By Heather Walters
87% of women battered by their partners confide in their hairdresser before they seek help from a professional. Knowing that significant statistic, if this situation arose in your workplace, would you know what to do?
That is the mission and message of NFF, Neighbours, Friends and Families, a public education campaign of the Ontario Government’s Domestic Violence Action Plan. The NFF Workplace Champion program has been in existence for 3 years. Local co-ordinator Amber Wardell recently held a recognition breakfast at Schofield’s Friday morning, commending both local businesses and social programs that have taken the training program designed to “recognize and report” signs of domestic violence, either in their customer/client base, or among other co-workers. The training is designed to help those in the workplace recognize signs of abuse, teaches how to respond to such a situation in a safe way and offers guidance as to who the experts are, and how best to contact them. By doing so, the NFF initiative hopes to prevent tragedies that can, and often do, occur in the workplace.
Mayor Dennis Travale was on hand with a few opening remarks, commenting that Norfolk County has been fully engaged and involved since the program’s inception. “Norfolk County supports it, buys into it, and practices it” he said to the gathering at Schofield’s. “Sending a message about non-acceptance of violence is critical to our community.”
The event was intended to recognize workplaces that have achieved success in the NFF Workplace program. Certificates were awarded to a variety of social programs and small businesses that have qualified themselves to recognize signs of abuse, and are actively involved with the prevention program. They included the H-N Women’s Services, Access Center, Reach program, H-N Children’s Aid Society, OPP Norfolk Detachment, Correctional Services, Health Unit, Housing Corporation, Embrace Salon, and Dol Mar Salon, among others.
An off shoot of the NFF is the “Cut It Out” program, a condensed version of training that offers instruction and guidance to local hair salons, as they are often the first place a victim of domestic violence will seek help.