Tackling domestic abuse at Octavia Housing

Elizabeth Rowland, 09 December 2021

Building on the rich legacy of our founder, Octavia Hill, our purpose as a housing association is “delivering equality through homes, support and opportunity.” This forms the basis for Octavia Housing to get involved in the United Nation’s 16 days of Activism against Gender-based Violence against women campaign (25 November to 10 December) and help raise awareness around domestic abuse.

Our campaign began with colleagues in each of our 22 charity stores, designing the window displays to reflect the UN’s orange theme - which symbolises “a brighter future free of violence”, highlighting the action needed to stop Femicide. The orange displays were matched with White Ribbons to mark White Ribbon day. 

It’s wonderful Octavia as a housing provider has a unique ability to utilise our stores, spread across west London, to raise awareness of violence against women and girls (VAWG) and call on everyone to play their part in putting an end to domestic violence. 

In recognising the important role social housing plays in tackling domestic abuse and violence against women and girls, throughout the 16 days campaign we’ve organised a range of other activities aimed at raising awareness of our approach in responding to reports of domestic abuse. We’ve also promoted the help and support available to both residents and colleagues who may be experiencing domestic abuse. 

Domestic abuse initiatives

The 16 Days campaign has given Octavia the opportunity to share our best practice and initiatives we have implemented to tackle domestic abuse helping victims and survivors. 

This includes:

  • A new referral partnership with Solace Housing First project – We’ve been able to house women affected by VAWG, who in the past may have been marginalised and suffered multiple disadvantages. The impact of having moved into independent accommodation within the borough of Westminster with holistic, long-term support, has been very positive.
  • Sharing resident’s stories – Helping to highlight the effective work of our frontline officers who are trained to deal with reports of domestic abuse in a sensitive, empathetic, and believing way. Colleagues have also made effective use of the resources and expertise of our Octavia Foundation, which offers a range of services, including Employment & Training opportunities and grants to women affected by violence, to enable the purchase of essential items of furniture when they have had to transfer to alternative accommodation to flee from violence.
  • Recognising tackling domestic abuse can only be successful in collective partnership - We’ve also participated and promoted activities organised by the Multi-Agency Risk Assessment Conference (MARAC) Panels in the boroughs where we operate, e.g. Brent Council’s Candle Vigil for women affected by violence on 25 November 2021.
  • Informing and consulting with staff around our new Staff Domestic Abuse policy and procedures - Aimed at supporting colleagues who may be victims or survivors of domestic abuse and informing them of the valuable work we are undertaking to achieve Domestic Abuse Housing Alliance (DAHA) accreditation – which includes promoting inclusivity for all groups affected by violence and domestic abuse.

Housing associations provide homes for thousands of people, some of who may be affected by domestic abuse. As a sector it’s vital we do everything in our power to tackle domestic abuse and provide safety and security for our residents and workforce.