Croydon Council has launched a campaign in its 123 primary and secondary schools aimed at parents who might be victims of domestic abuse.
Each school is being asked to display posters which highlight the fact the school is a safe space where victims can get help by talking to a member of staff and making a phone call to the Croydon FJC (formerly Family Justice Centre) or the National Domestic Abuse Hotline.
During the first lockdown Croydon experienced a 20% increase in domestic abuse incidents and was the worst London borough for offences and incidents over the lockdown period.
Ciara Goodwin, the council’s domestic abuse and sexual violence co-ordinator, came up with the idea of the poster campaign in schools. She said, “A safe space is where a victim can access help and support without fear of further abuse. Many schools already offer this support but we thought a campaign would be important to build awareness and remind victims of what help is available.
“Doing the school run might be one of the very few times victims are able to leave their home without the perpetrator. Schools are open during this lockdown so we thought it a good time to start it now and we hope to make this campaign a permanent fixture in Croydon.”
Ciara also said that some abuse victims are monitored by the perpetrator and are expected to return within a certain time, so schools will also be provided with small cards which the victim could take with them and call one of the helplines at a later opportunity.
Rebecca Shelley, the co-head of Ridgeway Primary School in South Croydon, said, “We have already displayed the posters and think it’s a brilliant idea.
“Offering support is something we do already but it’s important that the victims of domestic abuse know where they can get help because they might be living in a very isolated situation with no-one else to turn to.”
The targeting of schools follows a similar ‘safe space’ poster campaign run in Croydon’s supermarkets during the last lockdown and continues the council’s co-ordinated community response to domestic abuse.
“The harsh reality is that victims of domestic abuse are more at risk during lockdown, so this campaign is all about ensuring as many people as possible know that help is available to them and they are not alone”
Councillor David Wood, cabinet member for communities, safety and resilience
This campaign is being supported by the Better Lives Foundation which has volunteered to deliver the posters to the schools.
“I am thankful to all the schools which have signed up to the campaign and which offer a safe space to women and men who are experiencing domestic violence, enabling them to make a phone call and seek help.
“Together as a community we are stronger and I encourage those schools which have not done so yet to put up a poster and join our campaign.”
Councillor Alisa Flemming, cabinet member for children, young people and learning
If you are a victim of domestic abuse you can call Croydon FJC on 020 8688 0100 or the 24-hour national domestic abuse hotline on 0808 2000 247. In an emergency call the police on 999. #Youarenotalone