Today, Hestia and our UK SAYS NO MORE campaign are pleased to welcome the publication of the Domestic Abuse Act 2021 statutory guidance, which will aid in the definition of domestic abuse as part of the Act.

When the Act received Royal Assent, we were delighted that children were included and recognised as victims within their own right. Now, after four years of advocating, we are pleased to see that seeing children as victims is not only threaded throughout the guidance, but that children who are having to leave their homes as a result of domestic abuse will not lose their place on NHS waiting lists.

Hestia has seen first-hand how devastating it can be for children to lose their place and go to the bottom of NHS waiting lists. One child, Azra*, lost her place on a waiting list for a speech therapist after moving out of her borough and into one of our refuges. By the time Azra and her mother were ready to leave the refuge, she still had not been seen by a speech therapist, and risked losing her place again. The window of opportunity to support Azra with her speech was closing.

“Knowing that our situation, as a result of the abuse we experienced, could affect Azra for the rest of her life made my heart break.” – Azra’s mother

We are incredibly grateful for the support of Hogan Lovells and Interel in ensuring this provision for children will now be in place, and children like Azra will be able to quickly get the health support they need, regardless of whether they have to move home or not.

Hestia is also thrilled to see the role of employers being recognised within the statutory guidance. Many people experiencing domestic abuse continue to experience it while at work, and we know that when employers take action, it saves lives.

Over recent years, Hestia has been working proudly alongside the Employers Initiative on Domestic Abuse to ensure employers know how to take action.

In 2018, we launched our Everyone’s Business programme, aimed at equipping employers with the tools required to address domestic abuse in the workplace. In 2020, we launched the Respond to Abuse Advice Line, app and website, which provides free and confidential advice to businesses concerned about employees. Now, Respond to Abuse is included in the guidance as a tool to support employers.

We are delighted to see that, through this statutory guidance, every employer has the opportunity to be part of the conversation on domestic abuse.