Hairdressers, barbers and beauticians are set to get training to spot the signs of domestic abuse as part of a campaign in Sutton backed by the head of a newly created national watchdog.
They will be offered the coaching as part of a new drive in the borough to tackle domestic abuse – called Transform, Sutton – as people often share personal information with stylists and hairdressers that they might not discuss with family or friends.
The training being developed will help people know what to do if customers talk about domestic abuse or shows signs of physical, emotional or financial abuse and how to refer people for help as well as giving valuable information on local services available.
It comes after local hairdressers, beauticians and students attended an event to find out more about the scheme and sign up for training, alongside the new Domestic Abuse Commissioner for England and Wales Nicole Jacobs.
The event was organised by the NHS locally and the Local Authority, with support from the area’s domestic abuse transformation board made up of a host of local organisations.
These include Sutton Council, NHS Sutton Clinical Commissioning Group, Epsom Hospital and St Helier Hospital, Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust, Metropolitan Police, London Fire Brigade, Sutton Community Action and secondary schools.
Once the training has been finalised following input from salon staff it will be provided through the board’s Transform, Sutton initiative, which is led by charity Cranstoun.
Sutton Council has invested £1.25 million over three years, working alongside local schools, residents, volunteers, and organisations to deliver a comprehensive plan and public campaign – Not Alone in Sutton.
The new Transform service will provide support for victims of domestic abuse as well as offer help to perpetrators who want to change their behaviour.
In 2017, domestic violence accounted for 38% of all incidents of violence with injury in Sutton – 467 out of 1,242. The number of reported domestic violence and abuse cases rose from 1,451 to 1,573 between 2017 and 2018.
Ms Jacobs, Domestic Abuse Commissioner for England and Wales, said: “Going for a haircut gives many people an opportunity to open up to somebody outside their social circle – somebody who they know, trust and is used to listening.
“That means hairdressers, barbers and beauty professionals are in a unique position. They may well be able to spot signs of abuse that others might not see and direct people to the services that can make a real difference and, in some cases, save lives.”
Frank Di Lusso, owner of Frank Di Lusso Hair in Carshalton, said: “Being a hairdresser is like being a therapist. Awareness is everything and if people in the industry know how to approach the situation after the client divulges the information, I think that’s invaluable.”
Lisa, of Annie’s Hair Salon said: “I’ve found the event extremely useful, lots of helpful information I didn’t know. Three of us who attended are definitely signing up to become Domestic Abuse Champions. We feel this has been invaluable as we hear clients talking about problems like this all the time, but none of us knew what to do.”
Leader of Sutton Council, Councillor Ruth Dombey, said “Sutton Council is determined to significantly reduce the levels of domestic abuse in our borough. We recognise that the best way to do this is by working closely with our partners from NHS organisations, the police, fire brigade, and local voluntary groups.
We welcome this new approach with Transform, including the training with salon staff, which builds on the good work already being done. Sutton is a great place to live, work and raise a family and keeping everybody safe is our top priority.”
Dr Jeff Croucher, lead GP in Sutton said “There is huge benefit to the NHS by coming together with partners to prevent domestic abuse occurring or to tackle it early on. We can help to reduce the number of people coming to GPs and A&E with serious injuries, as well preventing and reducing mental health issues for victims and their families”