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Meet the people fighting to eradicate violence against women and girls across the UK

Written by Lauren Geall

As Stylist’s digital writer, Lauren Geall writes on topics including mental health, wellbeing and women’s issues. She’s also a big fan of houseplants and likes to dabble in film and TV from time-to-time. You can find her on Twitter at @laurenjanegeall.

Every day, frontline organisations are making a tangible difference in tackling violence against women and girls.

Across the world, a woman or girl is killed by an intimate partner or family member every 11 minutes. It’s a statistic that is hard to wrap your head around, but one that paints a horrifically accurate picture of the reality of violence against women and girls in countries all around the world.

Here in the UK, we’ve seen conversations about VAWG surge over the last couple of years, with the murder of Sarah Everard in 2021 bringing it to the fore. Following numerous campaigns – including Stylist’s A Fearless Future – the government has taken steps towards addressing the widespread problem, eventually publishing its long-awaited violence against women strategy in June 2021.  

However, the work being done on the UK streets to tackle VAWG plays just as important a role in addressing the issue. 

Across the UK there is a long list of organisations working to help those affected by violence at home and on the streets – whether in the form of sexual violence, human trafficking or domestic abuse – and while they may not get as much attention as the nationwide organisations, their commitment to supporting those affected by VAWG makes a real, tangible difference.

It’s for this reason that Rosa, the UK’s leading grant-making charity for women’s organisations, is using the money from its new fund to support the smaller organisations that are making a difference.

The Stand With Us fund, which was set up last year to utilise the fundraising efforts of the campaign group Reclaim These Streets and other individual donors in the wake of Sarah Everard’s murder, will see 25 organisations across the UK receive one-year grants of up to £25,000 to fund their work. 

At a time when it’s easy to feel helpless in the face of such a massive problem, these charities are a poignant reminder that local, grassroots groups can make a huge difference – and that ensuring they get the funding they need is incredibly important in the national and global fight to end VAWG.

So, to mark the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women today (25 November), we spoke to three people working behind the scenes at charities receiving funding from Stand With Us to find out more about their incredible work.

Minke van Til, co-director at Ella’s 

Minke van Til is the co-director at Ella’s.

Where are you based? London.

What is your organisation’s main area of focus? Ella’s works with women who have survived trafficking, sexual exploitation and other forms of violence. Our mission is to ensure that survivors have all they need to recover and build lives that are safe and free.

How many people work for your organisation? 13 (+ volunteers)

What work does your organisation do? We offer safe house accommodation for women when they are most vulnerable, specialist care to help them recover and move forward, and long-term community support to help survivors build safe, independent lives.

How will the Stand With Us funding help your work? The need for what we do is urgent and growing. For this reason, we are committed to expanding our work to reach more women. As we enter this next phase of our development, Rosa’s Stand With Us funding will enable us to become more survivor-led through the establishment of a new Survivor Advisory Board. In addition, it will help us to grow our supporter base and build new alliances for systemic change. Support from the Stand With Us fund will enable us to improve and grow our frontline services and our influence, to benefit more survivors and raise their voices more effectively to bring about real and lasting change.

Fahma Mohamed, project worker at Integrate UK

Fahma Mohamed is a project worker at Integrate UK.

Where are you based? We are Bristol-based but deliver workshops and talks nationally.

What is your organisation’s main area of focus? Addressing racial and gender inequality and all forms of VAWG. We also aim to support young people to achieve their full potential and provide real leadership opportunities.

How many people work for your organisation? We have seven staff and 35+ freelance outreach workers who deliver peer education workshops.

What work does your organisation do? We run creative and educational workshops that young people devise themselves; we support young people to establish youth-led equalities councils in their schools and colleges so they can make changes to policy and practice around issues such as sexual harassment and assault, racism and other issues they identify as having a negative impact on their lives.

How will the Stand With Us funding help your work? In so many ways! We have experienced a threefold increase in the number of young people we work with and the level and complexityof need has also increased, not least because of the cost of living crisis. The fund will allow us to recruit a fundraising and communications officer, increasing sustainability and visibility.In addition, the funding allows us to update our website and improve our monitoring and evaluation so we evidence impact more efficiently and easily.

Red Godfrey-Sagoo, CEO at Sophie Hayes Foundation

Red Godfrey-Sagoo is the CEO at Sophie Hayes Foundation.

Where are you based? We have three locations: London and the south, Birmingham and the Midlands, and Liverpool and the north.

What is your organisation’s main area of focus? Founded in 2011 by a British girl trafficked to Italy, the Foundation is the only independent organisation in the UK that solely focuses on helping survivors of human trafficking build confidence through coaching and skills development that leads to education, employment and independence, helping them to achieve sustainable freedom. Our mission is to reach the thousands of survivors of human trafficking in the UK today to shape a better future for themselves. ​We are committed to creating a society that views and treats these women with respect, leading to a better society for us all.​

How many people work for your organisation? 14, of which two are survivors of human trafficking and graduates of our employability programme

What work does your organisation do? Over 12 months we provide hybrid coaching and skills development programmes to remove barriers to freedom, including vocational work placements, internships, volunteer opportunities, training and formal education. ​

How will the Stand With Us funding help your work? We have been through a significant transformation, and the Rosa funding will provide critical funds to develop and empower our new leadership team, survivor staff and all staff to deliver and lead with confidence.

For support and advice, you can check out the End Violence Against Women Coalition’s website.

Images: Tom Price/Ella’s/Integrate UK/Sophie Hayes Foundation

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