Irish Examiner (Web), 15/11/2021, Steve Neville
A new partnership aims to educate staff in the hair and beauty industry on how to recognise signs of domestic abuse.
The campaign between Women’s Aid and the Hair and Beauty Industry Confederation (HABIC) will see domestic abuse support resources being rolled out to more than 2,500 hair and beauty salons across the country.
It is aiming to build a greater understanding and knowledge of domestic violence and abuse among hair and beauty professionals.
According to EU research, one in four women in Ireland in a relationship have been abused by a current or former partner and it is hoped that hair and beauty businesses can play “a crucial role in raising awareness among those who may need support”.
Last year, 29,717 contacts were made with Women’s Aid’s frontline services, during which 24,893 disclosures of domestic abuse against women including coercive control were made.
Women’s Aid said that these statistics represent a 43% increase in the numbers of women reaching out to the charity for support during the Covid-19 pandemic.
It is hoped the partnership will create awareness with salon customers and employees on the prevalence, nature of domestic abuse, and support pathways that are available.
HABIC member salons will receive packs containing resource materials to support and educate teams and clients, including posters outlining the 10 common signs of domestic abuse.
Stickers will also be displayed on mirrors containing QR codes that will direct salon customers to the 24hr National Freephone Helpline and the Women’s Aid website.
It also aims to educate staff about how to recognise the signs of abuse, how to respond in a supportive way, and how to signpost customers to the Women’s Aid 24hr National Freephone Helpline.
The partnership will also see information displayed in staff areas, to support salon employees that may be victims of abuse, as an estimated 88.9% of professionals working in hair and beauty are female.
“When someone discloses that they are experiencing abuse, it can be difficult to know what to do. Quite often people are afraid to say the wrong thing,” said Sarah Benson, CEO of Women’s Aid.
“Our campaign provides helpful resources on recognising abuse and how to respond in a supportive way.”
“We know that with the right information salon staff can make a difference in someone’s journey to safety.”
“We hope that women accessing these local spaces, who are experiencing abuse, will call the Women’s Aid 24hr National Freephone Helpline for information, support and referral to local domestic violence services, when needed.”
The CEO of the HABIC said that after engagement with Women’s Aid, they understand “that salons may be the only safe space for some women.”
“Over the coming period, we will focus on supporting our members and to give staff confidence and resources to know how to respond when someone does confide in them,” said Margaret O’Rourke Doherty.
“With a largely female workforce, we also want to ensure our members feel supported at work and can access the necessary supports if they need to.”
“We look forward to working with the team at Women’s Aid going forward to listen to women, support and believe them.”
Women’s Aid can be contacted via the 24hr National Freephone Helpline on 1800 341 900 or via their website at womensaid.ie