Guidance for Aberdeen City Council Employees experiencing Domestic Abuse while homeworking due to Covid-19 (Coronavirus)
As directed by the government, due to the spread of Covid-19 those who can work from home should do so. However, there are specific challenges and potential risks for those experiencing domestic abuse in the home setting not only for themselves but also for their children and young people.
Those who live with an abuser may feel increased anxiety around the prospect of self-isolation and social distancing, or even quarantine. Additionally, for the many victims/survivors who do not live with their abusers, they may feel an increased level of fear at the prospect of their abuser knowing that they are at home, with the possibility for further surveillance and the opportunities for intimidation and abusive acts that this creates.
Anyone homeworking and feeling in a vulnerable position can make a safety plan. The Women’s Aid Federation of England has information on making a safety plan. There is also advice for covering your tracks online, and an exit site escape button on the website.
You may not have previously made your line manager aware of your personal circumstances, and there is no requirement for you to do this, but consideration of this under the current circumstances may be something to include in your safety planning, as for some a daily check in with your manager may be the only way you can alert someone you need help. If this is something you would find beneficial please discuss with your manager as soon as possible, when it is safe to do so.
As an alternative to making your line manager aware, you could consider contacting one of the following for similar assistance: –
- A People and Organisation Adviser (through calling 01224-523937 or e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org);
- a Council designated Mental Health First Aider;
- your trade union representative (if a member of a union)
- Contact the Aberdeen Domestic Abuse Team: on 01224 538000 or email DomesticAbuseTeam@aberdeencity.gov.uk
In a situation of potential risk, use the every-day phrase [Is Angela in/Available today] to alert your manager. This mirrors the national Ask For Angela scheme in pubs and clubs, and so should be easy to remember. Your manager will be made aware of this signal. If both you and your partner are employed by the council, you can agree with your manager what alternative word or phrase you will use at a time of escalation. On hearing this alert, your manager will ask you to attend a meeting at a Council building (ensuring that social distancing is complied with.) Leaving an abusive situation is regarded in the current situation as being an acceptable reason for essential travel and as such both you and your manager will be complying with the lockdown regulations. Alternatively, you may wish to agree with your manager in advance the action to take if this alert is used – for example the manager can call 999 for you, contact a key worker for you, or advise you to leave your house to seek help.
Confidential support as well as accommodation can be provided by the ACC Housing Access and Support Team. To ensure that your confidentiality is maintained, the housing management system can be closed to ensure that only the Housing Access and Support Manager and Case Officer have access to your information. If you would find such support and advice helpful you should contact MicMurray@aberdeencity.gov.uk
The Council’s Gender Based Violence policy and guidance can be found on the People Anytime portal or is available from line managers.
There are national statements from Scottish Women’s Aid and the Violence against Women and Girls sector regarding the concerns, possible impact and commitment to keep vital services in place but these too will be impacted by the current situation.
There will be changes regarding how some organisations offer support services over the coming weeks, keeping in mind their own staff’s safety, including providing their service over the phone, online, by text or by email. While services will not be able to operate at their usual capacity, national and local Domestic Abuse services and other relevant services will aim to continue to be available to offer support and guidance including safety planning.
Advocacy Service Aberdeen: 01224 332314
Aberdeen Cyrenians: 0300 303 0903
The national helpline is – 0800 160 1985
Aberdeen Violence Against Women Partnership
Further support organisations can be found on our People Anytime site here.
Employees can also access Time for Talking, the Council’s confidential counselling service on 0800 970 3980 or visit the website https://www.timefortalking.co.uk/ to chat online.
The UK Government has published guidance for anyone who is concerned that they might be at risk of domestic abuse, or that they might become an abuser, during the COVID restrictions. This guidance is available on the following link:
In addition, the Home Secretary has announced a new campaign to offer support to those who are at risk of domestic abuse during the current pandemic. Details of the You Are Not Alone campaign can be found here
Scotland’s Domestic Abuse and Forced Marriage Helpline: Freephone 0800 027 1234
Web chat at www.sdafmh.org.uk.
The helpline is there to support anyone with experience of domestic abuse or forced marriage as well as their family members, friends, colleagues and professionals who support them.
National Rape Crisis: 08088 010302 or www.rapecrisisscotland.org.uk/
Support for Male Victims of Domestic Abuse
Respect, Men’s Advice Line (Scotland): 0808 8010327
Survivors UK provides help for men who have been sexually abused or raped:
0203 598 3898
In an emergency situation you should call 999.