Rathcoole PS and NU are proud to be a SAFE PLACE for everyone
‘If we all play our part we can stop domestic and sexual violence and abuse’ was the message shared by everyone who attended the Onus Awards Ceremony on 16th November.
Now in its 12th year of recognising the partnership working between employers, community groups, Churches and the voluntary and statutory services, Justice Minister Naomi Long, who spoke at the event said: “Domestic and sexual abuse has no boundaries and it is important to stress that anyone can be affected.
“The Department of Justice has already taken forward an ambitious agenda of activity and new laws including the Domestic Abuse and Civil Proceedings Act, which will protect those most at risk of abuse from partners or family. The new domestic abuse offence will cover behaviour that is controlling or coercive or amounts to psychological, emotional, technological or financial abuse.
“It will also capture patterns of physical and/or psychological abuse, by a partner, ex-partner or close family member and will also include behaviour that is physically violent, threatening or intimidating.
“Everyone has the right to feel safe in their own home and I would strongly encourage anyone who is suffering abuse to reach out for help.
“I want to offer my sincere congratulations to everyone receiving an award this evening. Together we all have a significant part to play in addressing domestic abuse.”
Head of Northern Ireland Civil Service Jayne Brady was also speaking at the event and accepted a Gold Workplace Charter Award for the work of the NICS in developing a policy and training staff to support any employee amongst the 23,000 people who work for NICS and may be experiencing domestic or sexual abuse. She said:
“I’m truly honoured to accept the Gold Workplace Charter Award on behalf of the NICS and would like to thank our Department of Finance HR team who, along with colleagues in the Departments of Health and Justice, took forward the policy and training work as a priority when the pandemic brought the issues of domestic and sexual abuse into even sharper focus.
Abusive relationships can impact greatly on the working life of victims. There is a huge role for an employer to play in keeping employees safe, by empowering colleagues to recognise risk, sign posting to help and supporting victims as they rebuild their lives. As one of the largest employers here we are mindful of research that has shown colleagues experiencing abuse can feel safer at work than at home and as we consider new ways of working, to retain the option for colleagues to access support from their workplace if home is not safe. We want all civil service colleagues to know that the NICS is a safe place for them.”
Onus are a local social enterprise which develops innovative partnership projects in line with the government ‘Stopping Domestic and Sexual Violence and Abuse Strategy’ with the needs of anyone, regardless of gender, gender identity or sexual orientation, at its core.
Colette Stewart, Chief Executive of Onus recognises that domestic or sexual violence or abuse can happen to anyone and does happen to 1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men in Northern Ireland. Through the Onus ‘Pathways’ initiatives, we can all play our part to support anyone affected access the support they need.
PSNI are key partners working with Onus to deliver Safe Place training in the community. A current project is in providing training to Community Pharmacists, supporting the ‘Ask for Ani’ initiative introduced during lockdown with Safe Place training, which provides signposting to the range of local support services and how Community Pharmacists can effectively respond to anyone making a disclosure.
Chief Constable Simon Byrne also attended the event, where Detective Chief Inspector Lindsay Fisher, policy lead for domestic abuse in Public Protection Branch spoke of the work of PSNI in response to domestic abuse.
Women’s Aid ABCLN works in partnership with Onus and local schools to deliver Safe School training that raises awareness and equips schools to recognise and respond to domestic abuse. Area Manager Fran O’Boyle says “When home is not a safe place for children living with domestic abuse but school is, I would encourage schools to participate in the Safe School training and know that you are creating a safer community and that it will make a difference to children living with domestic abuse.” Mayor of Antrim and Newtownabbey Councillor Billy Webb is a long-time supporter of the prevention and early intervention initiatives being developed through partnership with Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council. He said; “Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council has worked closely with Onus to develop new initiatives to ensure anyone living or working in the Borough gets the support they need if they are experiencing domestic abuse. We have been involved with the Workplace Charter’s development, alongside other employers to formulate a robust means of supporting employees experiencing domestic abuse, through policy, staff training and communication. I am also pleased that Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council remains integral to the partnership working alongside PSNI, Women’s Aid and Onus with the Safe Community project. We have achieved a lot together but we know that there is still more to be done and encourage everyone to contribute to making our communities a safer place to live and work. Even one person, on their own, can make a huge difference. Suzi Oag of Equality Period is a Community Safe Place Advocate for Onus and includes the signposting cards in Equality Period’s #hereifyouneed period care boxes which are available across Northern Ireland in a range of public buildings, cafes and restaurants. Suzi told they audience ‘we know access to hygiene products can be used as a weapon in abusive relationships. Being a Safe Place Advocate makes complete sense. I encourage everyone to play their part and we will make change’.
Anyone who has experienced domestic or sexual abuse can access support by calling the 24hr Domestic and Sexual Abuse Helpline on 0808 802 1414 or in an emergency, PSNI on 999. ENDS NOTES FOR EDITORS: 1. For further details, please ring Colette Stewart on (028) 2563 2136 or 07521726136. 2. Onus is a Northern Ireland based social economy business. For more information on Onus, please visit: https://onustraining.co.uk
Unfortunately not the ones with chocolate chips.
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