rsz_2durham_uniNorth east social enterprise Gentoo Group is working with fellow housing providers and Durham University to tackle domestic abuse.

The new scholarship has been made possible by a generous gift from the housing sector and will fund new research into the housing issues faced by children who are living with domestic abuse.

The PhD scholarship, which will form part of the Centre for Research into Violence and Abuse (CRiVA) at Durham University, has been funded by a consortium of donors from the housing sector, led by the Gentoo Group.

The research will involve talking to children and young people who have witnessed domestic abuse, and to domestic abuse practitioners and people involved in housing provision. It will also consist of an in-depth, international literature review on interventions with children and young people and domestic violence, with particular emphasis on the role of housing.

Gentoo Group has a wealth of experience in this area. Peter Walls, Chief Executive, said:

“Abuse often happens in the home and as our employees are in a position of trust with access to the ‘hidden’ spaces occupied by perpetrators and individuals experiencing abuse, we are ideally placed to offer help. We have a long-standing commitment to tackling domestic abuse, but we know we can’t do it on our own.

“As a responsible business, we are encouraged to work with our partners to uncover new research and evidence so we can make the most sensible use of our resources. Through this scholarship we hope to help those who need help the most and eradicate the crime and the long-term effects abuse can have on victims. Domestic abuse can affect anyone – no matter what age, gender, sexual orientation or income and this research will provide a valuable insight.”

The PhD researcher will specifically look at the issues faced by children in terms of their housing needs, for example for them to feel safe or the effects of them being rehoused and/or moving schools.

The catalyst for this project was High Sheriff of Tyne & Wear and alumna of Durham University, Ruth Thompson OBE.

When she took office she was reported as saying: “Each year, the High Sheriff can choose an area to specialise in – and my goal is to help children affected by domestic violence and abuse.

“Domestic violence and abuse knows no class, no colour, no creed, and it exists in each and every community.”

Titled the High Sheriff of Tyne & Wear’s 50th Anniversary PhD scholarship, it marks 50 years of Sociology and Social Policy at Durham University.

A gap has been identified in current research on the impacts of domestic abuse in relation to children, and this scholarship will focus on what can both negate that impact and boost resilience and coping mechanisms from a housing perspective. This new work will be the first time that research has considered housing and domestic violence through a child’s eyes.

Professor Nicole Westmarland, Professor of Criminology in the School of Applied Social Sciences and Co-Director of CRiVA, said:

“Ten years ago, housing providers weren’t round the table – they did not see domestic abuse as something that was linked to their area of work. This new PhD research is particularly important as it will add to our knowledge in this area but more crucially, the consortium of housing providers are clearly acknowledging that domestic abuse is something they are concerned about and want to act on, and our research can help inform how they do that.”

The closing date for applications to the scholarship is on 27 February. More information on applying can be found at ttps://

Gentoo Group’s whole ethos is about believing nothing is impossible and finding new ways to challenge conventions, Gentoo aims to make society a better place to live and to make a real difference to the way people live their life. To find out more about Gentoo, visit for more information or follow @gentoogroup on Twitter.