Yorkshire Housing is helping victims of domestic violence with measures that protect those in danger during the coronavirus pandemic.
Support from the Leeds-based housing association includes vacant homes being made available to customers who need alternative accommodation.
Staff have also received guidance about warning signs to look for and will refer anyone thought to be in danger for help.
It follows reports nationally of a rise in incidents – with the charity Refuge seeing a 25 per cent increase in requests for support since the lockdown began.
Julie Lawton, safeguarding lead at Yorkshire Housing, said: “People can move if they are involved in a domestic violence situation.
“We’re trying to make void properties available and can help with the sourcing of white goods.”
Julie helps coordinate action on the ground with Yorkshire Housing’s frontline teams, including those working in anti-social behaviour and lettings.
Staff have a factsheet detailing the steps that should be taken where there are concerns about domestic abuse.
Reporting the issue internally as a safeguarding risk is only the first of several proactive moves.
Staff with concerns about the immediate safety of a customer will report the situation to the emergency services on 999.
Less urgent situations can be referred to the National Domestic Violence Helpline on 0808 200 0247.
And Yorkshire Housing is encouraging the use of Bright Sky – a smartphone app aimed at those whose electronic devices might be monitored by perpetrators.
Julie said domestic violence can include psychological, physical, sexual, financial and emotional abuse.
These are among the warning signs Yorkshire Housing staff are looking out for:
- Unexplained injuries, such as broken bones, occurring regularly;
- dismissing those injuries as down to being “clumsy” or “accident prone”;
- and emotional difficulties, such as chronic apprehension.
Domestic abuse can vary in severity and approach.
But it is generally an incident or pattern of controlling, coercive, threatening, degrading and violent behaviour, including sexual violence.
Perpetrators can be a partner, ex-partner or even another family member and they may not live in the same home.
Figures show 1.6m women in England and Wales experienced domestic abuse last year.
It also affects hundreds of thousands of men, who can be even more afraid to speak out due to social stigmas.
Julie said the perpetrator should not be approached as this could escalate the abuse, putting the victim at even greater risk of harm.
She added: “We’re a business that builds communities, not just houses. Looking after people is part of the ethos of the company.
“And the onus is on us to make sure customers are not only safe, but they have the right tools and are referred to the right services to give them the security they need.”
- Useful contact numbers include the following:
National Domestic Violence Helpline – 0808 200 0247
Respect, The Men’s Advice Line, for male domestic abuse – 0808 801 0327
National LGBT+ Domestic Abuse Helpline – 0800 999 5428