Some of the team at Esker House, Athlone at the launch of the Esker Project and Freephone Helpline on International Women's Day last month.

'Purple Hand Champion' project launched by Esker House

Esker House in Athlone has launched the 'Purple Hand Champion' initiative in bid to offer training to businesses, clubs and organisations in Midlands to recognise the signs, and respond appropriately to, incidents of domestic violence and coercive control.

Once the training is completed the company or community organisation will be awarded a purple hand to display in their business or service. This will alert women in the community that they are a 'Purple Hand Champion', and a safe space for them to gain support and information regarding domestic abuse.

The 'Purple Hand Champion' project launched by Esker House, Athlone is offering training for groups and firms to recognise the signs of, and how to respond to, domestic abuse and coercive control. The purple hand sign is awarded to each champion who completes the training to display in their premises or service.

Esker House has reported plenty of interest in this campaign so far, and the organisation is in the planning stages with the GAA and sporting clubs to bring this training to their members and extended community.

Training has already commenced with the area's hairdressers and local councillors.

Cllr Frankie Keeana, one of the many local representatives who signed up to the training, acknowledged the importance of this campaign for public representatives who need to be informed and ready to respond appropriately.

“I'm meeting people everyday talking and assisting them with various issues. It is important to be aware of the services available to the community,” he commented.

Esker House is also inviting hotels, pharmacies, companies big and small, to get on board with this important awareness raising project.

Deirdre Berry, Head of Services at Esker House, said the success of this project will rely on public engagement.

“Long has domestic abuse been a hidden secret in our communities and homes, people did not know what to say or do, people will say it’s a private matter. One in four women in Ireland experience domestic abuse, we need to let women know where to go for support, we need to empower our community to respond to this, we need to show perpetrators of abuse that abuse of any sort has no place in our community,” she urged.

Esker House is also extending the offer of becoming the Purple Hand Champion in Monksland with training underway in the coming weeks.

This is Monkland’s opportunity to stand in unity with the women of their community and to prove to perpetrators of domestic abuse that there is nowhere left to where domestic abuse will be tolerated or accepted.

Sarah Jayne Brennan, Co-Ordinator of the Training and Engagement at Esker House encouraged people to reach out and engage in this project.

“All it takes is for one person in the organisation, club or group to take an interest, build the momentum, get in touch and get working on tackling this issue,” she remarked.

In January of this year, Esker House was successful in their application for funding from the Community Innovation Fund from the Department of Justice, allowing it to deliver awareness raising campaigns and focus on delivering capacity training to groups.

The domestic violence service has established the Esker Project to utilise the funding through several targeted initiatives, ranging from brief training series that will cover topics such as coercive control, post separational abuse, children and domestic violence abuse and legal support.

Esker House is now resourced to deliver bespoke workshops in schools in relation to relationships and gender-based violence.

If you are interested in getting involved please contact the Training & Community Engagement Coordinator 087 447 4220 or you can email

Esker House also launched a new 24-hour freephone helpline earlier this month. They operate a 24-Hour Crisis Helpline 0906474122 or freephone 1800662288.

Esker House also provides temporary refuge accommodation, support and information service, court support services and specialist services for children and young people.