March 2021: News from the Mayor

March 02 2021

Domestic abuse is everyone’s business

Domestic abuse and sexual violence affect the lives of too many people in our city.
The majority of victims and survivors are women, but these are crimes which threaten people in all walks of life and from all backgrounds. They can also have lifelong effects on children who grow up witnessing it in their home. And in the most devastating cases, domestic abuse kills.
That’s why we want to end it.
One of my administration’s first acts was to give victims of domestic abuse priority for housing, to ensure survivors have somewhere safe and secure where they can recover. This month, we build on that commitment by welcoming over £1 million of government funding to help the council meet the requirements of the new Domestic Abuse Act. This funding coincides with the launch of a report from the Mayoral Commission on Domestic Abuse, which sets out the principles that we want to underpin our city’s response to abuse and sexual violence.
The Commission was established last summer, when we convened a group of experts and support services from across the city to discuss the impact that Covid-19 restrictions would have on domestic abuse and sexual violence and on our ability – as a city – to support survivors. As well as responding to this challenge, we were clear that this was a call to action: to harness the energy and expertise in Bristol to improve our response to domestic abuse and help keep people safe over the long-term.
I invited Councillor Asher Craig (Cabinet Member for Equalities, Communities and Public Health) and Councillor Helen Godwin (Cabinet Member for Homes, Children and Families) to co-chair the commission. Over a series of workshops, they brought together local and national support services, charities and researchers to examine all aspects of our response to abuse.
To support the principles put forward in the report, commissioners developed 35 recommendations covering issues ranging from developing accommodation options, to how we help people recover from abuse over their lifetime, through to how we can prevent abuse from occurring in the first place.
One of the key principles that emerged from the commission’s work is the need to make sure that tackling domestic abuse and sexual violence is everybody’s business.
That means we need the whole city to unite and feel confident in taking action when they witness or when someone discloses they are experiencing abuse. We need businesses, community organisations, public services, support services, neighbours, friends and families to join us in making it clear that Bristol is a Zero Tolerance City for domestic abuse and sexual violence. You can help by checking in on your friends and family: visit bristolsafeguarding.org/areyouok for more information.
Help is available for businesses from Hestia, who have been commissioned by the government to help employers shape their response to domestic abuse. We are asking all employers in the city to visit Hestia’s website to find out how you can help support employees who may be experiencing domestic abuse: www.hestia.org/pages/category/everyones-business.
By working together as One City, we can fulfil our ambition to eliminate domestic abuse and sexual violence in Bristol, and help survivors to build safety, recover, and to thrive.