse is a health and wellbeing issue.”
“Like all housing providers we know we can do more to tackle the issue and by signing up to the Make a Stand campaign, we are making tacking domestic abuse one of our priorities.”
In 2017, The Chartered Institute of Housing President Alison Inman chose to raise awareness of domestic abuse and support Women’s Aid. Vice President Jim Strang, who is now the Chartered Institute of Housing President for 2018/19 has continued the pledge to support the same cause.
The Pledge stipulates that the Housing Association must put into a place a policy that supports its’ residents, a HR policy to support members of staff and clear information on its website signposting to help and support services.
“We already offer Temporary Supported Housing services, providing accommodation and support to clients facing homelessness, issues around domestic abuse and those at risk requiring additional support to maintain their accommodation and move towards independent living.” Commented Alison.
“Therefore supporting this initiative made perfect sense to us, as an organisation we know all too well the implications and impact of domestic abuse from our work here in the local communities.”
One of the many residents Orwell Housing Association has supported is
Sarah. She wishes to remain anonymous but wanted to share her story.
“When I was young I was living in a house where violence was a daily routine and seeing my Mum being beaten up with whatever my Dad could grab was all I ever really knew. I didn’t realise what love really was and I didn’t realise that violence and abuse did not need to part of every day life.
When I met Ben at 18 years old, I thought this was my chance to be away from what I was experiencing and he seemed to be my only real hope. However it did not take long until Ben started to be very controlling of what I did, and insisted that he was only doing this because he wanted to protect me and make me safe from the world. At first I was so relieved not to be in my family home that I believed things would be ok. We had our first child when I was 20 years old and during the pregnancy Ben’s control and violence erupted. I was so scared but I was also tied to him, as I had no income for myself and no family I could turn to for support. I stayed and the abuse continued. I did try to leave and over the next few years I left many times, but always returned when he found me. He always found me or I felt isolated and alone and returned home. It just felt the safest and only option for our children and me.
This time is different. I am pregnant again and I am now living in refuge. I’m tired of moving, packing up and running I’ve been doing it for the last couple of years and I don’t want to do it all my life. I honestly want to settle down and just want to stay at one place where I feel my children and I are going to be safe and move on to create a future for myself. I don’t want my new baby to be born in this situation; I want a happy carefree life away from the violence I’ve been through for my children.
The Haven has offered me hope, the Haven has shown me that people do care and want me and my children to be happy. I am on a recovery journey and some days it feels too much, but I know I have the staff here to support me and this time I am not going back!
Orwell manages two refuges one in Suffolk and one in Norfolk for women and children fleeing domestic abuse offering accommodation and support and the guidance to positively move forward.
In addition Orwell has specialist workers within Early help hubs and housing option teams working with both male and female victims of domestic abuse.