PFCC funds provide free training for businesses to raise awareness of domestic abuse
Employees are being encouraged to help those who may be at risk of domestic abuse by learning the tell-tale signs that show their colleagues could be experiencing it at home.
One in four women and one in six men are expected to be affected by domestic abuse during their adult lifetime and one third of all violent crime in Essex is domestic related.
In response, Alpha Vesta launched a six-month pilot project in January offering bespoke training to businesses and organisations recognising the need to invest in this area for a healthier, happier, safer and more productive workplace and create a culture of understanding.
The organisation has developed a CPD accredited training workshop for workplaces, businesses and organisations to equip them with the skills to understand, recognise and respond to those showing signs that they may be experiencing domestic abuse or using abusive behaviours.
The Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner for Essex (PFCC) contributed £19,980 to the Bridging the Gap project from the 2019/2020 Community Safety Development Fund. As a result, the training is being offered free of charge.
Lucy Whittaker founded Alpha Vesta in February 2019 with an ethos that more preventative work needs to be done before victims and perpetrators of abuse enter the criminal justice system or health and social care sectors.
She said: “It is so fantastic to have the PFCC on board as it gives a massive platform to spread the word about this work. They are dealing with the response to domestic abuse every day; so much resource is being put into it. I have been working on this for such a long time and want people to hear about it.
“I passionately believe in this.”
With the Coronavirus pandemic meaning more people are working from home, the training has been adapted to be delivered online.
Lucy Whittaker said: “I have adapted what is usually a full day’s training into several shorter online sessions.
“The training has been adapted to consider that Coronavirus could be used as a trigger as it threatens the perpetrator’s control. We discuss it as a weapon and how it acts as a barrier to the victim.
“We talk about how important it is now to stay in touch with colleagues regularly, being very conscious of the language you use and being aware a perpetrator could be just out of view of your video call. Being conscious that people may be drinking more at home and struggling with children at home all day are issues to consider. We encourage people to watch the eye contact; are they conscious of time or having to come off the call or out of camera view? I have spoken with one person who was on a video call and noticed slight marks around the other person’s neck. How to approach situations such as this in a safe way are incredibly important things to consider.
“We are not training people to be frontline practitioners. This is about opening our eyes and ears and being savvy enough to notice things, but also to be aware of the risks and knowing not to challenge someone who you suspect may be a victim. Do not look at a situation and assume; what you think you see might not be happening.
“But, simply understand a bit better. Then, if that person does reach out to you, you are in the best position to handle it and understand how to get them the support they need. When people go back to work or school, there are going to be some who are traumatised as they have not been able to reach out. By engaging with this training now, it puts you in a much better position to spot the signs, to know how to talk to them and know very quickly and clearly how to signpost them to help.
“Now is a big time to be learning.”
Jane Gardner, Deputy Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner for Essex, said: “Breaking the cycle of domestic abuse is one of the priorities in our Police and Crime Plan. Working together with partners across the county including businesses and employers, our objective is to help those who suffer in silence and reduce the impact on children and families. This training helps people recognise the signs and indicators of domestic abuse and gives victims confidence that they will get the help and support they need. It really is a great initiative and one that we are proud to support.”