‘We’re all in the same storm, but not in the same boat’
I’m heartened to see that people experiencing domestic abuse are being pro-actively considered during lockdown. Especially since an estimated 5.5% of adults aged 16 to 74 (2.3 million people) experienced domestic abuse between March 2019 and March 2020, according to the Office for National Statistics.
A couple of years ago, I wrote my CIPD dissertation on the impact domestic abuse can have on the workplace, and more importantly what organisations can do to support those experiencing domestic abuse. What I found was every large organisation will have someone who is or has experienced domestic abuse. This experience will most probably affect them at home and work.
From this research Fujitsu signed up to the Employer Initiative on Domestic Abuse, whose mission is to enable businesses to take action against domestic abuse by raising awareness on the support they can provide their employees.
4 ways to support those experiencing domestic abuse
We know during the pandemic – a time of high stress and disrupted routines – incidents of domestic abuse are increasing. As an employer, and a member of the Employer Initiative on Domestic Abuse, we want to support people experiencing domestic abuse further by concentrating on four key areas:
- Using our skills: During this pandemic, charities have been disadvantaged. Many were forced to reduce or stop their vital helpline service because they didn’t have the IT infrastructure to work from home. When we heard about this we knew we could help, and we did. We worked closely with Karma Nirvana, Pankhurst Trust: The Pankhurst Centre & Manchester Woman’s Aid, Woman’s Aid Birmingham and The Dash Charity Windsor to support them in many ways. These included providing new laptops to staff and volunteers; implementing a solution to answer incoming calls anywhere, on any platform and at any time; creating an automated backup solution for case management; as well as producing automated reporting. These solutions enabled these charities to continue supporting those who needed it most.
- Providing consistent guidance to everyone: We’re acutely aware of the impact domestic abuse can have, and want to ensure that anyone experiencing domestic abuse has easy access to support. We want to make sure that if an employee chose to share what they were going through, whether to their manager, a trusted colleague or someone in Human Resources, they received the right response, the first time. This led us to create guidance documentation, available to all employees. The guidance covers what domestic abuse is, what support is available, what questions to ask, and also covers confidentiality.
- Making it easier to get help: We know it can take a huge amount of courage for someone who’s affected by domestic abuse to seek help or confide in someone. We want to make sure people have an accessible way of seeking the help they need. That’s why in the early days of the first lockdown, we launched a new inconspicuous confidential mailbox people could use to arrange support and alternative working provisions.
- Prioritising safety: We know the workplace can be a lifeline for people experiencing domestic abuse. During the pandemic, with the majority of people working from home, it might have felt that this lifeline had disappeared. Mindful of this, in our new ‘Home Workers’ Assessment’, we encourage managers to speak to employees about their home environment and work arrangements. Those indicating they are experiencing domestic abuse have been prioritised in returning to the office.
I encourage all employers to pro-actively review how they support people experiencing domestic abuse, and to join the Employer Initiative on Domestic Abuse.
We all have a responsibility to ensure our employees are happy and safe, especially when the lines between home and work have continued to blur. We all need to be doing the right thing and providing employees experiencing domestic violence with support during the pandemic – and beyond.
External support helplines
You can find more information about domestic abuse below:
Bright Sky is a free-to-download mobile app providing support and information for anyone who may be in an abusive relationship or are concerned about someone they know. To download please go to the relevant app store on your mobile phone.
The National Domestic Abuse Helpline
Free, confidential support for females. Available 24/7 by phone on 0800 2000 24/7 or contact the National Domestic Abuse Helpline online.
Free, confidential support for males experiencing domestic abuse. Phone 01823 334244 or contact the ManKind Initiative online.
Men’s Advice Line
Free, confidential support for males experiencing domestic abuse. Phone 0808 801 0327 or contact the Men’s Advice Line online.
Free, confidential support to members of the LGBTQ+ community. Phone 0800 999 5428. Please note that their opening hours vary depending on the day. Visit the Galop website here.
Free, confidential suport to those experiencing honour-based abuse and forced marriage. Phone 0800 5999 247. Please note that their opening hours vary depending on the day. Visit the Karma Nirvana website here.
Free, confidential support from trained LGBTQ+ people for members of the LGBTQ+ community who are experiencing domestic abuse. Phone 0300 999 5428.
Pankhurst Trust: The Pankhurst Centre & Manchester Woman’s Aid
Confidential advice, information and support for victims of domestic abuse.
Call 0161 660 7999 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Birmingham & Solihull Woman’s Aid
Supporting women and children affected by domestic violence and abuse. Call the confidential helpline on 0808 800 0028 or go to the BSWA website.
The Dash Charity Windsor
We support women, children and men suffering from any kind of abuse from partners, ex partners or family members. Visit the Dash Charity or call 01753 549865
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