Bushmills has achieved accreditation as Northern Ireland’s first Safe Village for victims of domestic abuse.
The recognition is thanks to residents’ efforts in raising awareness of the range of services available for anyone living, working or visiting the village, who may be experiencing domestic violence or abuse.
The initiative is funded by Causeway Coast and Glens Policing and Community Safety Partnership in association with Onus.
Leanne Abernethy, vice chair of Causeway Coast and Glens PCSP and a resident of Bushmills, explains: “We know that domestic violence and abuse continues to be an ongoing issue in this borough. There were 2158 incidents of domestic abuse reported to PSNI in the Causeway Coast and Glens area in the last year, and we also know that numbers reporting to police is only the tip of the iceberg. Many more people will use other services, and still more are living in fear and not accessing the support available.
“We want people to know that there is a range of services available to support anyone who is living with violence or abuse, and to reassure them that our focus is on their safety. If your home is not a safe place for you, then there are other places in our village that can signpost you to someone locally who can support you at this time.”
The aim of ‘Safe Village’ is to empower local communities to identify the harm caused by domestic violence and abuse and to highlight the range of support services available locally. It is one of the latest ‘Pathways for Participation’ developed by Onus to facilitate effective partnership working in supporting people.
Colette Stewart, chief executive of Onus, said: “We believe that domestic violence is an issue for all of us, and we know that many businesses and organisations throughout the Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council area share that sentiment.
“We have developed the Workplace Charter on Domestic Violence to demonstrate to anyone affected that they do not have to live with abuse. We are delighted to be working with Causeway Coast & Glens Borough Council who are leading by example and are currently working towards the Gold Workplace Charter award.
“Our range of Pathways enable everyone to play their part and we would encourage organisations throughout the borough to support our Workplace Charter and Safe Place Initiative. To find out more about getting involved please email firstname.lastname@example.org”
Anyone experiencing domestic or sexual violence can access 24 hour support by calling The Domestic and Sexual Violence Helpline on 0808 802 1414. Calls are free from all mobiles and landlines and the service is available for all men and women affected by domestic or sexual violence or abuse.