Extending Make a Stand to contractors

Since the Chartered Institute of Housing launched its Make a Stand campaign, more than 320 social landlords have signed up to support residents and staff experiencing the scourge of domestic abuse in less than one year.

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Collectively they own and manage more than 2.6 million homes – that’s more than 50% of all social housing across the UK.

We’re delighted with the progress so far – but we know that the organisations that work alongside us as part of the housing sector every day also have a vital role to play.

I’m talking about building and maintenance contractors of course but also organisations like suppliers, trade bodies and membership organisations.

They might not be in the business of providing homes, but they are also in a position to make a huge difference.

That’s why, in partnership with Women’s Aid and the Domestic Abuse Housing Alliance, we’ve developed the new Make a Stand supporters’ pledge, aimed at organisations that work in or closely with the housing sector but don’t provide homes.

It was launched at a domestic abuse awareness event for building and maintenance contractors being held by MD Group, Homes in Sedgemoor and the South West Domestic Abuse Steering Group at Bristol City Football Club.

I’m thrilled to report that a number of organisations have already signed up, including MD Group, the National Housing Federation, the Scottish Association of Landlords and MCP Property Services.

We hope they will be swiftly followed by many others.

The supporters’ pledge is made up of three simple commitments:

  • Make information about national and local domestic abuse support services available on your website and in other appropriate places so that they are easily accessible for staff, your members, customers or clients.
  • Put in place an HR policy, or amend an existing policy, to support members of staff who may be experiencing domestic abuse.
  • Appoint a champion at a senior level in your organisation to own the activity you are doing to support people experiencing domestic abuse and promote the campaign with your members, customers or clients.

My predecessor as CIH president, Alison Inman, and I have spoken many times about the way that the housing profession is ideally placed to help identify the signs, deal with the outcomes and help tackle some of the root causes of domestic violence.

We’re in these homes more regularly than most other professions – and of course that applies to contractors too.

Making sure that staff are alert to the signs of domestic abuse and know how to report any concerns could save someone’s life.

And of course, a big part of the pledge is about what organisations can do as employers – committing to support colleagues who are experiencing domestic abuse.

Times have thankfully changed since my own childhood, when domestic violence was a regular visitor in our house. Whether it was teachers, doctors, neighbours – even our extended family – no-one would help.

It seemed to me – a frightened child – that nobody cared.

You see, in those days over 50 years ago it was never about helping. It was a matter between a husband and his wife. No one ever dared intervene.

As I say, times have changed – but domestic abuse is still taking place behind closed doors all over the UK. As a profession, we have a responsibility to do everything we can to tackle this issue – and we are calling on our friends across the sector and beyond to join us.

As Jane Nelson of MD Group so rightly says – it’s a no-brainer.

You can sign up to the Make a Stand supporters’ pledge at www.cih.org/makeastandsupporters.

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