Just months into his time as CIH vice president Jim Strang has pledged to continue the efforts of current president Alison Inman to tackle domestic abuse when he becomes president in 2018.
In an article originally published on the CIH website, Jim Strang makes it clear that domestic is an issue that is close to his heart.
His belief in the need for the housing sector to do more to confront the problem is so strong that just a couple of months into his time as vice president he has announced he will continue the efforts of current president Alison Inman to work with the sector to tackle the issue and to raise money for Women’s Aid.
There’s a poignant story behind the Parkhead Housing Association chief executive’s decision – as a child he witnessed the devastating impact of domestic abuse first hand.
“My father was an extremely controlling and abusive man.
“He was abusive to our mother and to us and I never forgave him for it.
“I remember the feeling of helplessness when one time the abuse was so bad that my mother decided she had to get out to protect us. I was very young and I remember us travelling all the way over to the other side of Glasgow and arriving at a relative’s house only to be turned away.
“Unfortunately that’s how it was then – it was seen as something between a man and his wife and you were expected to get on with. We were forced to travel all the way back home. I’ll never forget the smirk on my dad’s face when we got there, it has stayed with me all of my life.
“So this is an issue I have a really person connection to and as a result I’m passionate about it.
“When I saw Alison had chosen to support Women’s Aid and raise awareness of domestic abuse I knew straight way I wanted to carry that on when I become president.”
But it’s not only his experience of domestic abuse that sits behind Jim’s decision.
“It just makes sense.
“It’s really difficult to build up a head of steam and make progress on an issue in a year. I have every faith that Alison will make a huge impact, but having another year will allow us to make some real progress and, of course, do more fundraising.
“This is such a big issue that I think having the two years will be really beneficial.”
For Jim it isn’t a question of what housing organisations should be doing to tackle domestic abuse, it’s what they can do.
“This is absolutely an issue that we need to do more about.
“There’s no doubt there is some fantastic work going on already to help people affected. But this is an issue which affects so many people and we should all take a look and ask whether we can do more.
“The scale of domestic abuse is so huge that the demand for refuges and accommodation for those affected is massive. Surely there is more we can do as a sector to provide housing for people in our community who are forced out of their home by abusive partners.
“And another area in which we absolutely can make progress is by raising awareness and supporting the people who live and work in social housing.
“Providing a home for people puts us in a unique position and we have to use that to do all that we can to support people to come forward if they are suffering at the hands of an abusive partner.
“And we collectively employ many thousands of people and we have a role to play there too. I’ve strongly suspected at various times in my career that colleagues may have been experiencing domestic abuse but they’ve been too frightened to come forward. That has to change.”
Though the majority of domestic abuse victims are women – 1.3 million women experienced domestic abuse between 2015 and 2016 and 4.3 million have experienced domestic abuse at some point by the age of 16 – it is present in all relationships.
“We’ve got to remember that domestic abuse doesn’t discriminate – it affects all types of relationships regardless of class, ethnicity or sexuality. This is a huge problem wherever you are in the country and we all have a role to play to tackle it.
“I’m looking forward to working with Alison this year and then taking the baton and continuing her great work when I take over next year.”
Jim Strang is vice president of the Chartered Institute of Housing.
- Are you affected by any of the issues mentioned in this article? You can find out more at the Women’s Aid websiteand 24-hour support is available via the National Domestic Violence Helpline
- CIH is running a series of comment pieces throughout the year, are you doing work to tackle domestic abuse in housing or have something else to say about the issue? Contact communications manager Steve Hayes
- Alison Inman is fundraising for Women’s Aid throughout her presidential year, you can make a donation here
- Want to work with Alison or support her cause? Contact CIH