Croydon is celebrating international White Ribbon Day with further plans to change attitudes to domestic abuse and sexual violence (DASV) and to reduce offending.
Wednesday 25 November marks the second anniversary of the council working with the White Ribbon Campaign, the UK branch of the global drive to encourage men to take more responsibility for ending male violence against women.
The council is seeking people from a range of backgrounds, including faith groups, community, voluntary groups and schools, to come forward and form part of a well-informed network.
Croydon’s Clinical Commissioning Group has also asked all GPs’ surgeries in the borough to join this network.
They will receive information on the latest news regarding changes in the law related to DASV, what is working well to help people in other areas, and access to training.
The training will ensure they are equipped to offer their communities advice and support, including signposting to specialist services, enabling more people to receive support sooner.
The aim is to help tackle this crime on a wider scale by increasing knowledge of it, and raising confidence to report it.
The new year will bring further new ways of working, with the council training volunteers from Croydon College as student ambassadors to work in local schools to deliver an awareness programme about safe relationships.
Di Layzelle, the college’s head of student life and community engagement, said: “Our domestic violence youth ambassadors fully support the White Ribbon campaign and are encouraging young people at college to sign a pledge, to take a stand against domestic abuse, and not stay silent about men’s violence against women and girls.
“They are also keen to complete their training and to start work in schools, raising awareness about safe relationships.”
The council, Croydon University Hospital and Croydon Bid have also put HR policies in place to support staff that experience DASV.
The council’s new policy includes support such as flexible working to help employees manage their situation. Managers have also received training to ensure employees coming forward are assured sympathetic and confidential support.
Family Justice Centre (FJC) staff are also keen to get out and engage with the community to encourage everyone to take a stand against DASV.
“Domestic abuse and sexual violence is a horrible and very worrying reality facing far too many people – both men and women.
“As a council, we’ve nailed our colours to the mast and are leading the fight against what is, after all, a criminal offence.
“We’d urge faith groups and community organisations to contact the Family Justice Centre and invite the team along to explain what support is available to victims of domestic abuse.
“We see going out across the borough as one of the most direct and successful ways of addressing the concerns both of communities and individuals.”
Councillor Mark Watson, cabinet member for communities, safety and justice
Earlier work to support the campaign’s aims is already having an impact across the borough.
FJC staff have worked hard to build stronger relationships with the police and the council’s housing department so that victims receive quicker, more holistic care and support.
This includes placing an independent domestic violence advocate (IDVA) at Windmill Road police station and Croydon University Hospital since last year.
FJC staff have attended a college enrichment fair, momentum youth conference and faith-led events over the past year, with further dates planned to engage the public and raise awareness.
Crystal Palace FC and the Crystal Palace FC Foundation are also backing the campaign. The club is supporting the challenge to change attitudes through its ongoing sport and educational programmes.
If you need help, contact the Family Justice Centre on 020 8688 0100 or call the 24-hour national domestic violence free on 0808 2000 247.
If you need information and support to help you stop being violent and abusive to your partner, you can call the Respect phone line on 0808 802 4040.
The council also believes a national domestic abuse register would help the council and police tackle domestic violence far more effectively and is asking everyone to sign this petition.
At the time of writing, almost 2,500 people had signed the online petition, asking that the issue be debated in the House of Commons.
To add your name, go to www.change.org