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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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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.

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!

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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

 

Wednesday 29th June – COMEDY VIRGINS at THE CAVENDISH ARMS

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)

 

Sunday 3rd July – BREAD AND ROSES THEATRE, CLAPHAM
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)

 

Remarkable Volunteers Who Run The North London Rape Crisis

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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 welcomes Helen Hughes as new Chair of Trustees

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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.

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Mary Mason, CEO, said:

“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

Folk Against Violence music event on 4 May to benefit Solace Women’s Aid

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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)

Tickets: fav2016.eventbrite.co.UK.

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The price of safety: housing system failing survivors of domestic abuse

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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.

The full report and our recommendations are available HERE

Shena’s* Story

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.

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