About

We are a community based, non-profit making advice, support and information service for people suffering harassment, bullying or stalking or other rights abuses at work or in the community.

As an independent community based service we communicate and advocate at street level to help targets of harassment or bullying by employers’ managers or co-workers, gangs, landlords, public authorities etc..

Our purpose is to make a lasting difference to sufferers of abuse and rights violations and try to reduce stigma and isolation for them and to encourage them to participate more fully in the wider community.

Why Do We Need LAHSA?

1.      Disadvantaged Targets Get Our Support and Help

Harassment and rights abuse cause misery and distress for ‘targets’** who become disadvantaged, because the resulting stress or illness diminishes their ability to function as a full member of the community. Often victims of bullying or abuse commit suicide and many are traumatised, sometimes for life. The LAHSA would provide a support system to help them overcome the effects of bullying and look for ways of stopping it (including going to law). **(NB we prefer to use the word target rather than victim, as victim is a passive stance, one that suggests hopelessness, where as the term target is more self-empowering).

2.   Bullying Adversely Affects the Local Economy

As bullying adversely affects the national economy it stands to reason that Luton’s economy suffers because of bullying at work and in the community. For example, bullying at work affects over 3,000,000 working people (see attachment – Institute of Personnel and Development), the TUC, HSE and CBI estimate the cost of stress-related illnesses to the national economy is £12billion every year and the National Anti-Bullying Helpline reckon the figure to be £32billion (see attachment 2). Obviously there is a cost to the Luton Economy.

 3.   LAHSA Specialises in Harassment and Bullying Cases 

Presently, there is no specialist agency that deals only with bullying and harassment of adults in the Luton area. Existing bodies, like Luton Mediation, Luton Law Centre, CAB etc. do a good job, but because victims often suffer low self-esteem through bullying they don’t have enough self-confidence to approach them. As a support service we will be able to encourage victims of abuse to come forward and eventually go to authorities or lawyers.

4.   Targets Would Become Self-Empowered

Victims of harassment by neighbours, the police, the Media, council authorities, other departments of government or people at school need an independent community based group communicating and advocating at the street level.

We would be a vital stepping stone for abused people going from almost accepting bullying or abuse as being inevitable to becoming self-empowered to take action. We encourage people to become self-empowered and set up community based support groups, through gaining knowledge of their rights and the procedures needed to overcome bullying, and this should alleviate the strain on existing agencies.

5.   Educate Local People About the Human Rights Act 1998

We want to bring the Human Rights Act 1998 to life in society through this initiative. Our work with people, who are targets of or have evidence of rights abuses, includes publicising their cases, provide support for them and organise human rights talks to raise awareness of their cases. As we want people to understand that Rights and Liberties are for EVERYONE we provide information packs, have rights briefings and conduct talks / debates in
public.

What Services Will LAHSA Provide?

1. A lively Blog Site for people to send comments to directly or enquiries etc by email.

2. Provide up to date information packs for victims and publish literature and a regular newsletter.

3. Provide guidance through the maze of options including going to Court. The LAHSA would link into present legal services.

4. Arrange workshops and teaching sessions about basic rights to empower people through knowledge.

5. Arrange similar seminars and workshops for employers, professionals in the legal services, social services, local authorities, landlords etc.– to help them understand the nature of harassment and bullying, how it affects people on a personal level, and how this may reflect on the rest of the community.

6. Organise support group sessions to encourage targets to get together to share experiences, formulate action plans to overcome harassment / bullying and other abuses etc.

7. Direct targets to counselling or other recognised therapies and for those who do the bullying.

8. Link in with existing services such as Luton Mediation Service, Victims’ Support, the Police Racial Harassment project, Citizen’s Advice, Luton Law Centre, Women’s Aid Centre, TUC Rights Centre, Samaritans, Luton Borough Council Environmental Services (re: nuisance neighbours) the Council’s Anti-Social Behaviour Scheme, Youth Offenders scheme, Bedfordshire Health, etc.

How Will LAHSA Work?

People could write in, send an email look at the LAHSA Blog site or be referred by other organisations to discuss the problem they face. Later, as the project develops there would be a drop in centre.

Our staff listen to:

a) help the victim unload their feelings about being abused,

b) get details about their case to see if LAHSA could help
them

c) find out what the victim would like us to do.

Victims of abuse would be encouraged to act for themselves, with support from LAHSA. They’d be guided to find out information for themselves, write a statement about the abuse and look for any appropriate therapies to overcome the emotional pain of abuse. In certain circumstances victims would be advised to set up a support group so they could help other victims of abuse.

For people traumatised by bullying or for those people who request it, the LAHSA would provide a closer form of support all the way through the process until the bullying either stops or the victim moves away from the bully. LAHSA staff would accompany victims at grievance processes, investigation meetings and court hearings.

LAHSA would contact lawyers on behalf of victims to get advice, write to employers (in the case of workplace bullying) and, if the client wishes, contact local councillors, MP’s and MEP’s for their support.

LAHSA would alert existing agencies with regard to particular problems to highlight the seriousness and extent of harassment. With training from LAHSA such agencies would be better equipped to identify bully victims. (LAHSA would use the services of Success Unlimited – see note below – who provide specialist training for agencies dealing with bullying).

LAHSA would volunteer to mediate between or negotiate with the bully and the victim of bullying, where feasible.

LAHSA would set up a monitoring and research project for workplaces or areas in the community with particularly severe harassment problems. For instance, the LAHSA may start by concentrating on the bullying of teachers, who make up 33% of workplace bully victims.

LAHSA would also monitor workplaces that have equal opportunity policies and report on whether there are victims of bullying working there.

LAHSA would publish the research findings within the confines of workplaces or local authorities, with the proviso that should the findings not be given the
attention required the results would be published more widely through the
media.

How Will LAHSA Benefit Luton?

1.         Save Local Authority Funds

By helping people to understand their rights (at work and in their neighbourhoods) their increased knowledge would help them to learn to
act for themselves (self-empowerment). As well as gaining more self-esteem
victims would decrease their need to go to other agencies such as the Police,
the Council, Social Services, thus making a possible saving on local
authority funds.

2.         Increase Employment/ Provide Work Experience

Eventually, LAHSA would create up to 5 jobs thus benefiting the local economy.

3.         Capacity Building

People who gain increased knowledge of their rights from the LAHSA would then be able to go on and help other people in the community. The victim
would thus become a counsellor instead of being the victim. Their newly gained
knowledge would be passed on to their friends, neighbours, work colleagues and others in the community. The community would be able to help each other without necessarily having to rely on other support services. The result would be
increased self-esteem, better ability to help other victims, improved interaction within the community.

4.         Training

LAHSA
would provide training facilities for people who wanted to learn about their
rights or wanted to become a counsellor in the field of harassment and abuse.
Workshops and training sessions would be run by experienced trainers, possibly
at local colleges and schools. In house training would be given to staff and
volunteers on counselling and advice provision.

5.         Outreach

Much of LAHSA’s work would mean going into workplaces and community organisations. LAHSA would forge better links between existing agencies, at a community level, where either none exist or are only tenuous at present. For instance, I have met some people from the Afro-Caribbean community who feel reluctant to approach the Luton Police Harassment scheme, either because they perceive the police are racist or are unsure what the police could do to help them. Because of LAHSA’s sympathetic approach to bullying, I hope that such people would be happy to come to the LAHSA in order to get the process of tackling racist abuse started, with a link up later with the police.

6.         Increased Productivity in the Local Economy

By helping victims of workplace bullying, there would be a fall in absenteeism through improved health, an improvement in morale with a consequent increase in work rate and a decrease in employee resentment. According to a recent article in Metro (7 Jan 2003 – “Staff’s Subtle Revenge on Bully Bosses”), “Disgruntled employees are likely to take subtle revenge in ways that cause long term damage to a company” See attachment 3).

7.         Decrease Stress Levels in the Community

By helping the bullies to stop the bullying, the community would benefit by having better working conditions and better school environments – the community would be happier.

8.         Increase Social Responsibility at Community Level

By bringing people together who have experienced similar abuses, each victim’s feeling of self worth would be enhanced. They would no longer feel that it was only them that suffered abuse or that they were to blame for being bullied (a common reaction amongst victims of bullying).

By increasing people’s knowledge about the Human Rights Act, victims of abuse would come to understand how human rights affect their daily lives. They would eventually realise human rights are not some kind of “airy fairy” notions, but are real value to them, their families, friends and neighbours.

People who gain abetter understanding of their own environment are more likely to take on more responsibility for things that happen within their own communities. For instance, where there are nuisance neighbours people will act together to overcome bullying, cooperate more with local police and council authorities.

The project would be a first port of call for abused and bullied people and will have a sympathetic approach to sufferers of harassment and other rights abuses. The project will be unique in that, although Citizen’s Advice, Police, lawyers etc cover some aspects of bullying LAHSA will be able to give more specialist and better-targeted support to help overcome the results of abuse.

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