Resident Scrutiny Team report - Make a stand review (December 2018)

The RST were asked to support DL’s ‘Make a stand’ campaign by reviewing the information provided on the website regarding domestic abuse.

Background

The Make a Stand campaign has been launched by the Chartered Institute of Housing and asks housing associations to commit to take action to support people experiencing domestic abuse. Derwent Living is proud to be the first housing association in the Midlands to sign the ‘Make a Stand’ pledge and over the next 12 months will be carrying out the four pledge commitments which are:

Pledge one – Put in place and embed a policy to support customers who are affected by domestic abuse.

Pledge two – Make information about national and local domestic abuse support services available on our website and in other appropriate places so that they are easily accessible for customers and staff.

Pledge three – Put in place a HR policy, or amend an existing policy, to support members of staff who may be experiencing domestic abuse.

Pledge four – Appoint a champion at a senior level in our organisation to own the activity you are doing to support people experience domestic abuse.

  1. Main report

 The web pages detailed below were reviewed by the RST with the following questions in mind.

  1. Is the information comprehensive?
  2. Is the information easy to find? Either using the search or by manually searching
  3. Is the guidance easy to understand and follow?
  4. How does the information compare to that given on the websites of other HA’s?
  5. Any suggestions for improvement or things you think are particularly good?

https://www.derwentliving.com/advice-centre/domestic-abuse/

https://www.derwentliving.com/advice-centre/domestic-violence-staying-safe-online/

https://www.derwentliving.com/advice-centre/safeguarding-concerns/

The RST have compared the information it with a couple of other HA's not in this area.

These are: - Adactus Housing, Beech Housing, and Chorley Community Housing, these are part of the Jigsaw Group based in Leigh, Lancs. It also provides help and advice to Professionals. Arthag Housing based in London, which has a Silver Award from Investing in People.

We also looked at Shelter, which offers advice and Safe Lives, which has an Operation Plan online, also Solace Refuge.

 Conclusions

First of all Derwent Living are to be congratulated for taking this issue seriously. There is much in the various statements that is basic common sense. This is a vast subject and could become quite complex, but simply put.

We found our website to be:

  1. Fairly Comprehensive and feel that as many aspects as possible have been covered
  2. Easy to find and reference
  3. Easy to find guidance on this matter
  4. I also looked at the other HA's already named, where they offered some advice but like us directed the victims to other agencies, such as Shelter, Safe Lives, National Domestic Violence Helpline Samaritans, etc. giving phone numbers and addresses.
  5. Our website offers confidentiality but does not say whether it offers anonymity to ones who may be concerned about Domestic Violence to others.

To repeat this is a good initiative.

Recommendations

  • Pledge 4 talks of a Champion on this subject. Has this appointment been made? It might emphasise the message if that individual was named and publicized.
  • What in all aspects of life often puts potential whistle blowers off is when they ask themselves what would happen to them as a consequence. We are sure DL would protect the caller and assure her/him that they would be protected but we feel it needs to be underlined in the statement.
  • Staff in the call centre who initially receive such calls, should know instantly to whom the caller is to be transferred.