Sunderland housing company tackling domestic violence

Michelle Meldrum
Michelle Meldrum

A Wearside housing company has joined forces with a charity in a bid to tackle domestic violence.

Gentoo and national domestic abuse charity, SafeLives, have released a report showing the housing sector has a vital role to play in tackling domestic abuse issues, both supporting victims and holding perpetrators to account.

It is so important for housing providers to tackle domestic abuse in all forms

Michelle Meldrum

Every year, nearly two million people in the UK experience domestic abuse and seven women a month are killed by a current or former partner in England and Wales.

Investment and training means housing providers can identify domestic abuse earlier, and work with police.

By including carrying out abuse as a breach of tenancy, housing providers can take a proactive role in holding people to account for their actions, potentially even evicting them from the home.

Housing providers’ staff can allow early identification of properties where abuse is present, so safety measures can be put in place.

Michelle Meldrum, Executive Director, Gentoo Operations, said: “We are committed to influencing and challenging the housing sector’s response to domestic abuse.

“We do this through sharing best practice and through the Domestic Abuse Housing Alliance, of which Gentoo are cofounders. DAHA’s mission is to improve the sector’s response to domestic abuse.

“Housing providers are in a unique position to be able to identify abuse and support victims. Gentoo has trained our front-line teams to be able to spot the signs of abuse and we have a number of victim support officers who offer specialist support – there is no doubt that this saves lives.

“By working closely with SafeLives to produce this important piece of research we have been able to develop a strong business case, helping us to get this important message out to the sector.

“This piece of research really has helped us to demonstrate why it is so important for all housing providers to tackle domestic abuse in all forms. It really is the right thing to do.”

Suzanne Jacob, SafeLives Chief Executive, said: “We often hear domestic abuse described as ‘hidden’ due to it largely being perpetrated at home. But, housing providers are in a unique position to work with other agencies, including the police, to identify abuse and disrupt perpetrator behaviour as quickly as possible.

“Everyone deserves somewhere safe to call home. We must work together to ensure this is possible.”

An improved housing response to domestic abuse can also have positive financial implications. Currently, nearly a fifth of all repair costs experienced by Gentoo are related to domestic abuse, with the average cost of repairs at households with domestic abuse coming to £1,200.