With the worrying rise in domestic abuse during the recent lockdown unions have been working to support members who may be in abusive relationships. PCS officers in the North West have been delivering training in the Bright Sky app to offer help.
Bright Sky is a free to download mobile app providing support and information for anyone who may be in an abusive relationship or those concerned about someone they know. The app has Home Office sponsorship.
Mary Doolin, PCS North West Equality Lead and Ann Ainsworth, PCS North West Regional Learning Officer, got together to deliver online training sessions. They had both wanted to include a session on Bright Sky in physical events, but Covid-19 outbreak meant a rethink.
We saw some of the early information about the increase in domestic violence and I suggested to her that we could do a virtual walk round of the app as a way of continuing to supporting members and their families facing this issue during lockdown.”
The app training was supported and promoted for our International Women’s day. Our Regional Women’s Network were very keen to circulate far and wide the app particularly with the rise of domestic abuse reports during Covid-19.”
Domestic Abuse is a trade union issue and has been a national campaign of PCS for many years. Covid-19 has magnified the need to provide all the resources and tools to help members and reps support/raise awareness on this matter.”
The initial sessions had 38 people registered, despite some teething problems with Zoom and issues over some departments blocking the video conferencing platform. They have agreed to facilitate sessions on both Zoom and Teams to maximise greater participation.
PCS reps from a wide range of workplaces attended the sessions, including Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs, NHS, Crown Prosecution Service, Liverpool Museums, DWP, our associate and retired members, Citizen’s Advice Bureau volunteer, British Council and Department for Transport,
The sessions run for an hour and it is an overview of the app and its functionality. It has been adopted and incorporated into the Valuation Office HR policy and into the Ministry of Defence and into the NHS Pension Agency.
Employers have been very supportive of the PCS initiative and have been adapting policies to reflect the Bright Sky App.
Both the Valuation Office and the Ministry of Defence have recognised the need to adjust their policies to incorporate the Bright Sky app and the member from NHS Agency Pension who received the training has returned to employer and got them to adapt their policy.”
One PCS rep who took part in the training, and preferred to remain anonymous, said:
Following the brilliant training we had about domestic abuse, I shared the info about the Bright Sky app with our Chief Exec. He had mentioned to me that unfortunately, colleagues had requested to remain working in the office due to home circumstances!”
Even with a global pandemic, they wanted to get out of their houses, so I mentioned I had received this training from PCS. He has shared this with our Comms team and the app will be widely publicised around our business.”
It is thanks to your quick thinking and action that hopefully this app may be able help some very unfortunate colleagues and I would like to thank you and your team.”
Ann feels understanding the app can be vital as reps can never know when they will come across a member or colleague affected by domestic violence. She said:
Every rep from every union should have this app on their phones if they can to help them give immediate and potentially life-saving support.”
Ann also encouraged members to undertake the TUC education enote to help them think about the policies at their workplace and ensure that they adequately support members facing this issue.
This initiative has successfully saved lives and provided a resource tool for reps, members & employers to help during a very difficult time in some one’s life.”
If it saves one life we have achieved our goal.”