Employers in Cheshire urged to spot signs in campaign to raise awareness of domestic abuse

Julian Cobley and Jos Saunders of Cheshire East Council at a White Ribbon event last week

Cheshire East Council has urged employers to ‘Open the Door’ and tackle domestic abuse as part of a campaign to raise awareness of the issue.                  

On Friday a ‘White Ribbon’ event took place at Holmes Chapel Community Centre, which discussed domestic abuse and ways in which businesses and the community can encourage people to speak out about it.

 White Ribbon Day, took place yesterday, Sunday 25 November,  and is an annual event that aims to end male violence against women, once and for all..

 The authorities event is part of a wider county domestic abuse campaign, called ‘Open the Door’, which is specifically targeted to tackle domestic abuse in the workplace.

 In a national report, published in July, supported by Public Health England, it was found that an estimated 1.9 million adults aged 16-59 experienced domestic abuse in the last year but only five per cent of organisations have a specific policy or guidelines on the issue.

The Open the Door campaign focuses on a collective responsibility to tackle domestic abuse and says employers have an important role to play in society’s response to it. 

 The campaign encourages friends, colleagues and employers to look out for signs and symptoms of abuse, such as:

● Changes in work productivity; frequent absence, lateness, reduced quality of work, spending an increased time at work for no reason;

● Changes in behaviour or demeanour; out of character conduct, being isolated, becoming quiet, anxious, frightful, aggressive, obsession with leaving work on time;

● Physical indicators; bruising, repeated injury with unlikely explanations, change in pattern or amount of make-up used, wearing clothes that don’t suit the climate which may be used to hide injuries, substance misuse, fatigue;

● A partner or ex-partner stalking an employee in or around workplace or exerting an unusual amount of control over their work schedule; and

● Isolation from family and friends. 

 One survivor of domestic violence said: “My ex-husband became abusive soon after we were married. Without the support of my employer I would have struggled to get through my darkest days and I would not be here today.”

 Julian Cobley, managing director of Cheshire East’s wholly-owned Skills and Growth Company, said: “By making a commitment to respond to domestic abuse, more people will be introduced to support that they didn’t know was available.

 “We are here to support businesses to introduce work-based policies in their organisations and will be available to anyone that needs assistance in taking positive action."

Councillor Jos Saunders, cabinet member for children and families, said: “Our work to tackle domestic abuse in the workplace is a critical part of the Open the Door campaign and linking in with local businesses will help us spread the message further afield.

"That message is that we will never tolerate domestic abuse and, by uniting in this way, we are going to do everything in our power to stamp it out.”

Cheshire Police and Crime Commissioner, David Keane, has also been at a White Ribbon event in the last week, meeting survivors of domestic abuse and discussing ways to put more early intervention tools in place to minimise the risk to victims from offenders.

Further information on the campaign can be found at: www.openthedoorcheshire.org.uk

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