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Domestic Abuse Is Everyone’s Business

Morgan Sindall Property Services (MSPS) was recently awarded the Domestic Abuse Housing Accreditation (DAHA) for our work to tackle domestic abuse in the properties we visit – a first for a contractor. This month we also saw news that councils will have to publish strategies on how they plan to support domestic abuse victims in safe accommodation.

MSPS Project Manager Kelly Henderson explains why it’s so important we address domestic abuse, and how the accreditation came to fruition.

I have been involved in domestic abuse work since the 1990s, when I undertook a university placement at a women’s refuge. There I supported women who entered the refuge with a range of issues including presenting as homeless and finding permanent homes. I later went on to work in housing, taking calls about repairs, and then to roles including housing officer and interim Director of Housing.

After co-founding DAHA and completing a PhD in housing and domestic abuse, I was delighted to be involved in establishing the parameters for the accreditation for MSPS, after seeing first-hand their determination and passion to make a real difference.

As we’ve seen in the news, domestic abuse has sadly been one of the many areas badly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Karen Ingala-Smith, who runs the ‘Counting Dead Women’ project estimated that during the first three weeks of the first lockdown, there had been 16 domestic abuse killings of women and children in the UK, the highest for at least 11 years.

At MSPS, we have an opportunity to play a key role in recognising domestic abuse through our services and offering support alongside our partnerships with local authorities. This has been particularly important as over lockdown, our employees were some of the few people allowed to enter residents’ homes.

Our employees have undergone awareness sessions so that when they’re in properties they can recognise potential signs of abuse either in repairs, or in how residents may be reacting. This information is then shared with a named person from the housing association or local authority we are undertaking the work for who can discretely carry out checks with residents.

The journey doesn’t end here though, and as our employees play their part in recognising potential signs of abuse in the homes they visit, we as a business will also continue to develop and improve our processes to ensure those experiencing domestic abuse are offered the support they need. It’s critical we all educate ourselves on the signs of domestic abuse so we can identify when someone may need help.

To find out more about our DAHA accreditation, you can find our press release here.