Violence towards staff in charities and housing associations must end, says UNISON

Violence towards staff in charities and housing associations must end, says UNISON

Almost half the staff (47%) working for charities and housing associations have experienced violence or aggression, either from people who use their services or from colleagues, according to a recent survey from UNISON.

The survey revealed widespread abuse, ranging from verbal threats to being “slapped and bit”, “hit and kicked”, “punched in the mouth” and having their “car vandalised” at work.

In an attempt to deal with the issue, UNISON has today (Thursday) launched a new charter that commits voluntary sector organisations to comply with their duty of care to staff when it comes to violence in the workplace.

The survey also revealed that a quarter (26%) of staff felt unsupported when working alone, with many feeling in “danger” due to a lack of training and managerial support.

Almost half the respondents (47%) said that they were regularly required to work beyond the end of their shifts because of understaffing. More than three-quarters (79%) also admitted that they were stressed because of their work.

UNISON’s charter aims to ensure that employers sign up to protect their staff from attacks. This includes training staff how to deal with threatening situations, completing thorough risk assessments and making senior management responsible for the welfare of staff.

So far six community sector employers have signed up – MENCAP, Places For People Group, Coverage Care, Incommunities, Apex Housing, WM Housing Group and the RNIB.

UNISON head of communities Gavin Edwards said: “Charities and housing associations need to take more care of their staff.

“The bleak survey results show that too often charity and voluntary sector employees are faced with verbal and physical intimidation. This is made worse by a lack of support from their managers.

“Six employers have so far signed up to our new charter and we hope more will do so in the coming weeks. This way they can help end this pervasive, dangerous culture and prove their commitment to their employees’ well-being.”

Notes to editors:
-The results are taken from UNISON’s community health and safety survey in June 2017, which spoke to 249 staff who work for charities and housing associations.

-The violence at work charter can be read here.

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