New partnership will see domestic abuse supports rolled out in hair and beauty salons

Westmeath Examiner (Web), 15/11/2021, Deirdre Verney

A new partnership between Women’s Aid and the Hair and Beauty Industry Confederation (HABIC) that will see domestic abuse support resources being rolled out to over 2,500 hair and beauty salons across the country has been launched today (Monday, November 15).

The new partnership aims to build a greater understanding and knowledge of domestic violence and abuse among hair and beauty professionals, and to create awareness with salon customers and employees on the prevalence, nature of domestic abuse and support pathways that are available. This includes 196 member salons in Westmeath, involving 490 staff members across the county.

One in four women in Ireland in a relationship have been abused by a current or former partner, according to EU research. From this week, HABIC member salons will receive 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.

The partnership 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.

Information will also be 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.

Commenting on the partnership, Sarah Benson, CEO of Women’s Aid said: “We are delighted to partner with HABIC on this important initiative. Hair and beauty businesses in local communities across the country can play a crucial role in raising awareness among those who may need support, including staff and clients. 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. 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.”

In 2020, 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.

Support workers also heard 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.

Margaret O’Rourke Doherty, CEO of HABIC added that from engagement with Women’s Aid, the group understands that salons may be the only safe space for some women, away from an abusive behaviour.

“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. 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,” she ended.

Women’s Aid 24 hour National Freephone Helpline is 1800 341 900

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