A council has introduced 14 ‘Safe Place’ locations for people affected by domestic and sexual violence.
Newry, Mourne and Down District Council says it believes “everyone has the right to live free from fear and abuse”.
The Safe Place initiative has been developed by the council in partnership with Onus NI, which provides specialist training on domestic violence, to provide help for both its employees and members of the public.
The scheme was launched by Onus in 2011 and since then over 1,700 organisations have registered.
The premise behind the initiative is that it allows any business, organisation, church, school or community group to provide a Safe Place where anyone affected by domestic abuse can confidentially access information on a range of support services.
The 14 locations include Newry Leisure Centre, Newry Town Hall, Council Offices Newry, Bessbrook Community Centre and Crossmaglen Community Centre.
All will display the Safe Place logo indicating that information on services is available there.
Council chairperson, Councillor Michael Savage said: “Everyone deserves to live in safety, and it is extremely important that anyone experiencing abuse knows that help and support is available.
“We are pleased to be working in partnership with Onus on this initiative and together we want to ensure everyone in our community can access this support through the designated Safe Place locations across the district within a safe and supportive environment.
“Across our district we are committed to creating a zero-tolerance approach to domestic abuse regardless of location, gender or circumstance.”
Collette Stewart, Onus NI chief executive, said an estimated one in four women and one in seven men will experience domestic abuse “so not all employees are as safe in their homes as they should be”.
She added: “Their workplace can be the Safe Place for them to access information and support and Newry, Mourne and Down District Council not only developed a workplace policy outlining support available but has also trained staff as Safe Place advocates to provide an informed and compassionate response to anyone who needs it.
“We have really enjoyed working alongside the council to develop and deliver this work and are delighted they have joined the growing network of employers to be awarded the Onus Gold Workplace Charter in recognition of their commitment to support any member of staff experiencing domestic abuse.”
Details of all 14 Safe Place locations can be found on the council’s website at www.newrymournedown.org/safeguarding.