PEOPLE who work in the hair and beauty or gym sectors in Tamworth could play an increasingly important part in supporting and signposting people in abusive relationships to get the specialist help they need, according to a Staffordshire domestic abuse support service.
New Era provides emotional support, practical advice and a range of advocacy services to anyone in Staffordshire affected – victims and their families, as well as perpetrators who want help to change their abusive behaviour.
Chantelle Thompson, New Era’s head of service, said: “We know the lockdown has brought added emotional, financial and other pressures for many people, and left victims of domestic abuse feeling more isolated than ever before.
“Whilst New Era’s teams have been continuing to support adults and children throughout this incredibly testing time, we’re concerned some victims might have been suffering at home in silence, either unable to or too scared to get the help they need, especially if they live with their abuser.
“Now, as more shops, hairdressers, nail bars, gyms and other fitness and beauty services start to re-open, this might be the first opportunity a victim has had to talk to someone they trust, such as their hairdresser, personal trainer or tattoo or nail artist.”
Anna Nixon, hair manager at Alchemy in Milton, Stoke-on-Trent, said: “Being a hairdresser can be a bit like being an agony aunt sometimes, but if someone chooses to confide in you about something as serious as domestic abuse, saying the right thing can make a real difference.
“Often it takes great courage for a person to admit they’re in an abusive relationship, so it’s important you know how to respond appropriately.
“After speaking to a specialist from New Era, I feel better equipped to be able to spot the signs that a client might be in an abusive relationship. This could be anything from unexplained bruises to someone appearing withdrawn and less chatty than normal. I also have a much greater understanding of the services available, and why it’s important to encourage anyone affected to get specialist support as soon as possible.”
Mrs Thompson added: “If you’re experiencing domestic abuse or worried about someone else who might be, our specialist teams can help and advise you.”
New Era’s confidential helpline for victims – 0300 303 3778 – operates 24-hours a day, while a live webchat facility is available via its website – www.new-era.uk – also day and night. New Era’s helpline for people who want support to change their abusive behaviour is 01785 601690 and is available during normal office hours, Monday to Friday.
During its first 12 months, New Era handled more than 6,000 enquiries from people around Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent and provided support to around 3,000.
New Era was commissioned in October 2018 by the Staffordshire Commissioner for Police, Fire and Rescue and Crime – Matthew Ellis – along with Staffordshire County Council and Stoke-on-Trent City Council.
New Era runs free one-day domestic abuse awareness Workplace Champions training for any employers/employees in Staffordshire.
Domestic Abuse Support
Remember, you are not to blame for what is happening. You are not alone, and above all, you do not have to suffer in silence.
Domestic abuse can encompass but is not limited to the following types of abuse:
Staffordshire-wide and Warwickshire-wide support for victims and their families:
- New Era’s Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent 24-hour confidential helpline: 0300 303 3778 and their 24/7 live chat facility at www.new-era.uk
- Talk2Someone Warwickshire have a confidential helpline which can be reached on 0800 408 1552 – lines are open 8:30am – 8:30pm, Monday – Friday and 10:00am – 4:00pm Saturday.
National support and out of hours:
- Women’s Aid Domestic Violence Helpline – Free 24-hour national helpline run by Women’s Aid and Refuge – 0808 2000 247
- Respect Men’s Advice Line – Confidential helpline for male victims of domestic abuse – 0808 801 0327
- National LGBT Domestic Abuse Helpline – Emotional and practical support for LGBT+ people – 0800 999 5428
Localised support for victims and their families (including safe accommodation):
- Pathway (supporting Lichfield and Tamworth): 01543 676800
- Staffordshire Women’s Aid 24 hour confidential helpline (supporting Stafford, Cannock and South Staffordshire): 0300 330 5959
Staffordshire-wide services for perpetrators wanting to change their behaviour:
- New Era Domestic Abuse Service for perpetrators who want support to change (across Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent): 01785 601690
In an emergency, always dial 999