Northwest housing group Torus is committed to strengthening the group’s response to tackling abuse across the whole organisation and this month as part of their journey to achieve Domestic Abuse Housing Alliance (DAHA) accreditation they launched the workplace Domestic Abuse (DA) Champions network, who will play an essential role supporting colleagues who are concerned about a tenant or customer who may be experiencing domestic abuse.
The DAHA was launched in 2014, establishing the first accreditation for housing providers. It aims to embed the best practice to address domestic abuse within the housing sector. DAHA has worked closely with the Home Office and Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government and continues to shape policies and strategies that change the housing sector’s response to domestic abuse.
Torus’s journey towards DAHA accreditation requires that they consider how they currently respond to domestic abuse as both a housing provider and employer and to make changes to policy, procedure and practice to meet the high standards and expectations set out in the accreditation framework.
Developing the DA Champion network plays a key role part in improving the groups response to domestic abuse, with DA Champions playing an active role in promoting and supporting the work they are doing on the DAHA project and on a Group-wide basis.
The 16 new DA Champions from across the group, all of which are passionate about protecting people from domestic abuse, have received training and will be supported and mentored by the Torus in-house Domestic Abuse Team and specialist domestic abuse leads in Torus Support Network to carry out their very important role.
The DA Champions network will be overseen by Anna Lock, Safe2Speak Domestic Abuse Service Team Leader, who said:
“We are so proud to have recruited and trained such a fantastic and dedicated group, all of whom taken on this role in addition to their current positions.
“The DA Champions will provide guidance and support to colleagues who are concerned that someone may be experiencing domestic abuse, helping them to access the correct policies, procedures, risk assessments and understand pathways into specialist support services.
“In addition to this, the DA Champions will also be a point of contact for Torus colleagues who may be experiencing domestic abuse in their own lives. We want our staff to know that, as an organisation, we take domestic abuse very seriously and we can and will offer support to those affected. Again, the DA Champions will play a key part – acting as a point of contact for advice and signposting.
“The Domestic Abuse Steering Group, which is leading the organisation towards accreditation, is currently working incredibly hard, continuously reviewing and improving how we identify and respond to domestic abuse and the champions will play a crucial role in helping us promote this work internally and supporting specialist learning events.
“We cannot thank the DA Champions enough for their commitment so far and wish them good luck in this new and very important role.”Anna Lock, Safe2Speak Domestic Abuse Service Team Leader
The new DA Champions network model has been developed to create clear roles and provide tailored training packages alongside ongoing mentoring. Mentor and Independent Domestic Violence Advisor (IDVA), Sarah McCormick, commented:
“Having the DA Champions is such an important step forward for Torus. It enables colleagues to develop their skills to recognise domestic abuse and understand the pathways to ensure that victims of domestic abuse are able to access specialist support that could ultimately change or even save their life.”Sarah McCormick
Talking about why they have volunteered to take on this new role, this is what some of our new DA Champions added:
“I was pleased to volunteer for the DA Champion role as I am aware of the hurdles that victims need to go through and can offer practical support and an ear to listen to. I am also interested in perpetrator rehabilitation and how we are educating our young people.”Lindsey De Bartolo, Torus Foundation Business Support Coordinator
“Often HMS operatives are the first Torus representative to visit a customer’s home in a while, so it’s important that our team have an awareness of signs of domestic abuse to understand how to signpost the customer to get help and support.”Gail Farley, Head of Customer Experience (HMS)
“With 35 years’ experience in housing, mostly working in communities I have had a lot of experience dealing with victims of Domestic Abuse. Raising awareness of and helping those who are victims of domestic abuse is very important to me.”Karen Loughran, Safer Estates Compliance Officer
“Domestic abuse is an ever-changing, so the ongoing development of skills and knowledge will be key to the success and longevity of the DA Champion network.”
Torus has considerable experience in supporting the victims of domestic abuse so if you or someone you know is affected by abuse, don’t suffer in silence. An experienced and specialist team is available to help. Find out more about domestic abuse support at torus.co.uk/domestic-abuse-support.