Bristol Zero Tolerance and the Hollie Gazzard Trust invited guests to attend the Behind Closed Doors conference at The Station in Bristol on 11 November 2016, raising awareness of the impact of domestic abuse and stalking on the workplace and helping employers to provide appropriate support for staff. The conference was aimed at employers, front line staff, agencies, CPS, Court staff, HR professionals and managers and highlighted employers’ duty of care to their staff in relation to domestic abuse and stalking and their legal liabilities. It outlined how certain types of abuse can escalate and how this can take place either within the workplace or directly outside it. It also covered how staff, management and businesses can be ready to identify staff who are subjected to abuse or stalking, to be able to handle domestic abuse and stalking and signpost staff to the correct organisations. Part of the Bristol Zero Tolerance initiative, it was also an opportunity for businesses to find out how they could sign up to the Zero Tolerance Pledge and take action as well as gaining access to Women’s Aid ‘Domestic Abuse: It’s Your Business’ training which is available to organisations and businesses in Bristol.
These conferences are vital
In England and Wales domestic abuse costs £1.9billion a year in lost economic output. This is due to decreased productivity, administration difficulties from unplanned time off, lost wages and sick pay. Domestic abuse may threaten workers’ safety and can impact negatively on employee’s health and wellbeing. It can impact on staff morale as well as organisational image and reputation. With research showing that one in four women will experience domestic abuse at some point in their lifetime, it is likely that all workplaces have staff that have or are experiencing abuse as well those who are perpetrators. Developing an effective workplace policy is essential. Very few businesses have a domestic abuse policy in place and even less have a stalking policy.
By working with businesses and raising awareness in the workplace this conference reached a large number of people across Bristol and the region increasing awareness and understanding of domestic violence and stalking and addressing this important issue. This is part of the wider aim of Bristol Zero Tolerance to create a Zero Tolerance attitude to all forms of gender-based violence, abuse, harassment and exploitation.
Key speakers included: Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Mountstevens; Superintendent Andy Bennett, Avon and Somerset Police; Shonagh Dillon, Paladin; Nicki Norman, Women’s Aid; and Nick Gazzard, The Hollie Gazzard Trust.
There was also a theatre piece from Alter Ego Creative Solutions of ‘Behind Closed Doors’ a hard-hitting applied theatre production that was developed in association with The City of London Police to raise awareness of the issues surrounding domestic abuse and violence.
More than 80 businesses gathered for the conference and Mayor of Bristol, Marvin Rees said: “It is a shameful fact that in our modern day society, domestic and gender based violence is still a very real problem for a large proportion of our population. As a Zero Tolerance City we are working with a large range partners to try and make Bristol a place where no one has to live in fear of this kind of behaviour.
“Behind Closed Doors is an event to let employers from around the city know how they can support their staff, who might be suffering from this kind of abuse, and ensure that it does not happen in their workplace.”