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Government-imposed lockdowns amid the coronavirus pandemic has led to concerns about a surge in domestic violence. Women, children, animals, the elderly and vulnerable members of society who depend on others for their existence may be facing greater risk as ties to the outside world are cut.
Plumbers and heating engineers have always been in the unique position of having a window on the private worlds of their customers, and this sometimes reveals domestic situations that demand action. Installers who may have been accustomed to spotting issues like fuel poverty and general household safety issues may now be faced with signs of domestic violence and other abuse.
So what should installers do when they witness something concerning in a customer’s home? Tim Sainty at the CIPHE says: “We would never advise members to intervene directly but they should never be afraid to report any concerns to relevant authorities – including social services and the police. The fact that they are likely to be busy in the current climate should be no deterrent from doing this. It is also worth highlighting the potential for the family or individuals concerned already being on the radar of support services. Reporting really can save lives.”
The government has compiled the following list of resources for anyone who feels at risk of abuse. Guidance is also available to help perpetrators change their behaviour. Installers can pass on the information below to members of households who they think may be vulnerable.
If you are in immediate danger, call 999 and ask for the police – the police will continue to respond to emergency calls
If you are in danger and unable to talk on the phone, call 999 and then press 55. This will transfer your call to the relevant police force who will assist you without you having to speak.
The National Domestic Abuse Helpline website provides guidance and support for potential victims, as well as those who are worried about friends and loved ones. They can also be called, for free and in confidence, 24 hours a day on 0808 2000 247. The website also has a form through which women can book a safe time for a call from the team.
Women’s Aid has provided additional advice specifically designed for the current coronavirus outbreak, including a live chat service.
The Men’s Advice Line is a confidential helpline for male victims of domestic abuse and those supporting them. It can be contacted on 0808 801 0327.
If you are concerned about how coronavirus may affect your finances and leave you vulnerable to economic abuse, please see the advice provided by HM Treasury on what support is on offer. The charity Surviving Economic Abuse has also provided additional guidance and support.
Hestia provides a free-to-download mobile app, Bright Sky, which provides support and information to anyone who may be in an abusive relationship or those concerned about someone they know.
Chayn provides online help and resources in a number of languages, ranging from identifying manipulative situations and how friends can support those being abused.
SafeLives is providing guidance and support to professionals and those working in the domestic abuse sector, as well as additional advice for those at risk.
If you are worried about hurting the ones you love while staying at home, call the Respect Phoneline for support and help to manage your behaviour, 0808 8024040.
For more advice and guidance on domestic abuse, please see Domestic abuse: how to get help.