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Latest News

Solace is recruiting a Clinical Trustee

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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.

Clinical- Trustee Application Pack FV

151001 Trustee Application Form

To apply please complete the attached application form quoting the reference number SWA25091 and return it to recruitment@solacewomensaid.org.   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).

Donate a gift today to support a woman and child fleeing violence this winter

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Around the festive period – when we see even more women fleeing abusive partners as the violence and threat escalates –  Solace needs your help to provide for the most basic of needs.

Many women and children will be arriving at our refuges this winter with nothing but the clothes they’re wearing; Alone, their confidence destroyed and traumatised from experiencing horrific abuse. Solace offers them a safe space, support and something of their own.

A gift of £14 could pay for an essentials welcome pack with food and toiletries for a mother and child arriving at one of our refuges this winter

For the same amount as a small present, making a donation of £14 could make those first steps to safety and recovery that little bit easier this winter.

Click HERE TO DONATE NOW or text SOLA07 with the amount (£4, £14, £40) to 70070 e.g. SOLA07£10

 

Milena’s Journey

Last year Milena found solace at one of our refuges. Read about her journey towards recovery:

Surviving abuse…

Milena’s husband was initially charming and confident, but he quickly became increasingly controlling and abusive. He decided what she could wear, what she could eat and who she could see. He would demand sex and rape her when she refused. Milena was abused physically, emotionally, financially and sexually for five years. The violence continued to escalate and on one occasion he violently pulled her around by her hair and tried to choke her.

The first steps to safety…

After several attempts to leave, which can often be the most dangerous time for women and children, she was finally able to escape.

But getting away, and finding solace at one of our refuges was just the first step towards safety and recovery. Over the next few months she got specialist help and access a range of our holistic services.

Rebuilding and recovering…

Attending the Solace ARISE domestic violence awareness program helped Milena understand the dynamics of abuse and rebuild her confidence and self-agency and build resilience to further abuse by recognising early abusive behaviours. Weekly 1-1 emotional and practical support meant she had consistent support to work through her experiences and also start to stabilise her financial situation. Participating in a Solace parenting programme vitally helped rebuild and improve her relationship with her daughter.

The journey continues…

Having accessed a foundation of specialist support through the refuge, Milena has now been referred to our counselling team to help work through more of the emotional scars inflicted by abuse and she will also get practical support and further independence through our Leap into Work scheme.

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Volunteer Awards 2017

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In December we held the volunteer awards ceremony. We would like to say a huge congratulations to all those volunteers who received an award and a big thank you to those who attended the event. We do hope you enjoyed the event and especially the quiz.

Volunteer Empowerment Award – Camilla

Camilla has performed her role as NLRC helpline volunteer since February 2017. It has been an absolutely pleasure to work with Camilla as she is unfailingly enthusiastic and committed to our work in combating injustice and gender inequality. Camilla has contributed to empower survivors reaching the helpline by explaining their rights, recognizing the abuse and providing different alternatives. Camilla has been an inspiration for other members of the team and for the new volunteers whom she has been supporting. I feel that we have gained not only an excellent professional for our team but we have the pleasure of working with someone extremely kind, who genuinely inspired us all. She has a very approachable manner, is an excellent listener and genuinely cares about the well-being of others. Having witnessed Camilla’s dedication and commitment to her work with NLRC, I wish to recommend her for the Volunteer Empowerment Award.

Volunteer Empowerment Award – Nora

Nora has been providing weekly 1:1 support to a current service user for the past 6 months. She supports the service user in identifying her goals and taking small realistic steps to achieve them. Nora is calm and supportive yet has a positive, can do attitude which is truly empowering. The service user she is supporting has gone from strength to strength and is very grateful to Nora for the motivation, encouragement and belief she has in her.
Nora’s strength and courage is inspirational and she has truly made a difference to the woman’s lives she has touched and that is why we believe Nora deserves the Volunteer Empowerment Award.

Volunteer Commitment Award – Catherine

Catherine has been committed to delivering massage treatments for the WRAP Project at Hornsey Road. Catherine has provided numerous massage sessions over the past two years which have helped the women who attend to relax, take time out for themselves and be in a safe and supportive environment. Catherine has shown great generosity, commitment and care towards the women and her efforts have been much appreciated.

Volunteer Commitment Award – Emina

Emina is absolutely wonderful to work with. She is very committed to Solace and this shows in the quality of her work, her keenness in attending a number of training sessions and also volunteering for the Solace Advice Line.
Emina has undertaken a variety of tasks at Waltham Forest SASS including assisting with covering duty, admin, making initial contact with service users and completing risk assessments with them. Emina is very skilled in working with service users and has an understanding and empathetic approach towards them. The team at Waltham Forest have been very impressed with her ability to quickly understand the tasks and help us out during a consistently busy advocacy service.
We are thankful for Emina’s help, commitment and enthusiasm towards not just assisting service users but the team. Emina demonstrates initiative and has a wonderful sense of humour to match!
Emina is truly valued within the team and we wish her best in any roles she chooses to undertake in future – we know she will be an asset wherever she goes.

Volunteer of the Year Award – Jamie

In her role as NLRC helpline volunteer, Jamie has been providing emotional support over the phone to women and girls who have experienced sexual violence for more than 200 hours since February 2017. Jamie has conducted her role very effectively, showing excellent use of essential listening skills and an empathetic and truly approachable manner with survivors seeking support and with colleagues requiring assistance. As such, she is a well-respected and trusted member of our team who could be relied upon to provide support and complete work to the highest standards. Jamie has offered valuable assistance to the NLRC team during busy times and for the last months she has also been supporting the SWA Advice team volunteering simultaneously for both services. Her insight on improvements we can implement based on her experience of working in these two services has been invaluable. Jamie is an extremely kind, thoughtful, dedicated and committed person. Her work has been outstanding compared with other volunteers which is why I believe that she should be granted the Volunteer of the Year Award.

Volunteer Newcomer Award – Eve

Eve is passionate about supporting survivors of domestic violence and children who have fled their homes. This was immediately evident during Eve’s first few hours at the refuge as she confidently supported a new resident with attending a GP appointment. Eve’s warmth and empathy was so appreciated that the resident later reported to me that Eve was very caring and the support Eve provided was really helpful. Eve has been supporting mothers and children during key work sessions. Children look forward to having Eve present and really enjoy the activities she prepares for them. Eve has a proactive attitude when it comes to supporting the children at the refuges.
Eve played a strong part in a key work session where a mother was very nervous about accepting accommodation offered to her. Eve supported the mother by exploring the pros and cons of the accommodation, reassured the mother that there will be resettlement support and as a result, the service user decided to accept the accommodation and left the key work session feeling supported.

Volunteer Length of Service Award – Ida

Ida has been a volunteer with Solaces counselling service since November 2008. I was amazed when I looked through Ida’s file to see how long she has been giving her time and supporting to so many women. I met Ida when I joined in November 2014 when she came upstairs to see Roxana who was the Senior Counsellor at the time. I know Ida won’t mind me saying that IT was not her thing at the time but she has shown much perseverance in getting to know the new Oasis system and has cracked it!

Looking back at the records that were kept I am only able to go back to 2011 as prior to this my understanding is that everything was recorded on paper! Just going back and viewing the records we have I would say Ida has been allocated around 100 clients which is incredible.

During the time I have known Ida she regularly attends the clinical counselling meetings where she is always happy to explore her clients and share her knowledge with other counsellors in the team with whom she has developed a good relationship. It is always a pleasure to see Ida when she pops into the office as she has a great sense of humor and will always bring a smile to your day. I feel Ida should be given the Volunteer Length of Service Award as she really has been a fantastic volunteer and truly deserves this for all the help and support she has given to women and to the counselling team. Amazing dedication.

Royal Parks Half Marathon 2018

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Run for safe lives and strong futures. Violence against women and girls ends with you.

Join the Racing Against Violence team by taking part in the Royal Parks Half Marathon 2018 to help get closer to a future free from domestic abuse and sexual violence. Run through the beautiful parks of London this autumn, past Buckingham Palace and the other amazing sites and the atmosphere is incredible! Join our team today.

Date: 14th October 2018
Registration Fee: £35
Sponsorship: £225
To reserve your place today email: fundraising@solacewomensaid.org

Thank you for Supporting The Big Give

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Thank you to everyone who made a donation to our Big Give Christmas Campaign.

We received over 50 donations raising £10,243, then with gift aid and match funding from The Childhood Trust we raised an amazing £22346.25!

This donation will provide a play worker to work across our refuges, supporting 277 children for a year from April 2018. Play work is vital to helping a child reclaim their childhood, and be on their path to recovery. It is essential to be able to offer this is refuges as two thirds of the women living in refuge will have children. We support over 100 children refuge at any one time.

So thank you to everyone who got involved or made a donation to the Campaign. You have changed the future for these children.

16 days of action – Working with GPs to identify & respond to domestic abuse

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Domestic abuse and violence threatens women’s physical health, mental health, social functioning, and poses a serious public health problem with devastating health consequences. There are also enormous costs to the health services. As I write this, somewhere in an emergency department, GP surgery or at a dentist clinic, our medical professionals- doctors, nurses, midwives (to name a few) will be dealing with situations where women have been assaulted, injured or emotionally and psychologically abused. Primary care clinicians potentially have a key role in the identification of and provide initial professional response to domestic violence and abuse. Victims who are abused are more likely to be in touch with health services than any other professional or agencies.

GP surgery staff can play a crucial role, GPs are the only professionals that consistently and actively engage with both victims and perpetrators.

The IRIS Service has been rolled out in different boroughs in London and across some parts of England, Wales and Scotland. The service aims to train all staff within GP Practices on domestic violence and abuse (DVA), clinical enquiry, care pathways and an enhanced referral pathway to specialist domestic violence services. The training helps in enhancing knowledge on DVA as well as challenging pre-existing attitudes and beliefs of doctors and nurses. The training provides information on how to ask their patients whether they are experiencing domestic violence and abuse. A referral pathways is then set up and early intervention is provided to support and ensure the safety of women and their children.

The sad reality of many women who are abused is the fact that they are constantly monitored and controlled, therefore meeting patients face to face at the GP surgeries means that they are able to speak to the IRIS AEs safely and without arousing suspicion.

Many patients referred to IRIS go to their GP because they are reluctant and frightened to report to the police and feel more confident for their information to be recorded by their surgery. Some of these women have a long traumatic history of complex needs and can sometimes be hard to engage with. The advantage, however, in some cases is that IRIS AEs can quickly liaise with the victim’s GP in order to ensure that they are seen quickly and referrals are made to support any physical or mental health needs.

We have also noticed increased referrals from older women. Sometimes older women feel a sense of shame and are more hesitant to talk about their situation for many years and have been living in emotionally abusive and financially controlling relationships. Older women may feel reluctant to report incidents to the police but find it easier to approach their GP.

Solace IRIS in Islington has trained and are engaging with 80% of the surgeries within Islington. Our referrals have increased which means that GP staff are now more confident in enquiring and identifying DVA. This means that more victims of domestic abuse are getting the help and support they so desperately need, often at a time when their confidence, self-esteem and resilience is at an all-time low. Children in families where domestic abuse occurs are often traumatised even if the abuse is not directed at them and early identification and intervention can have a significant impact on a child’s development assisting with building up resilience and a positive outlook.

“ When you are alone your support can be the difference between wanting to end it or for me to carry on. I feel able to manage life with the support on my own.” Service User, Solace IRIS
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16 days of action – Sexual Harassment – the last taboo at work?

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Sexual Harassment – the last taboo at work?

The subject of work place sexual harassment has exploded post Weinstein with a host of other men who have been named for what they are – sexual predators. Let’s not pretend that it has been easy to recall, relive and name perpetrators even though much of it has been done online. Many women have joined the #MeToo campaign, and whilst not all have named their perpetrator, they have all spoken about the experiences of sexual harassment they have endured; be it yesterday or years past.

To be clear the definition of sexual harassment in a workplace, or other professional or social situation, involves the making of unwanted sexual advances or obscene remarks or put another way sexual harassment is unwanted behaviour of a sexual nature which;
• violates your dignity
• makes you feel intimidated, degraded or humiliated
• creates a hostile or offensive environment

And you don’t need to have previously objected to someone’s behaviour for it to be considered unwanted.

What is plain, is that many companies, organisations and even government bodies have had the effectiveness of their workplace sexual harassment policy’s called-out as stacked against women being able to make a complaint in the first place, or complaints not being taken seriously, where both the culture and leadership have been complicit in ‘making complaints go away’.

How to change this and where to start?
It might not seem a selling-point in terms of staff recruitment, but all new staff must be told that sexual harassment is not tolerated. Safe recruitment practices are a vital step in creating safe places to work.

It has to be talked about and everyone has to be committed making sure everyone is safe at work as perpetrators rely on silence. Every workplace needs a sexual harassment and abuse policy. Effective ones define what sexual harassment is and clearly stated consequences. “It’s not okay” needs to be the mantra and the consequences must be clear and enforced with no exceptions for rank or seniority.

In fact, standards of professional conduct and behaviour should be in the contract of employment and made explicitly clear; and ‘how we work with each other’ should be on notice boards, on meeting agendas, in newsletters, on the intranet and even pinned up in the loo, so no place exists for a perpetrator to hide behind.

If someone needs to make a complaint they need to have more than a visit to HR and a formal complaint form. They may also need an advocate to support them as many employee’s feel that some HR departments are not there for them but work for the company. Irrespective of whether this is true or not, it takes a great deal of courage and resilience to make a complaint and see it through. A good employer will also make clear the limits of confidentiality that exist and whether or not a report about sexual harassment triggers notification to senior management.

To really show support for their staff, everyone should also have access to an external route to make a complaint and to receive support. To do this, companies should name and publicise their local rape crisis centre or domestic violence organisation giving their contact details.

No one is untouchable, no matter if they are talented high performers, because it is a fact that perpetrators target people they believe are vulnerable, less believable, or less powerful than them.

16 days of action – Double your donation today!

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Support our Big Give campaign to help children in refuges

Play work makes a huge difference to the support we can provide children living in our refuges. This year our Big Give campaign is aiming to raise £20,000 to support 277 children that live in our refuges across London.

But we need your help. Every donation you make will be doubled by The Childhood Trust and a private donor.

This means every £5 you give will become £10, doubling your impact.

Being able to provide play work in refuges is essential for a child’s healing after living in a home with domestic abuse. 62% of children who live in domestic violence households will also have experienced abuse, 60% of them will believe they are to blame and 52% will have further needs. Being able to provide play work will ensure that they can start to rebuild their childhood, understand their feeling and find the fun.

By donating to Playing the Way to Recovery through The Big Give this week you are giving children their childhoods back.

Thank you for your support.

16 days of action – Organisations have a duty to respond

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Our understanding of domestic abuse is changing and organisations have a duty to respond

Did you know that domestic abuse costs UK businesses an estimated £2.7 billion a year in productivity, concentration, absences and staff turnover? Did you know that over 90% of those impacted by domestic abuse reported an impact on colleagues, including direct harm or threats? 1 in 3 will disclose domestic abuse to a colleague or manager, would you know how to respond?

Our understanding of domestic abuse is changing. Where once we shied away from interfering in people’s personal affairs, we now understand that we as society must stand together against domestic abuse. Where once we assumed a clear separation between work life and personal life, we now understand how much one impacts on and intersects with the other. Where once organisations only thought of their employees’ occupational health, wellbeing teams are now well established across sectors.

As these boundaries blur, the question remains, what responsibility do organisations have when a member of their staff is experiencing domestic abuse?

More and more, organisations are recognising that this is something that may impact their staff and that this may have a ripple effect on their work, colleagues and ultimately, their bottom line. There are also risks to consider – research by the TUC (2014) found that 80% of survivors reported being harassed by their perpetrator at work, 90% reported an impact on co-workers, and 1 in 4 reported direct harm or threats against colleagues. Furthermore, 1 in 3 survivors will disclose abuse to a colleague or manager. However, 90% of our survivors surveyed stated their workplaces had no policies or procedures in place to support them.

Our training helps organisations develop their response to survivors, through raising awareness and understanding, and sharing strategies for recognising and responding to domestic abuse, we help organisations walk away with practical strategies to ensure the safety and wellbeing of their staff. Want to find out more? Contact Carrie at training@solacewomensaid.org to find out how our training can help you to support survivors to move towards safer futures, free from violence and abuse.

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16 days of action – Self-care matters

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Self care . . . self-help . . . self-support – whatever you call it; and whether you do it all the time, never quite get round to it, or cringe at the idea, we know it matters. Research into 340 NHS staff working therapeutically with patients found that those with strategies for coping and self-care were at lower risk of burn-out than those without.

I used to pride myself on my work ethic – turning up early, leaving work late, never saying no, and being the best I could be to everyone, all of the time, no excuses. I loved how many friends and family came to me with their problems. My identity as helper, supporter-of-the-downtrodden and all-round ‘yes’ person gave me a sense of place and purpose in the world.

At work, I often skipped lunch – too busy to stop, too busy to take a break, and far too busy saving the world to look after my own basic needs. What I never did was stop, look around me, watch some trashy TV, or go outside and look up at the changing seasons and take a moment to appreciate all that is good and beautiful in the world.

It took one of my best friends distancing herself from me to kick-start my own long and uncomfortable journey towards taking self-care more seriously. This friend was on a journey of self-discovery, learning to be more independent, and locating her inner resources and capacities (of which she has bucket loads by the way). She gently told me that at times I was too rescuing, and she was starting to find it unhelpful. ‘You never spend any time looking after yourself’ she observed, ‘what are your own interests or hobbies?’. I had no idea. She was right. The painful truth is that I took on the role of rescuer because without someone else to worry about I felt empty and blank.

Learning to set boundaries, gently but clearly say no, and create time and space for myself is the best thing I could ever have done. I have realised that what I really enjoy is watching Masterchef in my PJ’s, going to a monthly weaving group, cycling round my local park in the early morning, and going out for dinner with friends. And these are things I build into my life and make sure I do every week. Of course I still struggle with those outdated but persistent messages I learned in childhood that my role as a woman is to serve others, put others first, and feel guilty if I want something for myself. I am learning to tolerate that guilt, realize it’s not that big a deal, and make an effort to do the stuff I enjoy anyway. I think I am a better friend and professional for it. And I am happier and actually have way more capacity if someone does need my help.

I asked my colleagues what they do for self-care. After a bit of laughter and embarrassment they shared what helps in their own daily lives. It’s a question I often ask the women I work with too. Below are some of their ideas:

“Try to do something nice for yourself every week”

“Watch a film that makes you laugh”

“Make plans to see a friend who makes you feel good about yourself”

“Do something you have never done before (e.g. take a new route to work; book yourself into a course you thought about but never had the guts to try”

“Have a bath with candles”

“Meditation”

“Yoga”

“Having a night out with friends, just having a laugh”

“Listening to music: A good tune I can stop and lose myself in”

“Taking a break by walking away from my desk and making a cuppa”

“In the evening I light up some candles, bring out the Pringles and watch Holby City back-to-back. Life don’t seem so stressful then!”

“When I’m not feeling too overwhelmed a brisk walk helps”

“Making the effort to stop work and go have lunch together, even ten minutes makes a difference!”

“Spending time with my child, especially beating her at board games ;)”

“Listening to the Quran before sleeping”

“Prayer is my way to take time out and connect spiritually… when the days are just relentless, those 5 minutes gives me time to reconnect, especially when I put my head onto the ground…”

“Playing with my cat”

“Going for walks and being around nature”

“Watching something funny on YouTube”

“Eating chocolate”

“Dancing to music I like”
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Her Stories art auction to raise vital funds for Solace

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Solace is delighted to be chosen as one of the three women’s charities to be supported by the Her Stories art auction on 23rd November 2017.

Her Stories is an art auction of works by contemporary female artists to raise money for three UK registered charities that provide services for some of the most vulnerable women in London and across the UK; Beyond the Streets, Solace Women’s Aid and Young Women’s Trust.

The amazing pieces are open to bids prior to the event. Find out more here 

Artists (selected by curator Juliette Desorgues) that have generously donated works to the appeal include Alicia Reyes McNamara, Eloise Hawser, Hannah Perry, Jala Wahid, Julie Verhoeven, Marie Jacotey, Mary Ramsden, Rebecca Ackroyd, Roxman Gatt, Zadie Xa. The works will be shown at an exhibition at Protein Studios in Shoreditch, London.

 

Hannah Philp, Chair of Her Stories said:
“The Her Stories appeal is about recognising the work of charities operating on our doorstep in London that provide life-changing services to the most vulnerable women. Her Stories brings together creative and accomplished women in support of other women who face challenges that would be impossible to overcome without the services currently provided by these vital yet underfunded charities.”.

 

Mary Mason, CEO Solace Women’s Aid, said:
“Women in London are experiencing violence and abuse right now. And while more and more are seeking help at Solace to build safe, strong lives, devastating cuts in government funding mean we are forced to turn people away. If we want to reach everyone living in fear of violence with our life-saving services, we can’t do it on our own. We need the local community to stand with us and that’s why we are so grateful to the artists and team behind ‘Her Stories’. Through this fantastic collaboration they are helping us create futures free from violence and abuse.”

Cycle for Solace

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Ride London for Solace!

We are excited to have Ride London places for the first time in 2018. Be part of the amazing cycle along the Olympic race route, through Surrey finishing outside Buckingham Palace. We will be there to cheer you, you will receive fundraising support, direct contact from Jessie at Solace and a lovely Solace technical top.

Entry: £40

Sponsorship: £475

Date: Sunday 29th July 2018

Can you cycle 100 miles in support of women and children survivors of domestic abuse? If so contact Jessie on fundraising@solacewomensaid.org to secure your place.

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