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Gentoo has signed up to a new national campaign to help it tackle domestic abuse in communities across Sunderland.

The Make a Stand campaign focuses on a pledge which has been developed by the Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) in partnership with Women’s Aid and the Domestic Abuse Housing Alliance (DAHA). Make a Stand was launched as part of CIH President, Alison Inman’s presidential appeal and organisations can sign the pledge the CIH website.

It consists of four commitments which housing organisations can make to support those who are experiencing domestic abuse. They are:

·         Putting in place and embedding a policy to support residents.

·         Making information about national and local domestic abuse support services available on your 
    website and in other places which are easily accessible to residents and staff

·         Putting in place a HR policy and procedure on domestic abuse or to incorporating this into an existing 
    policy, to support staff.

·         Appointing a champion in your organisation to own the activity you are doing to support people 
     experiencing domestic abuse.

Gentoo is a housing association based in Sunderland. They employ more than 1,100 staff and work with more than 70,000 social housing customers. Gentoo already has a number of measures in place around the four commitments and they are committed to influencing the housing sectors response to domestic abuse on a national scale. They do this through research, sharing best practice, partnership working and through the Domestic Abuse Housing Alliance, of which they are cofounders.

Gentoo has robust policies in place for their staff and customers. Front-line staff have been trained to spot the signs of domestic violence and they have specialist support officers led by a qualified Independent Domestic Violence Advisor (IDVA) working in local communities, helping to provide the best possible support to victims and their families. They are also partners of a programme that provides support to perpetrators who want to address their abusive behaviour.

To support staff, they have 28 domestic violence champions across the business that offer support in the workplace and offer a free family law clinic, where staff can access legal advice around domestic abuse.

Michelle Meldrum, Executive Director (Gentoo Operations) said: “At Gentoo we are committed to playing our part in putting an end to domestic abuse, both as an employer and as a housing provider. We all play a vital role in identifying and responding to domestic abuse.  This pledge is a great way for organisations to take action to support victims of domestic abuse and I would encourage everyone to get involved.”

Alison Inman, CIH president, said: “I’m thrilled that Gentoo has signed the Make a Stand pledge as this could make a very real difference in local communities. Domestic abuse is one of the biggest problems we face today. Millions of people are affected and two women a week are being killed by their partner or ex-partner. Housing organisations house and employ millions of people and it is our duty to do more to tackle this issue. These are our homes, our people and this is our problem. By signing the Make a Stand pledge Gentoo has committed to supporting people in its communities and it is no exaggeration to say that this could save a life.”

If you would like to find out more about Gentoo’s approach visit gentoogroup.comFor more information about the pledge visit cih.org/makeastand

Photo caption: Lucy Malarkey, Deputy Director (Gentoo), Michelle Meldrum, Executive Director (Gentoo Operations) and Kelly Henderson, Business Manager (Domestic Abuse).

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