Meath Topic & Westmeath Topic, 02/12/2021, Claire Corrigan
According to the statistics, one in four women in Ireland experience domestic abuse by a current partner or ‘ex’, while almost 30,000 calls to Women’s Aid last year with an increase of 43% due to the pandemic.
Now it has been arranged that domestic abuse support resources will be rolled out in over 3,500 hair and beauty salons across Ireland, where an estimated 88.9% of professionals working in hair and beauty are female.
The new partnership between Women’s Aid and the Hair and Beauty Industry Confederation of Ireland is taking place after HABIC approached the domestic violence service offering to collaborate to support the industry in responding to an issue that comes up regularly to staff.
A very high percentage of clientele are women and sometimes women confide in their stylist or beauty therapist about what is happening to them.
HABIC approached Women’s Aid to create an initiative that would give useful tools to salons to help staff to recognise abuse, how to respond and how to signpost the Women’s Aid 24hr National Freephone Helpline.
The partnerships will see domestic abuse support resources being rolled out to over 2,500 hair and beauty salons across the country has been launched.
Talking to Topic, Agnes Burke spoke of why she wanted too support the campaign.
“Every salon under the HABIC umbrella gets a resource pack. We will be trained to see to spot signs of domestic abuse.”
The campagin aims to build a greater understanding and knowledge of domestic violence and abuse among hair and beauty professionals and will create awareness with salon customers and employees on the prevalence, nature of domestic abuse and support pathways that are available.
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 24 National Freephone Helpline.
“99% of my clientele are women wo we wanted to get involved.” continued Agnes. “Everyone talks to their hairdresser about everything and some people only have them to talk to . You build a great relationship with your clients which I love.”
In addition to this, information will be displayed in staff areas, to support salon employees that may be victims of abuse. “It’s a very personal experience when you are in the hairdressers because you really could be told absolutely anything.”
She explained that that is the reason she has returned to college to study Psychology in Maynooth University. “I completed a life coaching course two years ago and that sparked off my interest in learning more about the mind and well being and how we can empower others and bring out the best in everyone. People come in to get their hair done but it’s also that emotional support as well.”
Starting earlier this month, HABIC member salons received packs containing resource materials to support and educate teams and clients, including posters outlining the ten common signs of domestic abuse.
In addition to this, stickers will be displayed on mirrors containing QR codes that will direct salon customers to the 24hr National Freephone Helpline and the Women’s Aid website.
Women’s Aid has also given an information seminar to staff on who to recognise abuse, how to respond and what help is available.
Salons play a crucial role in raising aware ness among those who may need support, including staff and clients. “I think people realised how important going to the salon is when lockdown came in. It’s the experience and the environment and energy and feeling safe-women supporting women. Isn’t that what it’s all about? We should always support each other.”
It is hoped that the campaign will urge anyone who are experiencing abuse to call the Women’s Aid 24hr National Freephone Helpline or use the Instant Message Support Service for information, support and referral to local domestic violence services, when needed.
WHY THIS MATTERS
In 2020, 29,717 contacts were made with Women’s Aid frontline services, druing which 24,893 disclosures of domestic abuse against women includingcoercive control were made. Support workers also heart 5,948 disclosures of abuse against children.
The reality is that thousands of women are being subjected to high levels of emotional, physical, sexual and economic abuse every day, at the hands of the person who is supposed to care for and respect them.
These statistics represent a 43% increase in the numbers of women reaching out to Women’s Aid for support during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Anyone affected or who is concerned about someone can call the Women’s Aid 24hr National Freephone Helpline 1800 341 900 or use the Instant Message Support Service on www.womensaid.ie
The 24hr National Freephone Helpline provides support in over 170+ languages and provides a listening ear, practical information and emotional support.
The service also acts as a gateway to all local domestic violence services and refuges across the country.