Today’s guest blog comes from Deputy Mayor Councillor Asher Craig (Public Health and Communities) and Councillor Helen Godwin (Cabinet Member for Women, Families, and Homes) who co-chaired the Mayoral Commission on Domestic Abuse. You can read the commission’s published report here.
In March 2020, as the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic was being felt across the world, the UK was plunged into lockdown, and for the first time in living memory people were ordered to ‘stay at home.’
While this was an essential message for the nation’s public health, it was also terrifying for the many people for whom home is not a safe place. Lockdown was therefore a dangerous development for many Bristolians.
Here in Bristol we have a proud record of working in partnership, and our approach to supporting survivors of domestic abuse and sexual violence – before, during, and beyond the pandemic – is no different.
In Summer 2020, with Marvin’s support , we launched the Mayoral Commission on Domestic Abuse. Through a series of virtual workshops, we engaged more than 80 people from 28 local and national organisations to help form principles and recommendations that will underpin how Bristol responds to domestic abuse and sexual violence. We extend our thanks to all our commissioners who contributed their energy, expertise, and compassion.
We are pleased to share the commission’s report with the city. The report includes 35 recommendations to help us become a safer, kinder place, where victims and survivors of abuse and violence feel supported, safe, and empowered to move forward and build new lives.
We need the whole city to take action on the report’s recommendations, building on the superb work of Bristol’s support services. We do this in order to make these seven principles a reality for our city, and for all survivors of domestic and sexual violence and abuse in Bristol. Our report is dedicated to you – we see you, we hear you, you are not alone.
- We will start with you and what’s right for you.
- There are a range of support services available and ways in which we can build safety with you. There will always be a person available to talk to you and help.
- If you have children, we will work with you to support you, to help you care for your children and keep them safe.
- It’s your home and we want you to be able to stay in your home, which means if you want the person who is hurting, scaring or controlling you to be told to leave and not return, we will take action so that you can be safe.
- If staying in your home isn’t be right for you, or you need a safe home to go to, we will do everything we can to help you to make that happen. Your physical and psychological safety are important to us.
- In every corner of our city, we will work to eliminate sexual violence and abuse, and we will support survivors to feel safe, to recover, and to thrive.
- Domestic abuse and sexual violence are everybody’s business – we all have a role to play in making sure Bristol is a zero-tolerance city where domestic abuse and sexual violence are not tolerated, and victims and survivors are supported.
If you are currently experiencing domestic abuse, help is available. You can contact the National Domestic Abuse helpline 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 0808 2000 247. You can also find further information on local support services on our website.