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Latest News

Holistic, tailored support pays off in recovery from domestic and sexual violence

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Domestic and sexual violence services join forces in partnership covering every London borough, providing approximately £6 social return for every £1 invested in life-saving services, new research from Solace Women’s Aid shows.


A new report published today evidences the efficiency and quality of services provided by the Ascent Advice & Counselling (A&C) partnership, which supports women and girls across London who have been affected by all forms of violence and abuse. Between 2013 and 2015 the Partnership helped a staggering 24,206 women to improve their safety, better manage their mental health, reduce medication, increase self-esteem and confidence and improve their relationship with children and family. While catastrophic funding cuts persist at a local level as budgets are slashed, protecting these ring-fenced funds across-London is an absolute priority to ensure the Partnerships life-saving work continues.

One vulnerable woman explains,Once I approached the Ascent partner I started to understand about my options and my rights. This took me and my son out of the homelessness and destitution state I was in. Without the Ascent partner I would have been lost. Without them I would probably have committed suicide. Everything that has happened to me has been thanks to the great support and help I have received from them.’


The size and scope of the Partnership, which comprises 14 organisations and covers all 33 boroughs in London, enables more women to be able to receive vital, consistent, high-quality services which might otherwise be inaccessible. Women are able to get the support they want and need, regardless of where they live, so it’s no longer a “postcode lottery” when it comes to escaping and recovering from abuse. Of the 24,206 women and girls the Partnership supported, 77% were from BME groups. This indicates the success of the partnership in supporting specific hard to reach communities. The experience and expertise of the partner organisations means they understand what is needed to support women on the journey from abuse to recovery. Mary Mason, CEO of Solace Women’s Aid, lead partner for Ascent A&C, explains that ‘every woman who asks us for help has experienced horrific abuse but every woman’s experience is unique. Recovery is not a linear, one-way street so it’s vital that we deliver holistic and tailored support to reflect survivors’ individual experiences’.

Moving on from abuse can involve a complex web of activity including safety planning, advice, help with housing, group support, legal advocacy, emergency accommodation, counselling and language or culturally specific support. Often a combination of these services, which a woman can dip in and out of, is essential to help rebuild her life free from violence.

Sioned Churchill, Trust for London says ‘Building up robust evidence about the value of specialist advice and support for women who are experiencing domestic violence, has been a real challenge for many years.  The first priority will always be to offer that support to ensure women’s safety, but this report also shows the importance of taking time out to capture the difference the work has made in a consistent way. As a result, there is now strong evidence about the huge impact of the Ascent partnership’s work, and the enormous benefit this brings to the women themselves, as well as society as a whole. It also highlights the value of directing our financial resources to where they will make the most difference to women’s lives’.

The Ascent A&C partnership’s ‘model of excellence’ is evidenced via external evaluation using Social Return on Investment (SROI) methodology. The executive summary and the full impact report is available to download at here: www.solacewomensaid.org/social-impact-2015

Solace responds to claims that The Met are failing survivors of domestic abuse

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In response to accusations that The Metropolitan Police is failing survivors of domestic abuse (Evening Standard, 26th August 2015), Solace Women’s Aid welcomes recommendations of more specialist training for frontline officers, but highlights the importance of specialist services, like those provided by Solace, and the lack of funding to provide consistent support to survivors to enable them to live their lives free from abuse. Solace has been securing a safer future for survivors of domestic and sexual abuse in London for 40 years, supporting over 10,000 women and children a year and invites Dame Tessa, or any other London mayoral candidate, to discuss how best to support the growing number of abuse survivors in the capital.

Mary Mason, CEO of Solace Women’s Aid comments ‘while Solace continues to welcomes referrals to provide survivors with specialist, often long-term, holistic support which is needed to recover from abuse, we already face an exceptionally challenging and unsustainable environment with increasing numbers of domestic and sexual offences in London combined with continual government funding cuts.’

In the dialog around domestic and sexual violence and ultimately the support provided, Solace stresses the focus should be on the long term safety of survivors. Many people think that removing women and children from the immediate control of an abusive man solves the problem of domestic and sexual abuse. Solace knows this is often only the first step for many survivors. Their recent research, ‘Finding the Cost of Freedom’, indicated that over 90% experienced post-separation abuse, and that there is a critical need for specialist support for women and children in the period after leaving an abusive situation. We offer vital on-going support that is tailored to individual need to help survivors build safe, independent lives free from abuse.

“Let’s talk about it”: North London Rape Crisis launches new freephone helpline

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“Let’s talk about it”: Our North London Rape Crisis service launches new freephone helpline, to provide life-saving emotional support to survivors of sexual violence and abuse, in a critical climate of unprecedented demand for services and insecure funding.

 With essential funds provided by the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC), the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) and the Home Office, we are launching the North London Rape Crisis (NLRC) freephone helpline to provide a safe, non-judgmental, confidential space for an ever increasing number of women and girls who are desperately seeking help to recover from sexual violence and abuse.

To mark the launch of the new freephone helpline, NLRC are launching a campaign, featuring Solace volunteers and supporters, to help challenge some of the myths surrounding sexual violence and break down the barriers to picking up the phone and getting crucial emotional support. Help spread the word on Twitter by tweeting: #Solace40 is here to listen. New Freephone North London Rape Crisis helpline 0808 801 0305. Challenge myths. Break barriers #letstalkaboutit


The anonymous listening service is available to women and girls aged 13+ who have experienced any form of sexual violence (including child sexual abuse, rape, sexual assault, sexual exploitation, prostitution and female genital mutilation) at any time: recent or non-recent, whether they are already receiving support, awaiting counselling, or speaking out for the first time and irrespective of if they want to report the crime or not.

As the number of rape and sexual abuse cases reported in London soars by nearly 30% (*Metropolitan police 2015) and mounting media coverage of sexual abuse atrocities hits the headlines it is not surprising that more women are coming forward. Solace is increasingly inundated with requests for help and has seen a 40% increase in referrals. Emily Robertson, our NLRC service manager explains that “with insecure and stretched funding, we struggle to meet the needs of all those seeking support in dealing with the devastating impacts of rape and sexual abuse. The new helpline is a vital service offering in-depth emotional support that really could be the difference between life and death.”

But with no end in sight for the influx of women and girls seeking support, fears are escalating over availability of services for courageous survivors who come forward. One service user sums up the impact that NLRC has had for her, “I would not be here, alive today if it wasn’t for the North London Rape Crisis Service”But, like many other Rape Crisis centres across the UK, NLRC has no secure funding from the government after March 2016. Unless this is resolved urgently NLRC will face closure and vital support would be withdrawn from thousands of survivors.

Freephone Helpline 0808 801 0305

Find out more about the North London Rape Crisis service

Solace’s flagship event Rock Against Violence 2015 tickets on sale now!

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Rock Against Violence 2015

Thursday 12th November at the O2 Academy in Islington.

Sounds of Solace is proud to announce their flagship music event is back for a fourth year running, showcasing up and coming and semi-professional musicians. Rock Against Violence 2015 will raise vital funds for Solace during its 40th Anniversary year so more women and children can get life-changing support after domestic or sexual abuse.

RAV 2015 tickets on sale now

This year Rock Against Violence 2015 will take place on Thursday 12th November 2015, back at the O2 Academy in Islington. Doors will open at 6:30pm. The first act will kick off the night at 7pm followed by several others. The night will include a silent auction and a raffle, before the closing at 11pm. For full event details and the exciting line-up check out the RAV 2015 website.

Tickets are now on sale. Get your ticket today at Eventbrite



Solace crowdfunds for awe-inspiring video showing journey from abuse to recovery

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Solace launches crowdfunding appeal with The Big Give to produce awe-inspiring video that will convey just how Solace helps survivors of domestic or sexual violence on their journey to recovery. This will give survivors a voice and demonstrate how they were able to recover and rebuild their lives free from abuse. Solace will use the video to secure an extra £40K a year plus other help and support, ensuring Solace can continue to provide vital services to survivors of domestic and sexual abuse.


Many people think that removing women and children from the immediate control of an abusive man solves the problem of domestic and sexual abuse. Solace knows this is often only the first step for many survivors. Our recent research indicated that over 90% experienced post-separation abuse, and that there is a critical need for specialist support for women and children in the period after leaving an abusive situation.


We offer survivors vital on-going support that is tailored to individual need, listening to and believing every woman or child who asks for help. This is highly effective in helping them to recover and rebuild their lives. However, to provide this level of support we need to convince donors and funders of the positive impact of providing our services, however long it takes to help survivors build independent lives free from abuse. The video will tell our service users stories to help us do this.


To find out more and donate to our appeal visit our page at the Big Give




North London Rape Crisis launches Friends and Family Counselling Service

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North London Rape Crisis (NLRC) now offers free short-term Counselling for Family, Friends & Partners of female survivors of sexual violence. Many supporters struggle with distressing feelings of upset, shock, grief, feel overwhelmed or have intimacy issues. Counselling can support supporters work through their thoughts and feelings about what has happened to a person that they care about.


The new counselling service is available to supportive friends and family members (including supportive make partners) of a female survivor of any form of sexual violence. The supporter must live, work or study in one of our seven boroughs including Barnet, Camden, Enfield, Haringey, Islington, Kensington & Chelsea and Westminster.


Counselling is a talking therapy, based on regular weekly sessions with a counsellor in a safe and confidential place and provides a unique experience that focuses entirely upon the individual giving them the opportunity to explore their feelings.  We offer 6 sessions of short-term therapy, which take place on a Friday daytime in Islington and childcare and Interpreters are available on request.


Why have Friends & Family counselling?

  • To talk to someone who doesn’t know you personally and who is not going to judge.
  • You might feel disbelief when you first hear about the assault, you might feel surprised, shocked or numb.
  • You might feel anger for a number of reasons; towards yourself for not being able to protect the survivor; towards the perpetrator or towards the survivor.
  • You might feel guilt because you could not prevent the assault from happening or that the survivor did not feel comfortable to tell you about the assault right away.
  • You may feel anxious about responding the’ right’ way or worried about how this event will impact your relationship with the survivor.
  • People come to Counselling for all of the above reasons and many more. Whatever your reason it will be valued by the counselling service.


To find out more about the new Friends and Family Counselling Service contact:

North London Rape Crisis Helpline 0207 619 1369

10.00 – 14.00 Monday

10.00 – 13.00 Tuesday

13.00 – 17.00 Wednesday & Thursday

10.00 – 14.00 Friday




Over 90% of service users feel safer and more confident

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In the 40th year of securing a safer future Solace is pleased to announce the most recent service user survey results, with 95% of service users who took part rating the service as good or excellent, helping them to feel more confident and safe.


Solace is committed to women and children having a central voice within the organisation in order to be able to provide continuously improving services. Each year Solace Women’s Aid conducts an annual service user survey across all its services. Over the period of four weeks, all service users are asked to complete a standardised questionnaire relevant to the service they are using at that time. Some key results from the survey include:


98% would recommend Solace to a friend or relative

‘Solace has been brilliant and been my life line.’ Solace Service User, Advocacy

99% said their key worker was easy to talk to

‘Solace understand the issues and believe the client. It’s very empowering because before I didn’t have a voice.’ Solace Service User, Advocacy

90% reported that Solace helped them feel safer

This year there was a significant increase (42%) in the number of responses so a huge thank you is extended to all those that made it possible and the service users that took the time to complete the survey.

‘The domestic violence workshop has been great, I am more alert now on signs of Domestic Violence’ Solace Service User, Advice

95% said Solace helped them feel more confident

‘I thank Solace for everything. I feel I am a changed person. I have started to feel positive about life. Thank you!’ Solace Service User, North London Rape Crisis


This year there was a significant increase (42%) in the number of responses so a huge thank you is extended to all those that made it possible and the service users that took the time to complete the survey. We are extremely pleased with such positive feedback from our Service Users who’s views are pivotal to the organisation and allow us to continually improve our services at Solace.



Celebrating 40 years of securing a safer future

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Solace Women’s Aid celebrates supporting 60,000 women and children in London over 40 years, with an urgent new appeal.

Solace Women’s Aid is celebrating its 40th year by launching an appeal to continue its life-changing work during a time of unprecedented demand for its services and cuts in public funding.

Since the beginning Solace Women’s Aid has grown considerably and has helped over 60,000 survivors of domestic and sexual abuse to rebuild their lives. They provide a holistic range of specialist services across London, including refuges, advice & advocacy, counselling, support groups and family & children’s projects.

Demand for their services continues to grow at an alarming rate. Mary Mason, CEO comments “As domestic and sexual violence is discussed more and more in the media we’ve seen a huge increase in the number of survivors who feel more confident in coming forward, disclosing their own experiences and seeking support. All this in a climate of significant funding cuts

Despite the challenges in the sector, more volunteers than ever are being trained on Solace Women’s Aid’s helplines and additional staff are being recruited to provide one-to-one counselling, group therapy and specialist legal advice. But there is a lot more they need to do to secure a safer future for women, hence the 40 year appeal.

The organisation is asking for a £40 donation from organisations, groups and individuals concerned or affected by domestic or sexual violence. This donation could, for example, provide two counselling sessions, three children’s play therapy sessions, one legal consultation or an hour of helpline advice.

The charity recognises that breaking free from domestic violence or escaping sexual abuse is only the start. This is why they not only provide practical advice and a safe space to live, but also help women and children recover emotionally and build a future free from abuse.

It doesn’t happen overnight and takes courage and determination but, with Solace’s help and the success of their new appeal, service users will continue to be able to develop the confidence and independence they need to rebuild their lives free from abuse.

One Solace service users sums it up “Your bruises go away and your bones mend. But it’s the despair, being hopeless. It’s a very dark place to be. Solace has given me hope.”

Visit www.solacewomensaid.org.uk/40years to make a real difference to the lives of women and children who have survived domestic and sexual violence. You can also spread the word by tweeting ‘Secure a safer future’ using @solacewomensaid and hashtag: #solace40


For further information please call Karen Ruskin on 020 7619 1350 or email: Karen Ruskin: k.ruskin@solacewomensaid.org / Alex Siepel: a.siepel@solacewomensaid.org

Find out more about our 40 year history

Download our 40 years of SWA press release


Improving safety for women

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Set up in Enfield in summer 2013, the Identification and Referral to Improve Safety (IRIS) service has been training clinical and non-clinical medical staff in recognising and using a clear referral path for dealing with domestic violence.

This work has proven extremely useful to GPs, and we are looking forward to continuing this training.  So far, Solace Women’s Aid has worked with the Enfield clinical lead on the project to deliver training to 26 different practice teams in east part of the borough.

In February 2014, the National Institute for Care and Health Excellence (NICE) published its most recent public health guidance, which included the recommendation that GP practices and other agencies should provide staff with training on, and a referral pathway for, domestic violence and abuse.  Our IRIS training meets the NICE recommendations, with Level 1 training for receptionists and Level 2 training for primary care clinical teams.

We hope our continued work in this area will help improve organisational responses to domestic violence and abuse.

Making a difference with Ascent

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As the lead partner for the Ascent* Advice and Counselling strand, Solace Women’s Aid is proud to share some of the work we have accomplished in the first year of this project.


Leading a partnership of 14 organisations, we set-up and delivered a range of advice and counselling services across every London borough.  Services are delivered in a range of languages, and two advice hubs are now up and running.


In the past year, with our partners, we have supported more than 10,000 new service users across London, providing more than 10,000 one-to-one counselling sessions and more than 1,000 group counselling sessions. We have provided one-to-one advice to over 8,000 service users and have provided financial assistance to 37 women with no recourse to public funds to enable them to access vital services.  Read All »