A County Durham housing association has received national accreditation for the support it offers to victims of domestic abuse.
Believe Housing has been recognised as among some of the best in the sector by the Domestic Abuse Housing Alliance (DAHA). The Seaham-based housing association’s commitment to anyone who comes forward to report a problem has seen the organisation become fully accredited by DAHA.
The “passion and drive of staff” at the organisation to help victims of domestic abuse together with “top notch” training has been praised following a two-day audit by DAHA.
The inspection included talking to a survivor of domestic abuse who has received support as well as scenario-based work with a range of frontline staff, and a review of policies and procedures. The accreditation process is designed to ensure that employees across the organisation have a deep understanding of domestic abuse rather than making outdated assumptions.
“Believe Housing are leading the way in embedding domestic abuse awareness across the organisation,” said Kelly Henderson from DAHA. “Their referral pathways are second to none, they have excellent partnership working with other agencies and their staff demonstrate true passion and dedication.
“We interviewed a variety of team members from housing officers to staff working on home repairs and maintenance and it is evident that everyone can see how important it is to assist customers in this area. I was also able to speak to someone who had actually been helped and I was moved to tears during my visit.”
Domestic abuse can happen to anyone, regardless of social group, class, age, race, disability or sexuality of the individuals involved, DAHA says. It is a pattern of behaviour used by abusers to establish and maintain power and control over another person.
Evidence suggests that people who experience domestic abuse can turn to as many as five different agencies before they find appropriate help.
One of the tenants who did come to Believe Housing for support was ‘Carol’ (not her real name). “They listened to me and believed me. I felt validated. They changed my life,” she said. “I’m beginning to smile again. There are moments, but every day is a new day. Other doors have been shut in my face, but this one wasn’t. I’ll never forget the help.”
Housing associations are ideally placed to spot and respond to domestic abuse as they are in contact with their customers on a daily basis. Trained staff are able to identify the signs of a potentially abusive relationship and offer advice and support to allow the victim to remain in their home, or to move to another property if that is the most appropriate solution for them. Often the threat of homelessness is one of the major barriers to women like ‘Carol’ leaving abusive situations.
Believe Housing’s safer neighbourhoods manager, Karen Gardner said: “Achieving this standard means so much to us. We have a team of dedicated staff who are committed to working hard and ensuring that any customer who comes to us is given the best possible support.
“Providing help to our customers wherever they need it is key to our whole philosophy. We aren’t just a landlord, we believe in offering real support to them, whatever their situation, as well as providing an affordable and secure home.”
Main Image: (Left to right) Karen Gardner and Amanda Fulcher from Believe Housing.