On Tuesday 8 July, NFDA attended the quarterly EIDA’s networking meeting at the House of Commons.

The Employers' Initiative on Domestic Abuse (EIDA) is a network of more than 280 companies and public sector organisations who have come together, to exchange information about best practices, and to encourage, promote and develop action to help staff who are enduring domestic abuse, or who are perpetrators.

The main aims of EIDA are to:

· Help employees who are facing or have faced domestic abuse

· Teach employers/colleagues how to recognise the signs of people facing abuse

· Getting perpetrators the right help and support to stop

Attendees were welcomed by Elizabeth Filkin, CBE, Chair of EIDA who gave an update on new membership, and confirmed that 9 companies including Lloyds Banking Group, EY and Bidwells have now taken up the ‘Paid Leave’ initiative which offers 2 weeks paid leave for employees affected by domestic abuse. The initiative was launched earlier this year on International Women’s Day by the Vodafone Foundation and is now being adopted across companies in the UK.

There is also an updated domestic abuse toolkit for employers on the EIDA site created by Business in the Community (BITC) and Public Health England (PHE), funded by The Insurance Charities. This consolidates the best evidence and employer practice, and aligns with freely available resources. You can access the Toolkit at: https://wellbeing.bitc.org.uk/all-resources/toolkits/domestic-abuse-toolkit-employers.

Fiona Bowman, Managing Director at Dysart 57 Ltd shared her story of hiding abuse from employers and colleagues. She explained how she was being disciplined for being overdrawn and for poor attendance and couldn’t tell her employer or colleagues about the abuse she was suffering. Once her employer discovered what was going on, they carried out the following to help her situation.

  • Called HR - who gave her space and time to accept their help
  • Gave her time off to sort finances
  • Told her colleagues and ex-husband that she had left the bank
  • Transferred her to a job in a branch 400 miles away

Fiona has written a book which is described as an Autobiographical insight into the chaotic world of a victim. With a positive ending! The book is called 'Did I wake you pet?’ and is available on Amazon.

Rachel Griffiths and Darren Minton from the Employers Initiative gave an update on the Bright Sky app, a free and unique mobile app providing comprehensive support and information to people affected by domestic abuse, including a UK-wide directory of specialist support services. It is also a tool for friends, family and professionals seeking to support someone who is a victim. The app is free to download on the App Store and Google Play Store. The app is now available in 27 countries worldwide and has been opened 64,735 times. 15,183 users have carried out a risk assessment on the app and 15,064 have searched for support services. It has allowed early prevention of 2 Domestic Homicides every week.

EIDA is also participating in a new cross-partnership programme which launches in September 2019 to give employers access to bespoke support on domestic abuse affecting their employees. This pilot programme led by charity Hestia and backed by funding from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport, will be delivered by a consortium of organisations. Over the next two years, employers will be able to access the tools needed to strengthen their response and support prevention efforts by raising awareness in the workplace.

This will include:

· Assessment of current company policies

· Access to dedicated specialist senior advocates and counsellors

· Training for staff

· Use of an online portal that can be branded and tailored by employers

· Counselling provision - As part of the Everyone’s Business project, Woman’s Trust provides free specialist counselling (talking therapy) for female employees. They support women’s mental and emotional recovery from their experiences of domestic abuse. The project offers each employee up to 18 free counselling sessions.

· Specialist domestic abuse adviser - An in-house experienced specialist Domestic Abuse Adviser is available to support any employees who are or may be experiencing domestic abuse or violence.

· Amongst other things, the Adviser can provide confidential, practical, and impartial advice on issues relating to domestic abuse, child matters, safety, housing, legal options, the criminal justice system and court orders, and financial support.

For more information about EIDA and to become part of the initiative, visit https://eida.org.uk/