Our EDI Journey
HSES believes that East Sussex residents will receive the best support if small local specialist charities exist, particularly those that offer services delivered “by and for” those with protected characteristics.
We are a small, independent local family charity, founded in 1996 with a specialism in domestic abuse/VAWG (violence against women and girls). Our service users are primarily, but not exclusively, women with children. Our services are designed and led by those who share the same protected characteristic/lived experience as those we aim to serve.
We ensure that equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) informs the range and breadth of our work. Without taking EDI seriously, our relations with minoritised communities would lack integrity. Staff, volunteers and trustees are encouraged to be open and challenge assumptions, biases and prejudices to help develop deep, trusting, mutually beneficial relationships with minoritised communities.
Due to the protected characteristic of our majority clients (women) and the gendered nature of abuse they have been subjected to (primarily by men), our EDI journey has been complex and at times, challenging for the staff and trustee team whose default position is inclusivity.
When we began our journey, we knew we wanted to maintain a fair and inclusive charity culture, ensuring services prioritised safety, dignity, accessibility and privacy and that our approach was trauma-informed, proportionate and fair.
We carried out impact assessments concerning making our services (i) fully inclusive of any self identified victim-survivor (ii) inclusive of self-identifying women and non binary people but not men (iii) single sex (registered female at birth) only, and recognised that:
- we have a duty of care towards the beneficiaries of our domestic abuse recovery groups, all of whom are currently women, most of whom have been subjected to male violence and often have a continued fear of men/ maleness. A significant number suffer from trauma/PTSD so can develop a chronic vigilance for, and sensitivity to, threat
- some minoritised ethnic communities (who are particularly vulnerable to domestic abuse) can only attend a same sex group. They would be prohibited by their religion to enter a mixed sex space.
We identified that whatever decision we made, we would be prioritising one protected characteristic over another. With our majority clients in mind (protected characteristic, women) we concluded that the most proportionate decision would be to have a Single Sex Policy for our women's recovery groups. Our CAPVA service would be fully inclusive of any parent/carer with an abusive child aged 8-17.
We have defined Equality, Diversity and Inclusion in our Equality Policy, with the understanding that full inclusivity for all services is not always the most equitable approach, especially when a service aim is to aid recovery from a gendered crime and we want the group to be accessible to all minoritised ethnic communities. We recognise that not everyone will agree with this position, but we believe it to be the fairest for the majority of our clients and the majority of victim-survivors.
At the same time, we believe that victim-survivors of all genders should be able to access support when they need it. We recognise that trans and non-binary people are particularly vulnerable to intimate partner violence and that Brighton & Hove has a higher-than-average number of trans and non-binary residents. Therefore, as soon as we introduced the Single Sex Policy, we set up a new one-to-one IDVA support service available to any trans and non-binary person that reaches out to us. On referral we offer the choice to receive IDVA support from us or a supported referral to the local specialist LGBTQ+ "by and for" domestic abuse services run by Brighton Switchboard
We do not currently have the resources to support the recovery of other male victim-survivors and so signpost to Respect. However we welcome male and trans/non binary parent/carers on our child/adolescent to parent violence/abuse (CAPVA) parenting programme.
We use equalities data to monitor whether we are reaching a wide range of clients, and to identify which community groups we may need to work harder at reaching. We are proud to report that in 2022-23:
- 13% of the women on our domestic abuse recovery clients were from the LGB community
- 10% of our total clients were from the LGBTQ+ community across all our services
We are transparent about who is eligible for which services so that (i) all victim-survivors and referrers are clear about the eligibility criteria of every service from the website (ii) any women victim survivors looking for support can be reassured that our recovery groups are a ‘safe space for women’ (iii) all victim-survivor attending our groups know they will be welcomed by the other beneficiaries
We strive to ensure that everyone encountering us feels respected and is treated with dignity and we work hard to ensure there is an alignment between what we say and what we do. Despite our niche EDI position shared with other domestic abuse and sexual abuse services, our aspiration is to make a meaningful contribution to EDI, nurturing interdependence, whilst respecting distinctiveness. We want to extend and share our skills and niche EDI experience.
“I liked it that the group was inclusive of same sex couples”.
This year our EDI focus is to improve access to our services for those with a disability and develop stronger relationships with local disability groups.
Many of those we support have been subjected to domestic abuse and other crimes. Our services can be accessed by victim-survivors both in and outside of the criminal justice system, whether or not any crime has been reported.
HSES want to be part of a community that drives social action over and beyond our organisational aims.
If you’d like to receive any of our documents in an alternative format:
Please email [email protected] or phone 01273 612025.
The following statement of policy is for use by all employees and volunteers working within Home-Start East Sussex:
Equality, Fairness and Diversity Policy Statement
Home Start East Sussex is committed to the 2010 Equality Act and 1998 Human Rights Act by developing an organisational culture that respects equality and human rights and welcomes and values difference in all aspects of its work.
HSES’ approach is rooted in its commitment to providing trauma-informed services to support and care for victim-survivors of domestic abuse with a particular focus on women (and their children).
HSES strives to ensure all its services prioritise safety, dignity and privacy whilst balancing fairness, proportionality and accessibility.
Research confirms that because of the rate, severity and impact of male violence against women and girls in society, the safety, dignity and privacy of women and girls is improved when single-sex services are available to them. In recognition of this, the Equality Act 2010 explicitly permits service providers to maintain single-sex spaces if it is legitimate and proportionate to do so. For this reason, some of our groups are cis-women only.
Our vision is to eradicate domestic abuse from East Sussex by providing preventative, early intervention and recovery services so that all family members can thrive in healthy, safe, and supportive environments.
To help us achieve this, Home-Start East Sussex has in place policies and procedures relating to staff and volunteers that are designed to uphold the rights enshrined in both the 2010 Equality Act and 1998 Human Rights Act. Employees, trustees and other volunteers are therefore required to comply with all policies and procedures designed to ensure respect for equality and human rights.
Home-Start East Sussex ensures all its other policies and procedures comply with this policy.
We are committed to addressing prejudice and discrimination by:
- Ensuring the effectiveness of our Equality, Fairness and Diversity policy
- Being clear and open about our values and approach
- Listening, learning and taking action to bring about positive change
We want anyone who is eligible to use our services to have the opportunity to do so.
Increased demand for on-line services has led to increased access for those with anxiety, disabilities, travel restrictions or caring responsibilities, but has also reduced equality of access for some.
If you would like to use one of our services but are currently unable to access them due to not having the necessary devices, wifi/data or tech literacy, please get in touch and we will try to identify a way of helping you to join us.
Home-Start East Sussex is a Disability Confident employer.
We believe that people with disabilities and long term health conditions should have equal opportunities to fulfil their potential and realise their aspirations.
Home-Start East Sussex has adopted the The Halo Code
We champion the right of staff to embrace all Afro-hairstyles and acknowledge that Afro-textured hair is an important part of our Black employees’ racial, ethnic, cultural and religious identities. At HSES, we recognise and celebrate our colleagues' identities. We are a community built on an ethos of equality and respect where hair texture and style have no bearing on an employees ability to succeed.