Winston Churchill Fellowship – Domestic Abuse and Housing: International practice and perspectives

13 September 2016

Earlier this year I got the AMAZING news that I had been awarded a Winston Churchill travelling fellowship. I am humbled and ecstatic to have this opportunity as they receive over 1,000 applications a year. As part of my fellowship I will be learning about international practice and perspectives on domestic abuse, violence against women and girl’s (VAWG) and housing in USA, Canada and Australia. I will be travelling for two months in total and will be blogging daily on my experiences so watch this space! The purpose of this first blog is to give you the background, aims and project objectives.

Background:

Peabody is one of the largest London based housing providers (27,000 properties and 80,000 residents) and has shown that Housing Providers can play a vital role in identifying and supporting families affected by domestic abuse. Housing providers have unique entry to the ‘hidden’ spaces occupied by perpetrators and individuals experiencing abuse, through regular contact with residents-carrying out repairs and community development activities. Housing staff are trusted and accessible and are considered by many as “different” and more approachable than the police or other statutory agencies. In the UK, on average two women a week are murdered by a current or former partner, 1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men will experience domestic abuse in their lifetime. Since Peabody introduced training, changed our policies and procedures and started proactively publishing our work externally and internally we have seen an increase of 1425% in reporting of abuse since 2008. This equates to 25% of the case load within our specialist Community Safety Team (CST) based at Peabody.  As a result of this we are seen as a model of best practice in the UK housing sector and have cofounded along with Gentoo and Standing Together Against Domestic Violence a national initiative, the Domestic Abuse Housing Alliance (DAHA) which aims to improve the housing sectors response through a national accreditation process.

Practices in governance and what legislation relates to housing varies globally especially in the context of their management and responsibilities in relation to domestic abuse. This project will enable Peabody and the Domestic Abuse Housing Alliance to share our work in the international arena and also allow us to learn, expand and develop practice in the UK in relation to practice, policy, procedures and legislation.

Aims of project:

  • Gather and analyse data about housing provider’s practices internationally in the context of domestic abuse and Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG).
  • Convene round table discussions with partner agencies in the countries visited to assess and compare international responses to domestic abuse and VAWG from the housing sector.
  • Share and learn about best practice in responding to domestic abuse including an in-depth comparison between the whole family approach versus a focus on individuals; multi-agency work/ frameworks; housing first models; work with perpetrators; risk assessment and legislation in relation to the housing sector.
  • Use the international perspective to improve and enhance practice in the UK through existing channels including consortia of housing providers, the Domestic Abuse Housing Alliance and in the role of the housing representative on the Home Office VAWG Stakeholder panel.
  • Provide evidence and examples of best practice to be disseminated at international conferences and shared with FEANTSA.

Project Objectives:

  1. Formation of a global coalition for Domestic Abuse, Violence Against Women and Girls, Housing and Homelessness
  2. Influence UK government policy on Housing, Homelessness, Domestic Abuse and Violence Against Women and Girls
  3. Input in to the European Parliament via FEANSTA
  4. Gather and analyse data about housing provider’s practices internationally including the Housing First model and produce a report on findings.
  5. Convene at least 6 round table discussions with partner agencies in the 3 countries visited to assess and compare responses
  6. Use the international perspective to improve and enhance practice in the UK through Domestic Abuse Housing Alliance, the Home Office VAWG Stakeholder panel, consortia of Housing Providers, Homeless LinkShelter, CrisisChartered Institute of Housing (CIH), RESOLVE – ASB, National Housing Federation (NHF), Housing LIN, Capsticks and VAWG sector.
Gudrun Burnet
@GudrunBurnet