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Theatre Company and Traveller women join forces to tell the story of domestic violence

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The Traveller Movement and Solace Women’s Aid partnership project along with Giants Theatre Company, has joined forces with Gypsy, Traveller and Roma women to tell the story of domestic violence within the community.

Domestic violence and abuse is an issue for a large number of Gypsy and Traveller women in the UK; a 2007 study found that 81% of Irish Traveller women and 61% of English Gypsy women in married relationships had directly experienced domestic abuse.

Yet, a combination of traditional cultural values around relationships, low literacy rates and institutional barriers to services mean that it can be difficult for Gypsy and Traveller women to access support services.

The culmination of a yearlong project, which saw the theatre company and the Traveller Movement work with the women to write a play to increase awareness and understanding of domestic violence, within both communities and service providers.

The play itself tells the story of Moira Le Bas who is swept off her feet by the charming Patrick Murphy. Within a year Moira has left school and is starting a new life as Patrick’s wife, despite her cousin Bridie’s reservations. Twenty years later, it seems that Bridie was right and Moira is left wondering if she should have realised what Patrick was like when he promised: ‘I’m never going to beat you’.

Irish Traveller, Tina Purcell who is performing in the play said: “Through this play we’re hoping to make people aware and educate younger Travellers that domestic violence is not right and it shouldn’t happen.

A lot of people don’t realise domestic violence can kill, hopefully by seeing what happens to Moira, people will choose a different path. It’s been a mixed emotional process for all of the women taking part, but we’ve enjoyed it. I’m nervous but looking forward to the big night!”

Yvonne MacNamara CEO of the Traveller Movement said: “‘Never Going to Beat You’ is a raw and personal piece of community drama. With a cast formed of Gypsy and Traveller women alongside actor Paul McGuinness, the play is an authentic look at the realities of domestic violence within these communities”.

She added: “This play will not only benefit the Gypsy, Traveller and Roma community but will also be a helpful step in helping service providers understand the realities of domestic violence within these communities.”

Jennie Buckman of Giants Theatre Company, who co-wrote the play, said:

“Working with the women in writing and rehearsing the play has been a fantastic experience. Stories such as these are best told by members of the affected community, and this is why ‘never going to beat you’ is such a powerful production.”


London organisations respond to post-Brexit racist and sexist abuse by urging people to become Upstanders not Bystanders

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We are a large group of organisations in London supporting women affected by domestic, sexual and other forms of abuse against women and girls. We are dismayed at the huge increase in reports of racist incidents to many of our organisations over the past week. This follows the BREXIT vote in the UK which seems to have given credibility to racist and sexist behaviour and to abuse against immigrants. We are writing to ask your readers whoever you are to make sure that anyone facing this is not isolated or alone – that you safely show your support, that you report what is happening to police or transport police and become an Upstander not a Bystander.  Through silence we agree with this behaviour, by speaking out we represent the majority in London who abhor racism and sexism and do not want this in our city, and who welcome the rich diversity in London.

On behalf of:

Advice UK, Natalia Perez

Against Violence and Abuse (AVA), Donna Covey

Ashiana Network, Shaminder Ubhi

Asian Women’s Resource Centre, Sarbjit Ganger

Chinese Information and Advice Centre (CIAC), Jaime Law

EACH, Sandra Machado

Forward, Toks Okeniyi

IMECE Women’s Centre, Meral Halkaci

IMKAAN, Marai Larassi OBE, Director

Iranian and Kurdish Women’s Organisation (IKWRO), Diana Nammi

Jewish Women’s Aid, Naomi Dickson

Latin American Women’s Rights Service (LAWRS), Carolina Gottardo

NIA Ending Violence, Karen Ingala Smith

Respect, Sara Kirkpatrick

Rights of Women, Estelle du Boulay

Solace Women’s Aid, Mary Mason

Southall Black Sisters, Pragna Patel

Tender, Susie McDonald

Women’s Aid Federation of England, Nicki Norman

Women and Girls Network, Gurpreet Virdee

Women’s Resource Centre, Vivienne Hayes

Stand Up 4 Women comedy nights in aid of Solace

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2 WEEKS; 5 NIGHTS; 50 FUNNY WOMEN. Over the course of two weeks, there will be five fabulous comedy nights which will feature over 50 women in order to raise money for Solace Women’s Aid. All these women are empowered and of course extremely funny!


Monday 27th June 2016 – CAMDEN COMEDY CLUB
This little room above the Camden Head pub in Camden Town has featured comedy nights for a number of years, often being highlighted in Time Out magazine for the fantastic performers from the alternative comedy circuit right up to TV headliners and arena fillers. They have featured on BBC Radio, BBC TV, Evening Standard and Time Out magazine. It has a respectful reputation and therefore we are delighted to hold our Camden edition here, featuring some of the best funny women currently on the comedy circuit.

Featuring Cally Beaton, Victoria Howden, Sarah Mills, Sophie Henderson, Sindhu Vee, Desiree Burch with a special headliner TBA and hosted by Thanyia Moore.
Tickets – £7.00 in advance
Doors open: 6.45pm Show starts: 7.30pm
Buy Tickets: https://www.designmynight.com/london/whats-on/comedy/stand-up-4-women-camden?t=tickets



Considered one of the best open mic nights in South London (the organiser may be a bit biased but she only speaks the truth). The night regularly attracts up to twenty performers three nights a week and we are thankful that they have allowed us to hijack one of their nights to help us raise money. You’ll be guaranteed a good laugh and the comedians have a chance to have a free drink on the house if the audience shouts BUY THEM A DRINK!

Doors open at 7pm – FREE ENTRY (bucket donations at the end)


A 50-seat fringe theatre venue in South London, The Bread & Roses Theatre programs a wide-spread variety of productions for local as well as far-reaching audiences whilst providing theatre-makers with a space to develop and present their work. On September 21st 2015 The Bread & Roses Theatre was announced as a winner of the 2015 ICWP 50/50 Applause Award and also listed on Time Out as one of their readers’ six favourite small-scale theatres in London. We are so happy that Bread & Roses is hosting our Clapham edition which will feature some of the best funny women to look out for in 2016.

Featuring the talents of Suzy Wilde, Micky Overman, Alex Wieroniey, Arielle Souma, Fiona Ridgewell, Katie Pritchard and headlined by Harriet Kemsley
Tickets – £8.00 in advance
Doors open: 6.45pm Show starts: 7.30pm
Buy Tickets: http://www.designmynight.com/london/whats-on/comedy/stand-up-4-women-clapham-edition


Tuesday 5th July – RAH RAH ROOM, WEST END
The Rah Rah Room is a place where effortlessly stylish modernity goes hand in hand with good old-fashioned fun. The Rah Rah Room occupies a sweet spot in both place and size. It is a party venue without peer in the very heart of London which is the perfect venue to host the West End edition of our event. The night will featuring some of the best up and coming professional comedians.

Featuring Bec Hill, Viv Groskop, Sadia Azmat, Pippa Evans, Elf Lyons, Lolly Adefope
Tickets – £15.00 in advance, more on the door
Doors open: 6.45pm Show starts: 7.30pm
Buy Tickets: http://www.designmynight.com/london/whats-on/comedy/stand-up-4-women-west-end


Thursday 7th July – G&B COMEDY, WEST HAM
The promoter, Kyle Wallace runs ones of the most popular open mic nights amongst comedians. The reason why? … Because the night is filled with awesome fun. From Kyle himself performing magic tricks to the prizes given to the best clappers. G&B Comedy spoils audiences with buzzing rooms full of excitement, magic and great comedy and Kyle’s Girl Power Night is always a highlight.

Doors open at 7pm – FREE ENTRY (bucket donations at the end)


Solace needs your vote to win National Lottery Awards!

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Solace Women’s Aid’s Silver Project is through to the finals of this year’s National Lottery Awards and needs your vote to win.

The Awards are an annual search to find the UK’s favourite Lottery-funded projects, and they recognise and celebrate the difference that Lottery-funded projects make to communities across the UK.

Solace Women’s Aid’s Silver Project supports women in London aged 55 years and over who are affected by domestic and sexual violence. The project provides women with tailored one-to-one support to help improve their safety, health and confidence. It also provides training for professionals such as doctors, nurses, care workers and police officers to help them spot signs of abuse amongst older people.

The National Lottery Awards have seven categories – each reflecting an area of Lottery funding: Sport; Heritage; Arts; Environment; Health; Education; and Voluntary/Charity. The Silver Project is one of only seven projects to make it through to the finals in the Best Health Project category.

Mary Mason, CEO Solace Women’s Aid says: “We’re delighted that our Silver Project has reached the finals of The National Lottery Awards. With increased awareness of abuse we are tragically seeing more and more extremely vulnerable women over 55 in need of support following years or even decades of horrendous domestic or sexual violence. The Silver Project, funded by Lottery money, provides each woman with individual, often life-saving support. By voting for our Silver Project, the importance of this vital work will be recognised nationally, enabling us to help even more older-women who are being abused behind closed doors.”

The winning project in each category will receive national recognition on a star-studded BBC One TV show in early September and, in addition to the Lottery funding they have already received, will be given a £3,000 cash prize to spend on their project.

Voting for the finals starts at 9am on 22 June and ends at midnight on 20 July. To register your vote for The Silver Project call 0844 836 9704 or log on to www.lotterygoodcauses.org.uk/awards/health

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The Arsenal Foundation grant helps children & young people in Islington refuges

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Solace is extremely pleased to announce that The Arsenal Foundation has kindly donated £7,500 to help Solace provide vital support to children and young people living in our refuges in Islington.

the_arsenal_foundationMary Mason, CEO of Solace Women’s Aid, said:

“Solace Women’s Aid would like to thank The Arsenal Foundation for this generous grant. Families arrive in our refuges in crisis and through working with the children and young people and their mothers, providing emotional and practical support, we are able to minimise the damage caused by domestic abuse. Your funds will help with this crucial recovery work so children can move on from the trauma they’ve experienced and continue to fulfil their potential as young adults.”

Women’s voices: “The light that guided me through the darkness”

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I want to begin this with saying thank you to every single person who has been involved in making Solace possible. The work you do is priceless and it has changed my life and that of those around me for the better. Words cannot express how thankful I am to you for extending your hand in helping me climb out of the ditch, stand firm and see the world and myself and to walk towards my destination, no matter how uneven the pavements might be.

I came to Solace, eight months ago, frozen in time and completely dead on the inside, like a lifeless doll. Having tried therapy numerous times through other services, I was unsure as to whether this was going to work for me. On the first day, I was also a little lost in finding the address given that there were no signs, but that in itself attributed to feeling safe immediately.

Week after week, a little bit of me, came back alive. When I had tried therapy in the past, I needed to first explain the cultural side of things and go through a geography session of which part of the world I came from to the therapist but I didn’t have to go through that with my therapist from Solace. She knows how to help people that come from a minority ethnic background. I think this is very important and valuable, as not only does it save time and energy but also plays a big role in building the trust that is needed to open up and get on with the issues that lie at the core.

The dynamics of my close relationships have changed for the better, my career has taken a new direction, and I am finally following my passion of writing and doing a masters in a field that I enjoy. But most important of all I feel reborn.

In such a short amount of time, my therapist has helped me help myself. The dynamics of my close relationships have changed for the better, my career has taken a new direction, and I am finally following my passion of writing and doing a masters in a field that I enjoy. But most important of all I feel reborn. My therapy sessions have come to an end, but I know my healing has just begun. There will be ups and downs but I now have the armour to protect myself, the knowledge to notice the patterns, the courage to face the winters and my therapist says that I can always come back if I need more sessions.

I have always been sceptical of institutions but I have seen the work that Solace does first hand, and I hope to be in a position in the near future to support Solace to continue to do the life changing work they do. Unfortunately, there are far too many people who have experienced what I have and don’t have the privilege of coming to a place like Solace and meeting someone as knowledgeable, understanding, inspiring and caring as my therapist. I want to also thank the group facilitators of the arts therapy as that also hugely helped me.

I can say that I feel that I have a deeper understanding of what happened in my life, why I responded the way I did, why I have felt so disconnected from my body. I am learning to just be in the moment and enjoy the gift of being present. I don’t feel dead on the inside. I no longer want to be rescued. In short, feel that I have choices and more tools to take care of myself, something which was I was lacking before.

I am a survivor of war, child sexual abuse and human smuggling, honor based violence, domestic violence, sexual assault and harassment, addiction, failed systems and old traditions. And I still have so much love and hope for this world.

Meet our amazing volunteers: Apollonia

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I’ve always had a dream of being part of the Solace Women’s Aid’s team because I am passionate about helping women and children who are victims of any injustices that include Domestic Violence and Abuse. My long held dream came true in August 2015 when I applied for a position to become one of Solace’s dedicated volunteers. Since then, I have been volunteering with one of the Refuge’s, with the Floating Support team and at the head office Reception.

Volunteer APOLLONIAI find my work very fascinating and mind blowing experience as I go along doing my day to day duties. Especially when I am in between offices, I had the opportunity to meet a lot of staff members from different offices. Being at the head office it has helped me to learn more about the organisation really fast. The support I receive from other staff members is amazing and gives me a reason to want to know more and more so that I can give a professional service to women in whatever duty or role I have been assigned.


One of the things I mostly appreciate about Solace is the none stop training opportunities and exposure that nourishes my experience and equips me with the knowledge and skills that are essential for my future.


The training and workshops I have received have just reinforced Solace’s vision in my mind and in my career in becoming a professional worker in any department with a very professional approach combined with a therapeutic method towards women and children.

‘Changing our Heads’: Evaluating our services for Albanian Speaking Women

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We are pleased to announce the launch of a new report by the Child and Woman Abuse Studies Unit (CWASU) at London Metropolitan University. The report, ‘Changing our Heads’, is an evaluation of the partnership between Shpresa Programme and Solace Women’s Aid to develop a specialist service for Albanian Speaking Women experiencing violence in London.

The focus of this report, commissioned by Trust for London, is on the lessons that can be learned from this model of provision, to inform the development of sustainable services for women from newly arrived communities in London. The final report in based on two years of delivery of the project from October 2013 – September 2015.

Read the full report here


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Big Lottery funds new Solace Women’s Aid project to help end abuse against young women and girls

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Solace Women’s Aid will receive almost three quarters of a million pounds of Big Lottery funding for First Stand, a young women and girls led project in Islington and Haringey which aims to empower young people and help eradicate violence and abuse. The competition was tough, and out of 1000 enquires only 63 projects nationwide have been awarded money from the Big Lottery Fund. The project will address all forms of abuse including domestic violence, sexual abuse, forced marriage, female genital mutilation, revenge porn, honour based violence, objectification of girls and digital bullying and harassment.

BL logoOver the last year in Islington and Haringey there were more than 5000 reports of domestic crime and over 1000 reports of rape and sexual violence (Met Police). Around three quarters of female victims of rape & other sexual offences recorded by the police were aged under 30 (Office of National Statistics). Social media, whilst not causing abuse, has broadened access to pornography and assisted in a culture of acceptance and normalisation of abuse.

The First Stand project, run by Solace Women’s Aid, will challenge the cultural acceptability of the abuse of women and girls in our communities by building a network of ‘champions’ aged 11-19. They’ll drive the project, delivering training in schools and community settings to raise awareness of abuse and help young people build their confidence, self-esteem and resilience. First Stand will also provide a safe space for young people to disclose their experiences, get the support they need to recover, and move on to futures free from abuse.

Mary Mason, CEO at Solace Women’s Aid, said:

“We are extremely pleased to be awarded this funding from Big Lottery. Devastatingly, all forms of violence and abuse against women continue to rise in London and the bias towards young women and girls is shocking. We want to create a radical cultural shift and a change in attitudes, led by young women and girls so that every part of the project is informed by those who will benefit.”


Solace is recruiting a new Director of Operations

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Solace Women’s Aid is one of London’s leading providers of Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) services, working with over 10,000 survivors each year.  We are looking to recruit a Director of Operations to lead  our excellent and innovative services across London. If you are interested in this position and would like to speak with our CEO, Mary Mason, to find out more you are invited to contact her at m.mason@solacewomensaid.org

Job Reference Number : SWA25111

We are seeking a Director with expertise in domestic and sexual violence services and a sophisticated approach to working with multiple stakeholders.  As Director of Operations you will lead a large team of over 120 staff and around 80 volunteers delivering and developing services including advice, advocacy, refuge, therapeutic and children and young people’s services. The Director of Operations is a significant role, managing 3 Senior Managers and reporting directly to the Chief Executive. The role includes a range of development and support work, quality assurance, data analysis, service development, project management and staff support and training.

We are seeking a high calibre individual who can work strategically, drawing upon wide-ranging business operations awareness and a very strong track record of high quality service delivery. Providing leadership to a large, geographically dispersed team, you will need to demonstrate excellent influencing and networking skills in a multi-stakeholder environment.

We are very proud that our current Director is leaving us to take up the position of Chief Executive in a similar organisation in the Midlands. We welcome applications from senior leaders already working at a Director level and from senior managers looking to step up to a Director role. Support and development opportunities are available for candidates ready to make this career move.

Solace Women’s Aid is a feminist organisation which values diversity, promotes equality and challenges discrimination. We encourage and welcome applications from people of all backgrounds.

Closing date:   Tuesday 31 May 9am

Interviews:      There will be two assessments and interviews for this role: Thursday 2 June and Monday 6 June/Wednesday 8 June (TBC)

Application Form

Equality Monitoring Form

Job Description & Person Specification

To apply please complete  an application form and equality monitoring form; quoting the reference number SWA25111 and return it to recruitment@solacewomensaid.org Late Applications and CV will NOT be accepted.

If you are having problems downloading the application documents  please email recruitment@solacewomensaid.org and we will send you the relevant application pack. Please note, the application forms need to be completed and returned to us by 31st  May (9am)

Solace Women’s Aid values diversity, promotes equality and challenges discrimination. We encourage and welcome applications from people of all backgrounds.

This post is exempt from the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act
Posts will be subject to an enhanced DBS check and open to women only. (Exempt under the Equality Act 2010 Schedule 9, Part 1)

No agencies please.