Join the Retail Trust and Dunelm in our campaign against domestic abuse
By Chris Brook-Carter, chief executive, the Retail Trust – Raising awareness of domestic abuse could help the retail industry better protect its employees
When former bank clerk Fiona Bowman was left badly injured by her husband, nurses called her manager Graham to the hospital. And he was left stunned by what he found.
“I didn’t have an inkling what Fiona was going through,” he said. “But when I saw her in hospital, her injuries were so bad she was unrecognisable. She eventually admitted she was suffering domestic abuse and seemed relieved to talk to someone she knew she could trust. I knew I had to help.”
Years of domestic abuse had left Fiona feeling ashamed and she had gone to pains to hide her suffering from friends, family and colleagues.
“You’ll tell people everything’s fine when it’s not,” she said, “and even though they might know you’re not really OK, they often don’t have the courage to ask more questions.”
But Graham’s help and the support of Fiona’s employer’s HR team made it possible for Fiona to finally able to escape her violent marriage as she was transferred to another branch of the bank 400 miles away.
“Having the support of my employers as I rebuilt my life meant the world to me,” she said.
Fiona’s story highlights the crucial role employers can play in helping victims of domestic abuse, amidst a shocking rise in calls for help over the last year. In March, Refuge reported a 60 per cent increase in calls and messages compared to last year and at the Retail Trust, we are now providing more counselling services for retail workers experiencing this abuse than ever before.
This is why the Retail Trust, in partnership with Dunelm and the Domestic Abuse Alliance, has launched the retail industry against domestic abuse (RIADA) campaign. Together, we want to raise awareness of how the retail sector can support employees facing domestic abuse and we’re urging businesses from across the industry to join us and help more people in Fiona’s situation.
From displaying helpline numbers in your staffroom and making sure everyone understands the signs of abuse, to arranging an employee’s transfer to another shop branch, we can all do something to help. And by signing up for RIADA, retailers can download a range of resources, including template domestic abuse policies and guidance for managers and employees that outlines the key signs of abuse and the most appropriate ways to offer help.
You can sign up for the campaign by going to the Retail Trust’s website. And once you’ve joined us, we’re asking you take three key measures.
- Create a domestic abuse policy to raise awareness among colleagues and make it easier for employees to speak out.
- Educate managers to recognise the signs of abuse and understand how to approach colleagues and offer practical support.
- Join the Employers’ Initiative on Domestic Abuse (EIDA), which provides free reports and resources to aid employers.
“The home should be a place where you feel comfortable and safe, but we know this isn’t always the case,” says Josie Dickinson, inclusion, diversity and wellbeing senior manager at Dunelm. “As part of RIADA, we feel a real sense of responsibility to educate and support our colleagues.”
“We’ve worked alongside the Retail Trust to create a manager’s guide and policy as a starting point, and are going to be training all our managers on domestic abuse awareness and signposting, too.”
Signing up to RIADA and spreading the word about our campaign could help transform the life of someone you work with who is currently suffering in silence, so make sure you join us today.
Go to retailtrust.org.uk to sign up for the campaign.
Retail workers can also access counselling, financial aid and referrals to the Domestic Abuse Alliance for specialist legal advice by contacting the Retail Trust’s helpline. Call 0808 801 0808