Staff at Yorkshire Housing’s Home Improvement Agency (HIA) in Sheffield are working to keep victims of domestic violence safe.
They began a partnership fitting security measures at the homes of sufferers from August 1 after being part of a successful bid for approximately £30,000 in funding.
The grant is split equally between Yorkshire Housing’s South and North HIAs and covers Sheffield, Barnsley and North Yorkshire.
It follows a funding bid made by the HIAs and the Independent Domestic Abuse Service (IDAS) charity.
The South HIA team has significant experience in assisting with contracts of a sensitive nature due to working with IDAS and Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council to deliver the domestic violence service in Rotherham since 2011.
York-based IDAS, which started as York Women’s Aid in 1977 and whose patrons include Chocolat author Joanne Harris, will collect the referrals.
Yorkshire Housing’s handypersons and needs, advice and support officers will attend people’s homes to fit security measures and give safety tips.
Due to the sensitivity of the contract, HIA staff attend domestic abuse training annually to ensure they are fully equipped to deal with any circumstances that may arise during the visits.
Security measures include the fitting of window and door handle alarms and new locks.
Layla Walton (pictured), the South HIA and Internal Adaptations manager who is coordinating the scheme in the south, said help is available for both women and men.
She added: “This scheme is for the protection of anyone who is at risk.
“Perpetrators are often perceived to be male, but this is not the case. We are here to assist and provide safety measures for all victims that access the IDAS service regardless of gender.”
The work fits into the HIAs’ overall mission – which is to help ensure everyone can remain independent, secure and have a safe place fit to call home.
It is one of many schemes, including internal home adaptations, gas safety checks and promoting smart meter use among the over-65s, that Yorkshire Housing’s HIAs are involved in.
Layla added: “We’re committed to helping people live independently and comfortably in their own homes and in a way that keeps their dignity.”
The most recent Crime Survey for England and Wales estimated that 1.3 million women and 695,000 men experienced domestic abuse in 2018/19.
IDAS is the largest specialist charity in Yorkshire supporting those affected by domestic abuse or sexual violence.
More than 90 per cent of IDAS adult support workers are Safe Lives accredited domestic abuse or sexual violence advisors.
The charity’s services include refuge accommodation, including in the Craven and Hambleton areas, plus support for children and a free confidential out of hours helpline.
The circumstances of customers will be carefully monitored to ensure staff are not put at risk when visiting.
Layla said: “There could always be a risk. For example, the perpetrator could be anywhere around the property.
“We will therefore monitor situations by speaking with the customer and the referral agency to ensure nobody is put in danger.”