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The Chartered Institute of Housing is the independent voice for housing and the home of professional standards

‘Taking a lead to tackle domestic abuse’


Karen Allsop, interim head of housing support and safeguarding at Bolton at Home, details some of the experiences she’ll share with delegates at the CIH’s Housing and Domestic Abuse Conference on 25 September 2018.

It’s a privilege to be asked to share some of our successes, as well as some difficult lessons learnt, when we speak with fellow housing professionals later this month.

We’ve long taken the view that housing organisations can only be successful in tackling domestic abuse and violence if they take the lead and commit the required resources to it.

It’s still not commonplace for housing organisations to have their own specialist in-house DAV team, but we feel it’s the only effective way to help victims feel safer, improve communities and benefit the organisation.

Being on the front-line brings influence

Working alongside the Bolton Domestic Abuse Partnership has given us influence and enabled us to be at of the forefront of tackling this issue. For example, we’re able to feed into the central database to collate trends and causes.

The main focus in Bolton currently is the affect that DAV can have on children and how is this addressed by the partnership.

We recently identified a gap in our service and created a bespoke perpetrator enforcement officer role to work alongside the team. This enables us to work closely with agencies to ensure appropriate risk assessments are undertaken.

It means that to even be considered for a property, potential offenders must accept support to address any behaviours that are highlighted as areas of concern, which could be psychological or substance misuse.

This approach means we’re playing a role not just in protecting victims but helping to change behaviours.

Demonstrating our worth to ‘the business’

Our work is funded purely by Bolton at Home. That means that as well as showing how we’re supporting and protecting those people who live in our properties, we must demonstrate that the service is value for money to the organisation.

However, the financial benefits are numerous. Rent arrears are just one of the side-effects of domestic abuse. The emotional stress of being a victim and the financial control often exerted on victims by perpetrators are two big factors here. We can show a tangible link between our work and protecting against lost revenue.

Furthermore, our interventions often prevent the need to move victims and their children. Just six property moves were required last year from more than 4,000 properties that were ‘flagged’ for domestic abuse and violence.

Best practice suggests that it’s often safer for victims to stay where they are, where they have other family and friends as a support network around them, rather than being moved to a community where they know nobody. Maintaining, family stability is a key part of our support.

Sharing our lessons

Some of the other knowledge we’ll share during our presentation at the conference includes:

  • How we’re helping victims make their homes more secure, including silent alarms that enable us to notify the police if we’re concerned for someone’s safety
  • How we safeguard and support children in domestic violence situations
  • How our team can support our own staff who may be victims of domestic abuse and violence
  • The work of the Bolton partnership, which is unique.

We’re looking forward to sharing our knowledge and hearing the experiences of others. See you there.

Event: Housing and Domestic Abuse Conference- making it your business

Join us on the 25 September in Bolton for a series of expert masterclasses which explore why housing should do more to support those experiencing domestic abuse. Hear how you can work with both victims and perpetrators to create a better future and get practical tips and advice on measures you can take within your own organisation, irrespective of it’s size to begin to make a difference within your communities.

CIH will be joined by:

  • Karen Allsop, interim head of housing support and safeguarding, Bolton at Home
  • Kelly Henderson, business manager domestic abuse, DAHA (The Domestic Abuse Housing Alliance)
  • Michelle Hill, CEO, TLC (Talk, Listen, Change)
  • Maggie Shannon, North West board member, Chartered Institute of Housing

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