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The Chartered Institute of Housing is the independent voice for housing and the home of professional standards

'Make a Stand is of such vital importance'

23/08/2018


Tackling domestic abuse should be at the forefront of social landlords' minds says Rachel Honey-Jones, community regeneration manager at Newydd Housing Association - the first Welsh organisation to sign up to CIH's Make a Stand pledge.

Newydd Housing Association were proud to be the first Welsh organisation to sign the Make a Stand pledge. Providing support and a safe environment to live is vital and over the last two years Newydd has made real strides to ensure that we are protecting the most vulnerable in our homes and that they are safeguarded from any form of abuse.

We had a great platform from which to begin; Carl Sergeant, then Minister for Social Justice and Regeneration championed the domestic abuse agenda back in 2010, when he published Wales’ first strategy “Right to be Safe” for tackling violence against women in Wales and this was instrumental in the early development of the Violence against Women, Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence (Wales) Act 2015. Since this time, all housing associations in Wales have been accountable for ensuring that they have a domestic violence policy for staff and those who live in our homes.

We have also had the Social Services and Wellbeing (Wales) Act 2014, which came into force in April 2016, which placed a greater emphasis on local authority partners - including registered providers like Newydd - in terms of their Safeguarding duty. This brought both child protection and the protection of vulnerable adults into one piece of legislation. Since the Act, we have overhauled our policies covering domestic abuse, child protection and protection of vulnerable adults into one overarching safeguarding policy. This ensures that Newydd’s staff are aware of their responsibilities in relation to our tenants and can provide the appropriate support and have a clear reporting mechanism. We also have support for staff experiencing domestic abuse through our private healthcare plan including access to counselling, as well as clear defined HR policies within our Welfare at Work handbook.

Through a bespoke Level 2 safeguarding awareness course, which is delivered in-house, all of Newydd’s frontline workers, are given real-life cases to demonstrate how essential reporting can be when it comes to any form of abuse. As the designated Safeguarding Lead for Newydd and now the Make a Stand pledge champion; I have seen our incident reports increase dramatically as a result of this awareness course. While this is great that our staff are aware of the importance of their role as frontline workers, it is also a saddening fact that more and more people are experiencing abuse in their lives. With 43.2% of abuse taking place inside adult victims’ homes and 37.8% in care home settings during 2016/2017 in Wales, it shows the gravity of tackling abuse of all forms.

That is why the Make a Stand pledge is of such vital importance, and one which we, at Newydd, wholeheartedly support. CIH President Alison Inman has been inspirational in her adoption of Women’s Aid, and work with the Domestic Abuse Housing Allowance to get this unfortunately much-needed area of work to the forefront of social housing providers’ agendas.

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