CYMRAEG

Last week I attended the EHRC Exchange Annual Conference, in Cardiff City Stadium. The theme of the day was ‘Identity-based violence and how to tackle it’. There were excellent and inspiring speeches, particularly from Nazir Afzal, National Adviser to the Welsh Government on violence against women, domestic abuse and sexual violence, and a range of extremely powerful and moving testimonies from survivors of identity-based violence, which really helped to bring the issues being discussed into stark reality. Their stories were a powerful reminder to everyone present that we need to be actively listening to and engaging with these survivors when trying to form policy or procedures to tackle these issues; they are the real experts, and their experiences should be at the heart of any solutions.

At the end of the event we were all challenged to take on board one action that we could achieve in the next week that would try to change things: I pledged to write a blog for our Open Doors website, in an attempt to raise awareness amongst landlords and tenants in the private rented sector.

There were some shocking and disheartening statistics shared at the event (some of which you can see in the picture below), which indicate that identity-based violence is increasing in Wales, and it is my hope that by trying to ensure that landlords and tenants know where they can go for help and support if they have experienced or witnessed identity-based violence, then we can hopefully try to work towards a better future.

It is sadly a fact that some groups of people are more likely to experience violence and discrimination than others. Identity-based violence is any type of direct physical or verbal violence, indirect violence, discrimination or cyberbullying based on relevant protected characteristics.

One form of identity based violence is domestic abuse. The EHRC reported that 5,400 more domestic abuse offences were recorded by the police in 2016-17, compared to 2016-17 in Wales – this equates to 14% of all offences recorded by the police. Although the rise in these numbers could be due to an increase in people reporting, it is unlikely to be the only reason. Alarmingly, it seems that domestic abuse is increasing in Wales. 

The morning session finished with a quote from Desmond Tutu: “Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.” As my ‘little bit of good’, I am going to share a list of contact information for organisations and agencies that could help, if you are reading this as someone who is currently experiencing domestic abuse, or if you are a landlord who suspects that one of your tenants might be experiencing this. Please share this information with any other landlords, tenants, friends, families, colleagues that you know – hopefully, if we can make more people aware of what support is available to them, then we can encourage them to come forward and get help, and try to make a change to reverse this increasing violence that we are seeing.

If you are in immediate danger, then always call 999

The Freephone 24 Hour National Domestic Violence Helpline, run in partnership between Women's Aid and Refuge, is a national service for women experiencing domestic violence, their family, friends, colleagues and others calling on their behalf. The Helpline can give support, help and information over the telephone, wherever the caller might be in the country. The Helpline is staffed 24 hours a day by fully trained female helpline support workers and volunteers. All calls are completely confidential. Translation facilities for callers whose first language is not English, and a service for callers who are deaf or hard of hearing are available. The number for this helpline is 0808 2000 247

Live Fear Free Helpline: If you have experienced domestic abuse or sexual violence, or are worried about a friend or relative who is experiencing domestic abuse or sexual violence, you can call the Live Fear Free Helpline for free, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Freephone 0808 80 10 800 in confidence, open 24 hours. You can also email info@livefearfreehelpline.wales or visit the LiveFearFree website.

Men experiencing domestic abuse can also contact the Men’s Advice Line on 0808 801 0327. The helpline offers advice, information and support to male victims of domestic abuse, as well as to their friends and family. The helpline (run by the charity Respect) is open Monday to Friday 10am to 1pm and 2pm to 5pm. Calls are free from landlines and from mobiles using the O2, Everything Everywhere (EE), Three (3), Virgin, and Vodafone networks). Calls will not appear on BT landline phone bills.

Galop is an LGBT+ anti-violence charity. They can support people who have experienced hate crime, sexual violence or domestic abuse and can be contacted on 0800 999 5428, or you can email help@galop.org.uk or report to them online through their website: www.galop.org.uk/report

Bawso is an All Wales voluntary organisation, providing specialist services to victims and BME people affected or at risk of by Domestic Abuse and all forms of violence including: Female Genital Mutilation, Forced Marriage, Honour Based Violence and Human Trafficking. Contact the 24 hour helpline: 08007318147 or find the details for your nearest regional office on their website: www.bawso.org.uk/contact-us

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