Satisfaction Guaranteed by Denise Marcia James
News & Events
Solace is proud to announce that sevendedicated Solace volunteers, who are now working on the North London Rape Crisis helpline, have been awarded with the OCN ‘Award for Professionals Working in the Sexual Violence Sector’.
All volunteers who work on the helpline take part in a 10 – week training course to enable them to support female survivors of sexual violence by developing non-directive listening skills and getting the necessary knowledge and awareness to provide information to survivors, their supporters and other agencies. The training covers key areas relating to working with survivors of sexual violence and abuse including: childhood sexual abuse, rape and the legal system, self-harming, coping strategies and myths & stereotypes around rape and sexual abuse.
Solace Women’s Aid is pleased to announce the election of a new Chair of Trustees, Helen Hughes. Helen brings over 25 years Board level leadership experience in public services and a personal understanding to Solace’s work. She is committed to helping the organisation to deliver excellent services, by being a strong and supportive employer. Helen is a qualified accountant whose career has focused on managing NHS organisations, improving patient safety in the UK and internationally for the World Health Organisation and in executive roles at the Equality & Human Right Commission and Parliamentary and Health Ombudsman.
“We feel privileged to have such an experienced and passionate Chair on board. We look forward to working with Helen to build and improve on our strong foundations in this challenging economic climate so we are able to continue providing specialist, life-saving support for women and children affected by domestic and sexual abuse.”
Helen Hughes, Chair of Trustees, said:
“I’m excited about bringing my wealth of managerial experience to such an outstanding organisation at a time when I can be part of shaping the future of the charity; to build on, support and inspire what Solace is already doing so well. What really stands out is the expertise among staff and trustees, the quality of service delivery as well as the unique and authentic voice of survivors which creates a genuine client centred approach.
I’ve always been driven by a strong sense of social justice and I have seen first-hand the pain and distress that abusive patterns cause. I feel strongly about working at the source of these issues; to prevent these repetitive patterns and intervene early, allowing women and children to live free from violence and abuse.”
Find out more about our Board of trustees
On Wednesday 4 May at 7.30, three talented folk acts will play Folk Against Violence (FAV) at St Pancras Old Church to benefit Solace Women’s Aid. Katey Brooks, Xylaroo and Wednesday’s Wolves will present a stunning night of music with all proceeds going directly to Solace. You can find more information and buy tickets at fav2016.eventbrite.co.UK.
Come join us at this beautiful venue with an amazing line-up–all for a great cause to help make London a safer place for women and children.
Folk Against Violence (FAV) is presented by Sounds of Solace, a volunteer organization that supports Solace Women’s Aid by producing music events for the direct benefit of the charity. The signature Rock Against Violence (RAV) event will take place in November 2016.
Our Community. Our Music. Our Power to Change.
Date: Wednesday 4th May 2016
Time: 7.30pm – 10.00pm
Venue: St Pancras Old Church (closest station is Kings Cross and St. Pancras International)
50 years on from Cathy Come Home, women and children are still being failed by the housing system as survivors are punished for fleeing abuse, often plunging them into poverty and insecurity, and hampering their chances of recovery.
A new report, The Price of Safety, published today by Solace Women’s Aid shows that survivors are being dramatically failed by major flaws in the housing system. Refuges provide a temporary safe haven, but the unequal and unfair system can leave women and children vulnerable and often feeling they have little choice but to risk their own safety and return home to their abuser.
Mary Mason, CEO at Solace says, ‘time and time again women fleeing abuse are being utterly let down, re-victimised and traumatised by this unfair treatment’.
The unjust and inconsistent approach to housing means numerous women are losing out as a result of fleeing violence which places them at greater risk of poverty and destitution. Our report shows that over 60% of women entering Solace Women’s Aid refuges from a secure tenancy lose this on leaving the refuge. Housing officers regularly question the credibility of women’s stories often sending them back home despite the risk. Women and children are forced to join the back of the housing queue, to move multiple times between unsuitable and unsafe temporary accommodation like hostels and B&BS, while perpetrators often go unpunished and remain within family-sized homes. These travesties of justice are preventing vulnerable women and children from recovering from abuse, re-integrating into society and moving towards safe, independent lives.
The public purse is bearing the brunt of the cost. A recent study commissioned by London Councils found the cost of temporary accommodation across London in 2014/15 was close to £663million – a portion of which could be saved if the housing situation for women and children affected by abuse was more effectively managed.
In order to end these injustices, Solace Women’s Aid calls for a secure and consistent approach to the housing response to domestic abuse survivors across London and a ‘zero tolerance’ approach from landlords to perpetrators who remain in the family home.
After suffering a long history of domestic abuse at the hands of her father and then her ex-husband, Shena, who is currently living in a Solace refuge, escaped to safety. While living in secure housing, the perpetrator found her through family contacts and continued to harass her and broke into her property. He bombarded her with phone calls and distressing texts including threats to pay someone to have her killed. She was finally given a Restraining Order under the Protection from Harassment Act with no end date. However, he breached this order on a number of occasions and was imprisoned three times as a result, with the final conviction resulting in a six months custodial sentence. So fearful about his release Shena fled her home to live in a refuge again so he couldn’t find her when his sentence ended and carry out his threats. In the past 18 Months Shena who has a secure Tenancy with a Housing Association has endured a fruitless battle in pleading with the Housing Association to move her to a safe permanent address unknown to the perpetrator, she is still waiting. Even with the evidence of criminal convictions and supporting letters from the police, who consider her at significant risk, the Housing Association doesn’t consider this level of threat significant enough to move her to another, safe home. When exploring alternative housing options she also met with local authority housing officers who were equally unhelpful and dismissive. The Key Worker at a Solace refuge who is supporting Shena and advocating for housing on her behalf says, “It’s absolutely soul destroying for Shena that the people meant to help her are completely failing to do so. It is so debilitating for women to come up against these injustices without an end in sight.” Like so many others, Shena continues to fight for a safe home to live in but tragically the battle is far from over.
*This name has been used to protect the survivor’s identity.
The Board of trustees is looking to recruit a talented new member to complement the skills and expertise of the existing Board. Strong candidates will be able to demonstrate knowledge of and expertise in the therapeutic field (counselling or psychotherapy). Candidates should have a deep understanding of the psychological impact of abuse and the challenges abuse represents to the designing and delivering effective therapeutic services.
Successful candidates will be required to attend 4 board meetings and two away days each year as well as participate on a board sub-committee. Trustees can claim reasonable out-of-pocket and travel expenses but are not otherwise remunerated.
To apply please complete the attached application form quoting the reference number SWA25091 and return it to email@example.com. The closing date for applications is 12noon, Monday 21st March 2016.
Interviews will take place during the weeks commencing 4th and 11th of April.
Solace Women’s Aid values diversity, promotes equality and challenges discrimination. We encourage and welcome applications from women of all backgrounds. Applicants from BME groups are particularly encouraged to apply. The post is exempt from the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act, will be subject to an enhanced DBS check and open to women only (exempt under the Equality Act 2010).
For this year’s International Women’s Day on Tuesday 8th March we’re launching a social media campaign, #DineForSolace. We’re asking supporters to celebrate the wonderful women in their lives and raise money for Solace by dining together and donating money.
Solace Women’s Aid supports 10,000 women a year who are survivors of domestic and sexual violence, including childhood abuse. Demand for services continues to grow at an alarming rate and the donations raised will go directly towards helping women and their children.
It’s easy to make time to dine for Solace. If you’re more inspired by delicious meals than running marathons you can still make a huge difference to the lives of women and children affected by abuse.
The campaign encourages people to get together and cook for their friends, family and colleagues, and in return ask for contributions and donations. Making breakfast for four friends, each contributing £5, would help provide essential items for a family staying in a refuge. Making lunch for four colleagues, charging £10 per head, could pay towards life-changing counselling sessions for a woman recovering from abuse and trauma. Cooking dinner for four guests, each donating £20 for the meal, could help pay for a child to attend regular art therapy session to help them cope after witnessing abuse.
Money raised can be donated at www.solacewomensaid.org/donate and everyone is encouraged to share their #DineForSolace snaps with Solace on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram. With the public’s help and donations, Solace can continue to support women and children in rebuilding their lives free from abuse.
We are proud to announce that we have four runners in the London Marathon this year. They decided to run for Solace as they all are committed to the cause of helping women and children escaping domestic and sexual violence and are impressed with the way Solace helps and supports more than 10,000 a year.
Vicki Read is 44 years old and has been working in the Leisure Industry since she was 16. “With my career choice, most people think I should be the fittest person in the world, which is not the case!”
After running several events in aid of a Hospice that cared for her mum, Vicki decided to run for Solace when she got her place in the marathon this year. “I wanted to raise some serious cash for another small but very deserving Charity. One of my friends told me about Solace and the great work you do – She volunteers for Solace and was so passionate about the work she and the charity does. After looking at what Solace does, it was an easy decision to make. I know how important Mum’s are, and I miss mine every day. My mum was the person that encouraged me and made me the person I am today and the thought that any child can’t feel that and have that attention from their Mum’s because they are dealing with abuse on a daily basis is really heart-breaking for me.”
“I am hoping to raise £1000 as a minimum and I know that this will make a huge difference to people’s lives. There is 59 days to go and training is going well, this will be my first ever Marathon so my hope is really just to finish !!!!”
Maggie Bridge has been volunteering with Solace since she graduated, “Since graduating, I’ve been working across two Lambeth refuges for women and children fleeing domestic violence. These refuges are run by Solace Women’s Aid – a London-based charity, dedicated to ending the harm done to women and children through domestic and sexual violence by working alongside survivors to achieve independent lives, free from abuse. During my time with Solace, I have had the opportunity to see the day-to-day realities of the vital work they do, as well as the cost to the recoveries and lives of survivors when a lack of funding impedes the progress the organisation is able to make,”
Michael Burkitt is an artist, curator and art teacher who empathises with Solace’s plight to help more women and children affected by domestic violence. He started running after committing to running for Solace this year and his journey is documented in http://beastinglondon.blogspot.co.uk/
“ It’s a no brainer to choose which charity to run for. When we hear stories about women and children needing help to escape their own home, we need to make it possible for them to do so. What’s impressive for me is how Solace has been listening to women for the last 40 years. Solace are in the final year of a 3-year strategy to expand services, and the number of women and children they help has increased by 70% during this time. Just as importantly they have involved service users in their planning so that they can continue to improve the way they work. This has already paid off and 95% of service users who took part in the last survey rated the service as good or excellent, saying Solace had helped them feel safer, more confident or in control,”
Joanna Crew came to us after she won a place in London Marathon this year.
“I have chosen to run for Solace Women’s Aid. For me, running helped me to realise my own power and to harness that to achieve more than I thought I could: through supporting Solace in the London Marathon 2016, I want to help other women to begin to realise and reclaim that power too.”
Following on from a recent Spare Tyre and Solace Women’s Aid collaboration, we are excited to announce that we will be exhibiting photography created by women who have experienced violence at Islington Arts Factory in north London during March 2016.
Last autumn, Spare Tyre artists worked creatively with a core group of women from Solace Women’s Aid to explore themes of hope, aspirations, perspectives and transformation. During weekly sessions, the women experimented with process, artforms and subject matter. The project culminated in women developing their perspectives through the lens of a camera. Collaboratively and independently women explored their surrounding environments producing a final photography show: Blue Skies.
This public exhibition follows a private launch event in late January, which was opened by Spare Tyre’s Patron Baroness Elizabeth Barker. It is timed to connect with International Women’s Day, celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women.
Blue Skies exhibition
Date: 11th March – 1st April 2016
Time: Open daily
Venue: Islington Arts Factory, Café Gallery, 2 Parkhurst Road London N7 0SF
Website: Islington Arts Factory
In 2014 I applied to Solace’s North London Rape Crisis (NLRC) for Student Placement and was successful. I have now been with Solace for a year and have felt very nourished and satisfied as a student on placement. From the word go, I was treated well and given all the support I needed, not just to be a good worker but also for personal development. For example, the interview process was very friendly; the induction process was thorough and equipped me to work therapeutically and professionally with women affected by sexual violence. I have been very happy and impressed with the ongoing quality and expertise in the workshops and training delivered. Additionally, Solace excels itself in its reimbursement of travel expenses and lunch.
‘The induction process was thorough and equipped me to work therapeutically and professionally with women affected by sexual violence. I have been very happy and impressed with the ongoing quality and expertise in the workshops and training delivered.’
Through my experience of being a counsellor at the NLRC, I have learned how to work with Judith Herman’s stages of recovery from trauma, with psycho-education and pre-trial, and have gained in understanding and skills working with the body as an aid to recovery and the management of PTSD symptoms. I feel so privileged that I have been given an exceptional tool bag that enables me to be the best counsellor I can be, and help women in the way that is needed for optimal recovery after such experiences. I leave Solace each week feeling very blessed because I now have job satisfaction!
Any student would be happy and satisfied to be on placement at Solace because of how much support, learning and good consistent supervision that is provided. Solace as an organisation truly meets and exceeds student needs and expectations. When I share my experiences at Solace at college and some of my fellow students shares theirs’, I am reminded what a great placement I have and how very lucky I am to have experience with Solace. Solace doesn’t take advantage of its volunteers, it strives to make it a good and personal developing experience.
‘As a woman I feel empowered within Solace and its structures. I feel I have a voice and that I am valued and respected.’
As a woman I feel empowered within Solace and its structures. I feel I have a voice and that I am valued and respected. I don’t feel a “them and us,” even as an unpaid worker. As such, in my day to day life, when coming across anyone looking for placement and/or enquiring after a service that works with domestic and sexual violence for themselves or someone they know, I mention Solace and all that is on offer there.