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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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Solace Service User Survey Results

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We’re pleased to announce the results of our most recent service user survey, which were overwhelmingly positive; 98% of those who responded said they would recommend Solace to a friend or relative.

We carry out this survey every October, asking all our service users to fill out a questionnaire and also to tell us about areas of the support they received which were particularly useful or which needed improvement. This year 323 service users responded.

If it wasn’t for you I wouldn’t be safe with my children in the refuge. I would recommend your service to everyone in need. (Refuge Service User)

 

What we learned

  • We continue to have an excellent relationship with the women and children using our services. 96% rated their Solace service good or excellent, while 94% reported that Solace helped them feel more confident, and 89% said that Solace helped them take steps towards healthier relationships.
  • Staff skills are a particular strength of our services: 99% of service users said that their key worker was a good listener.
  • Some of our specialist services received came out particularly well. For example, the Silver Project for women over 55, and the Amari Project for women who have been sexually exploited through trafficking or prostitution, both received 100% satisfaction ratings from their users.
  • 86% of respondents said it was easy or very easy to get in touch with a Solace service, which while high is not as high as the satisfaction ratings for other criteria.
  • Many of our service users would like to be able to access support more quickly and for longer periods of time. Several also reported that more appointments being available outside normal working hours would help them keep work or family commitments.

 

I am so astonished by how far I’ve come in a relatively short space of time. My counsellor always provided me with an empathetic compassionate ear and invaluable insight. I feel I still have a way to go on my journey and I wish I could do that here but I know there are more women that need/deserve help and you can only offer a finite number of sessions. I will look back on this time as a crucial turning point and am so appreciative to have had the opportunity to get the support I have. I think what [Solace] does is fantastic and I hope at some point in the future I can help others in a similar situation. Thank you for everything.(Counselling Service User)

 

How we are using this information

  • Local services looked at data in service user and staff team meetings to ensure that we are improving service practice
  • Teams are creating a “you said, we did” mechanism so that service users can see how their feedback improves service delivery directly
  • It is informing our organisation wide review of Service User involvement that is taking place this year

Helena Doyle, Director of Operations at Solace said:

Feedback from our service users is crucial in letting us know if we get things right or not. We are here for our service users and to provide the best possible service that we can, so it is great to hear when we make a positive  impact but also really important to know how service users think we can do things better.

How you can help

Most of the improvements suggested by our service users related to the resources we have available; domestic and sexual violence in London has increased in recent years (Metropolitan Police, 2016), and so is the number of referrals we are taking. We would love to be able to offer support more quickly when someone makes contact with us, but to do that we need your help!

Volunteer Newsletter – July

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Volunteers week went really well this year. Volunteers attended the volunteers lunch, new volunteers were inducted and we attended the Supersized Summer 2017 Volunteering Fair with Volunteer Centre Camden & Islington.

In this months volunteer newsletter read about our NLRC Helpline acheivements and find out how you can apply for a volunteer position within this service.

Volunteer Newsletter July

Thank you

Volunteer Coordinator

Find out about our Volunteer: Jamie

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I first became interested in studying sexual violence while I was working towards my undergraduate degree, and by the time I was due to begin my postgraduate degree, knew without a doubt I couldn’t be content just sitting by and reading about sexual violence knowing what has been happening on a daily basis.

From my perspective, working with women who have been affected by sexual violence could be my way of helping to mitigate a system which is seemingly completely stacked against survivors, by providing if only a slight bit of comfort.

I began my search for a role last year and soon came across an advertisement for a helpline worker. I initially found the prospect of working on a crisis line quite daunting, and was nervous about applying for the role. However, I was elated when I was selected to begin training last October and have found such gratification from being in the role ever since then.

On the line, we field calls from survivors of all ages providing emotional support as well as counselling and advocacy within the service, where appropriate. Since beginning on the line in early January, I have had the immense pleasure of working with a team of absolutely brilliant women in the most supportive of environments making coming into the crisis center something I look forward to every week.

While it is true we take our share of what can sometimes be challenging calls, which are compounded by the seemingly endless barriers due to the current social and political climates. In the same token, I have consistently been left in awe by the sheer strength and perseverance I see from many of the women who call into the line.

If nothing else, working on the line has shown me just how incredible women are, whether it is the staff of North London Rape Crisis (NLRC) who all work tirelessly to provide support and care for survivors, or the survivors themselves who often display incredible courage and strength following unimaginable experiences.

I more often than not find myself leaving a shift not feeling defeated, but empowered. Empowered from working with a team of such dedicated women, and from speaking with women on the phone who are determined to overcome the obstacles which have been placed in front of them.

While it is certainly not always an easy role, I am immensely grateful for the experience I have gained since starting on the line, and absolutely look forward to continuing working with the wonderful women at Solace and NLRC.

Jamie W.R. – North London Rape Crisis Volunteer

Jamie was offered a position as a North London Rape Crisis Helpline Volunteer (NLRC) in January 2017 after successfully completing an OCN accredited training programme for ‘Professionals working in the Sexual Violence Sector’ at Level 3. In her role as helpline volunteer, Jamie has been providing emotional support over the phone to women and girls who have experienced sexual violence and relevant information to professionals.

Jamie has performed her role as helpline volunteer to the highest standards. I am particularly impressed by Jamie’s strong commitment to the services, her empathetic and truly approachable manner and her proactive attitude towards the ownership of tasks. Jamie has offered assistance to other volunteers when they require it which reflects the good relationships she has developed with helpline staff through her friendly manner. It has been an absolutely pleasure to supervise and work alongside Jamie as she is unfailingly enthusiastic and committed in combating injustice and gender inequality.

Laura Gomez – NLRC Helpline Coordinator

 

 

Run the London Marathon 2018 for Solace

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Date: April 22nd 2018
Registration Fee: £100
Sponsorship Minimum target: £2500

We are very excited to have a Virgin Money London Marathon place for 2018. The Virgin Money London Marathon is an amazing 26.2 mile route around London’s breathtaking views. Be a part of this historic event and join the 40,000 other runners taking part for different charities and causes.

Please apply for a place by sending your application form to Jessie at fundraising@solacewomensaid.org by Monday the 21st of August.

Or, let us know if you have your own place and would like to run for Solace!

How Solace will support you:
• We can provide fundraising support, materials and tips
• We will send you a breathable Solace running vest
• You will get cheers from the Solace cheering team on the day
• PLUS a special thank you in our e-newsletters

Challenge, Change, Celebrate! Youth Conference 2017

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CHALLENGE CHANGE CELEBRATE image

We are delighted to announce our Youth Conference 2017: Challenge, Change, Celebrate!

Monday 10 July 2017, 5.30-7.30pm, Islington Town Hall

Join us to celebrate the excellent work of Solace’s Children and Young People service who strive to end Violence Against Women and Girls.

We’ll be celebrating with live music, prizes, presentations, activities, incredible food and even better company-YOU!

Hear2Change is our new programme working with 11-25 year olds. These young people will be centre stage on the night; showcasing the project, improving awareness of Solace’s work and inviting the community to get involved in the future.

The conference will take place on Monday 10 July 2017, 5.30-7.30 pm at Islington Town Hall.

Come along to hear young people’s stories and learn more about Solace’s Children and Young People service.

Solace asks MP candidates in London to work to end violence against women & girls

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We’ve been contacting the MP candidates in constituencies across London telling them about domestic and sexual violence and asking them to pledge that, if elected, they will take action on this. Read the full letter below.

Will you work to end violence against women and girls (VAWG)?

We are writing to you as the leading specialist domestic and sexual violence charity which provides services to your constituents. In advance of the election on 8 June 2017 we would like to draw your attention to the scale of violence against women and girls in our community, and to ask you to pledge that if elected you will take action on this.

The scale of domestic and sexual violence

Solace Women’s Aid has provided support to over 11,000 survivors of domestic and sexual violence over the last year in London. 2 women a week are killed by a partner or ex-partner and over 85,000 women are raped each year in the UK.

As well as the human impact, which is felt by whole families, these crimes are very costly to our health service, our criminal justice system and to employers. We believe it is essential that whoever is elected MP for your constituency is knowledgeable about this and pledges to work to end violence against women and girls.

If elected as our local MP, will you:

  • Work to ensure that every woman and girl at risk, including the most marginalised, can get the support she needs, whether it be crisis accommodation, counselling for abuse that happened many years ago or legal advocacy and advice? In recent years, local, women-led support services have faced enormous financial pressure. It is essential that changes are made to the way they are funded if they are to survive, and to continue being a critical source of local expertise and training for those working in public services as well as providers of tailored support to women and girls in need.
  • Address the urgent issue of housing for women seeking safety from domestic and sexual abuse and other forms of VAWG? Housing is not only a practical need for women and children who have to flee domestic and other forms of violence but is integral to beginning to feel safe and being able to move forward with their lives. In London the current housing system is failing women and children fleeing abuse meaning women are forced to remain in an unsafe situation.
  • Work to ensure women with No Recourse to Public Funds (NRPF) have full access to support while their status is being determined? Many women who don’t have recourse to public funds are particularly vulnerable as leaving an abusive situation would likely make them destitute. It is essential that when fleeing abuse a safety net is in place so they can access the essential support and have the opportunity to determine their status.
  • Work to ensure that women’s rights are protected during Brexit negotiations? It is critical that the many advances in equality and human rights law which benefit women in the UK are protected. The Human Rights Act has been used, for example, to hold to account the police when they have failed families in domestic violence murder cases and trafficking.
  • Work to improve the way the criminal justice system handles crimes of violence against women? We need changes in law and policy around, for example, the use of victim-blaming sexual history evidence in our courts, and ensuring all women have access to legal aid and advocacy for as long as they need it.
  • Work to ensure that all public services, especially the health service, schools and the welfare system, play their part in tackling abuse? Considerable change is needed to ensure that health workers do not miss abuse; that welfare rules do not stigmatise abused women (such as the tax credits rape clause); that the asylum and immigration systems do not deter women from seeking protection; and that schools deliver the best possible Sex and Relationship Education.
  • Demonstrate open and clear local, public leadership on ending violence against women and girls? This matter needs everyone in public life to play a vocal part in naming abuse, prioritising solutions and changing attitudes.

Many thanks for your attention to these important questions and we look forward to hearing from you soon. We will share any answer we receive from you with our networks and on social media.

Yours Sincerely

Mary Mason, CEO, Solace Women’s Aid

Volunteer Newsletter – May

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Volunteers week will be taking place from 1st -7th June this year. Look out for our social media campaign #volunteersweek #solacevolunteers. In this months volunteer newsletter read about our Advice line and find out how you can apply for a volunteer position on our Advice Hub. Read our newsletter on the link below.

Volunteer Newsletter May

Thank you
Volunteer Coordinator

Find out about our Volunteer: Eazmin

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My name is Eazmin Choudhury. I started volunteering for Solace Women’s Aid Advice line in November 2016. I combined this experience with volunteering as a support worker in another organisation. I gained substantial experience and knowledge around Domestic Violence and supporting victims of crime through the training opportunities both organisations offered their volunteers.
Before volunteering at Solace I was a SEN Teaching Assistant supporting children within a school setting. I supported children to overcome barriers to education. Having left the school environment, I always knew that I enjoy working with children and I want to always be in a supporting role.
With the support of my manager, Asalet, I learnt a lot on the Advice line. I was given responsibility and trusted, which gave me the confidence to perform well. The Volunteer Coordinator,  delivered insightful training sessions that allowed me to enhance my performance when taking calls on the Advice line.
I highly recommend volunteering for the Advice team as I learnt so much within such a short amount of time. I met amazing people during my time at Head office, who were really supportive. Having volunteered for Solace for four months, I am now a Family Support Worker at Solace. I would like to thank Solace for looking after their volunteers as it is amazing to see an organisation which celebrates the qualities and achievements of each and every volunteer.

Eazmin Choudhury – Advice Line Volunteer

Eazmin was volunteering at Solace Women’s Aid, Advice line and assisting the team by answering the calls coming to the line, processing agency referrals and self-referrals from SUs. Advice team provides vital services in London with a primary focus on supporting women and children affected by VAWG.

Eazmin’s role included providing advice and support to professionals and SUs.

Eazmin was a quick learner and she has achieved a great deal in a short time of period. She has shown great team work with her interpersonal, communication skills and she settled well in the team. She became a valued member of the team as a volunteer who was always very supportive of the other team members.

With her hard work and openness to feedback, Eazmin used her volunteering experience to improve her practice, gain knowledge and experience in the field. We are very glad for her and also proud of her when she told us she has been offered a family support worker paid role at Solace. I am pleased that her volunteering experience contributed to her success in getting into full time employment.

Asâlet Tulaz (DAPA/ISVA) – Advice Service Manager

Solace welcomes Mayor’s commitment to prioritise tackling shocking levels of domestic and sexual abuse in London

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Solace welcomes Mayor’s commitment to prioritise tackling violence against women & girls in London as shocking level of domestic and sexual crimes approaches 95,000 in 2016

 

Over 74,000 domestic crimes, 6000 rapes and 11,000 other sexual offences were recorded by police in London in 2016 and it is estimated only a small proportion are reported to police.  The new plan from the Mayor’s Office for Police & Crime aims to combat these horrific rates of domestic and sexual violence in the capital. Solace welcomes this pledge, including the focus on improving responses to those who report to the Police and seek justice through the Criminal Justice Service and the commitment to continue funding vital Rape Crisis London services.

 

Many survivors, the large majority of whom are women and girls, do not report violence and abuse for reasons including fear and shame and concerns about the impact on those around them. Whether a woman decides to report violence and abuse or not, it is essential that she has the option to access to specialist support such as counselling, which Solace and the Rape Crisis London organisations provide.

 

Mary Mason, CEO of Solace Women’s Aid says:

We are pleased that Sadiq Khan and his office recognise just how important our services are, not only to help women through the criminal justice system if they choose that route, but also to help women recover from horrendous trauma. Solace has supported over 11,000 survivors in London this past year alone, but as we face more and more survivors reaching out, budget cuts, and insecure funding, our services are stretched far beyond capacity. We hope that the Mayor’s commitment to survivors in London leads to secure, long-term provision of Rape Crisis London and other life-saving services, so no one is turned away.

Happy International Women’s Day!

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We’d like to wish everyone a Happy International Women’s Day!

We know that women and children in London wouldn’t be able to access life-saving support if it wasn’t for our incredible supporters – whether that’s by coming along to an event, making a donation, volunteering your time or helping us raise awareness. There is still more to be done, still more women and children living in fear for their lives. At Solace we are dedicated to ensuring everyone in London has the support they need to live free from abuse – and with continued support we can make this happen!

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