Ask for J Campaign Today Safer Places launch the ‘Ask for J’ campaign across Essex. As local businesses begin to re-open their doors to members of the community the ‘Ask for J’ campaign opens the door to support for those experiencing abuse. As the country went into lockdown we have seen a surge in calls to helplines and online requests for support. After a deep dive review of calls to the National Domestic Abuse helpline it seems that most calls are received from women asking how to leave once the lockdown restrictions are eased. Safer Places have experienced a similar rise in calls and online requests for support and are prepared for another surge as restrictions ease once again. In order to ensure that no-one experiencing abuse goes unsupported Safer Places have secured funding via the Office of the Police and Fire Commissioner for Essex to provide a disclosure scheme across 20 Essex towns. The ‘Ask for J’ campaign will run alongside the main J9 disclosure scheme and provides local front facing businesses such as retail and hospitality units with domestic abuse training and the skills to safely respond to survivors providing a safe space to access specialist support. Using the “Ask for J” code word in hairdressers, beauticians, nurseries, vets, supermarkets, pharmacies, food banks for example will give victims of domestic abuse access to resources to make decisions about their future or a safe place to make a call to a support agency, Police or family member for example. Safer Places' have trained over 3,000 professionals in J9 and the J9 initiative was highlighted for good practice in the Government consultation 'Transforming the Response to Domestic Abuse'. The J9 Domestic Abuse Initiative is named in memory of Janine Mundy, a mother of two who was killed by her estranged husband whilst he was on Police bail. Janine used to sign her text messages J9, hence its name. The J9 initiative was started by her family and the local police in Cambourne, Cornwall, where she lived and taken up by Epping Community Safety Partnership. Safer Places continue to run the initiative with the aim of creating more and more safe places for survivors to access support. Kim Scott, the training manager for Safer Places leading the campaign said Ask for J is crucial as many survivors of abuse find it incredibly difficult and sometimes unsafe to reach out to support organisations, which is why Safer Places are reaching out with local businesses. “Ask for J is a continuation of our J9 disclosure scheme which has been working incredibly well for years. Covid 19 has really shed a light on just how common domestic abuse is and this is a real opportunity for us to come together as a community and make sure everyone recognises the J9 sign and knows that this is a place of safety where people are ready to talk to you about abuse. We need your help in each area so we can reach as many businesses as possible and support as many people as we can”. If you would like to get involved please contact [email protected] for more information.