Paul is a Tenancy Sustainment Coordinator at Calico Homes who achieved DAHA accreditation in February this year. Based in Burnley, Paul has been in his role since May 2017 and before that was one of Calico's Neighbourhood Coordinators. When he's not working Paul enjoys spending time with his 7-year-old daughter and playing football.
I was first approached by our Assistant Director of Customer Services to lead on the process of gaining DAHA accreditation in January 2019. As a Tenancy Sustainment Coordinator I had managed my own local team but not a team from across the Calico Group so it was an exciting opportunity to lead on this important work.
Calico’s position as a group structure provided us with some fantastic opportunities to develop an innovative approach. We saw the potential to work collaboratively across the group drawing our own domestic abuse services, a training company (AFTA Thought), mental health and drugs recovery programme experts (Acorn Academy), along with our communications team, HR and learning and development who were all represented on the DAHA steering group.
It was apparent at the first project meeting how passionate everyone was about raising domestic abuse awareness not only within Calico but also to influence wider societal change. The sharing of knowledge and sense of team spirit from across the group brought a real positivity and impetus to drive this project forward. Although the accreditation was specifically aimed at housing, as an organisation we wanted to go one step further and roll out domestic abuse training to the whole Calico Group.
For the training programme we decided to use AFTA Thought Training Consultants who bring the ‘lived experience’ into a room using actors. Using applied theatre in facilitation of the training was unique – it drew on our policies and procedures and ensured people had a clear understanding of their individual roles and responsibilities in being confident to report concerns of domestic abuse.
I knew that Calico could play an important role in influencing society and we set about inviting other leads from our partner agencies to attend the training. This resulted in AFTA Thought being invited to design and deliver domestic abuse training across Burnley Borough Council and Lancashire Care Trust.
Calico had already introduced ideas such as Safe Leave and a perpetrator programme, and we worked collaboratively to ensure these initiatives were shared among our audiences in the hope they would go back and review their own individual policies.
We also recognised the possibility that as well as tenants and service users, there could be victims and perpetrators among our staff who needed to access help and support. We wanted to be able to encourage them to feel safe enough to come forward and access the help and support Calico have on offer. As a result of this we developed a Domestic Abuse Ambassadors programme and asked for volunteers from across the group – the response was very positive and to date we have 20 trained Ambassadors.
After we gained DAHA accreditation in February 2020 it was important to us to keep the momentum going. We used the collective learning and wisdom from the accreditation process to motivate and inspire other community organisations across Lancashire. This resulted in a number of initiatives including ‘Men Speak Out’ – a conference organised by the Calico Group’s domestic abuse service Safenet to encourage men to speak out against domestic abuse.
Calico will continue the ripple effect in promoting and championing our work around domestic abuse. We want to build on the learning we acquired during the DAHA accreditation process in order to strengthen our understanding and positively impact the lives of victims, survivors and perpetrators of domestic abuse.