As an organisation, we support the Chartered Institute of Housing’s Make a Stand pledge, launched in 2018, and take domestic abuse incredibly seriously. This is why we’re pleased to announce the creation of a dedicated Domestic Abuse and Safeguarding team. Although we already provide support to our customers experiencing domestic abuse, having helped over 50 customers in the last year, and have three (soon to be four) dedicated refuges for women and children needing a safe haven, we recognise that there’s more we can do; which is why we’ve created this new team. Our specialist team will be on hand to provide non-judgemental support to customers, whilst ensuring that cases within the group are properly reviewed and managed. They will achieve this by working closely with victims of abuse as well as with other teams, both within Grand Union and with external partner teams. Our customers’ safety and wellbeing will be at the heart of all that our team does. Each year nearly two million people in the UK suffer some form of domestic abuse, which is an astonishing figure, but during lockdown The Guardian newspaper reported that calls to the UK’s domestic abuse helpline rose by 66%, visits to the website increased by 950% and demand for beds in refuges rocketed. Sadly, we too have seen a marked increase in the number of victims of domestic abuse in the last six months or so – and a lot of cases have involved children witnessing the abuse first hand, having a huge impact on their future as well as their mental health. Figures taken from the UK charity Safe Lives remind us that whilst most domestic abuse victims are female (1.3 million) we mustn’t forget that there are still 600,000 male victims. We should also remember that abuse isn’t always physical or sexual, it can be psychological, financial or emotional too. Nor does it always mean abuse between two people in an intimate relationship. Abuse can be any incident, or pattern of incidents, of controlling, coercive, threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between those aged 16 or over who are (or have been) intimate partners or family members, regardless of gender or sexuality. We’ll provide more information about the team in the coming months, but in the meantime, do remember you are not alone. If you, or someone you know, is experiencing abuse, you can speak with any member of Grand Union staff for impartial and non-judgemental support.