After a personal experience ‘inspired’ me to help others, I have recently qualified as a Domestic Abuse (DA) Champion for Reducing the Risk, an organisation who are dedicated to the safety of adults and children at risk of domestic abuse.
Research tells us that victims can go to as many as five agencies before they find appropriate help, advice and support.
Anyone can be at risk of abuse.
By having DA Champions in organisations such as ours, the aim is to dramatically reduce this number and provide a more joined up approach by working effectively with victims, making sure they are understood, safe and empower them so they can move forward with their lives.
A DA Champion is seen as a lead for domestic abuse issues and can offer advice and support to anyone effected, in a safe and secure environment.
Over the last few editions of Tenants in Touch, I have been writing articles to help raise awareness and will continue to do this.
For the first time in history there will be a much wider legal definition of domestic abuse which incorporates a range of abuses beyond physical violence, including emotional, coercive or controlling behaviour, and economic abuse.
The Act also makes clear that ‘domestic abuse’ can now occur in a wide range of different relationships and contexts, including amongst former partners, fiancés, co-parents, siblings and other extended and/or adopted family, whether they cohabit or not. In addition, issues such as honour-based abuse, female genital mutilation and forced marriage are now covered by the legislation.
The Act also has important ramifications for social housing providers – including changes for homelessness under Part VII of the Housing Act 1996 which came into effect on 5 July.
The Domestic Abuse Act, 2021 sets out some major changes to legislation in the UK including the fact that each relevant local authority in England must:
assess/make arrangements for the assessment of, the need for accommodation-based support
prepare/publish a strategy for the provision of such support in its area,
monitor/evaluate the effectiveness of the strategy,
must appoint a domestic abuse local partnership board including survivors to advise.
In August, I will be attending a seminar on The Domestic Abuse Act (2021) – what does it mean for housing?
I will report back after and see what we can look at within our own service area and how you can get involved!