We've partnered with the amazing charity, Women's Aid, on our 'Great' t-shirt, with 20% of total sales going straight to the charity. We're supporting their incredible work to help end domestic abuse against women and children across the UK. We caught up with the charity to find out a bit more about what they do and how partnerships like the Great Plains t-shirt really help.
Tell us a bit about what Women's Aid do.
Women’s Aid is the national charity working to end domestic abuse against women and children. Founded in 1974, we are a federation of over 180 organisations which provide just under 300 local lifesaving services to women and children across the country. We are an organisation for, and led by, women. We ensure that survivors are at the heart of everything that we do, and we work for them in numerous ways.
Why are charities such as Women's Aid so important?
Domestic abuse is at epidemic levels in the UK, and it is not going away. Last year, an estimated 1.3 million women experienced domestic abuse. Domestic abuse represents a fundamental threat to the rights of women and children who experience it.
Women’s Aid works to revolutionise responses to domestic abuse, empowers women to have their voices heard, and campaigns for change to ensure that every survivor of domestic abuse is able to access the support she needs and deserves in order to lead a life free from abuse.
What is Women's Aid hoping to see for women in the next 3-5 years? What changes and impacts are you hoping to make?
To put it simply, our aim is to empower and raise the status of women to a point where violence against women and girls is no longer tolerated or legitimised. We will do this through empowering communities to be better placed to respond to domestic abuse, and through campaigning and lobbying for a better society for women and girls, that has policies in place to protect survivors and prevents domestic abuse through education and awareness.
We are planning for a future where all survivors get the right response to domestic abuse the first time they reach out, whoever they turn to and wherever they are. We will achieve this through our ‘Change that Lasts’ model that we are embedding across the UK in communities, workplaces and services.We know that survivors of domestic abuse are likely to confide in people they know or trust, friends, family and people in the community which is why our ‘Ask Me’ scheme makes ‘Community Ambassadors’ out of ordinary people, equipping them with an understanding of domestic abuse and how to respond to survivors confiding in them. Alongside this, we train ‘Trusted Professionals’, practitioners working in the public and voluntary sectors who are likely to be in contact with survivors of domestic abuse, to ensure that they can build on the trusting relationship already established and recognise any signs of abuse at an early stage.
We will continue to campaign for a better society for women and girls. This year the Domestic Abuse Bill is a landmark opportunity to change the response to survivors of domestic abuse. During the consultation period for this bill, Women’s Aid led the sector response – actively campaigning to ensure that the Bill had survivors at its heart. The draft Bill, published earlier this year, consisted of nine new measures, two of which were included as a specific result of our campaigning work.
Whilst we welcome the Domestic Abuse Bill, we continue to campaign for the legislation to deliver the reforms survivors need to see – across health, housing, welfare and immigration.
What can our audience do to help support Women's Aid on a day to day basis?
You can support Women’s Aid by becoming a Women’s Aid Campaign Champion and support our national campaigns on a local level, to help ensure that politicians and other key decision makers are listening. This could range from signing a petition or sending a tweet, to setting up a local meeting to raise awareness or attending a national event. We can give you all the information, resources and materials that you might need – visit our website by clicking here.
You can also donate to Women’s Aid online, or set up a regular donation to ensure that we are able to be here for survivors now and in the future. Alternatively, you could take on challenge to raise funds for us; marathons, hike a mountain, sky-dives – whatever you fancy! Our dedicated fundraising team can support you all the way.
What's your biggest piece of advice for anyone who is worried about a friend or family member?
The chances are high that you may know a sister, mum, colleague, cousin or friend who is experiencing abuse behind closed doors.
Unless you are trying to help someone who has been very open about her experiences it may be difficult for you to acknowledge the problem directly. The most important thing is to let her know that you are there to listen to her without judgement, and will support her however she needs.
Tell her about the National Domestic Violence Helpline (run in partnership between Women’s Aid and Refuge) on 0808 2000 247. Trained support workers are at the end of the phone to give advice no matter what the question. For example, they can offer advice on recognising abuse, recovery from long-term trauma and act as a gateway to hundreds of local refuge services. You can also direct her to the Survivor’s Forum on the Women’s Aid website. The Survivors’ Forum is a unique, online platform where women can access peer-to-peer support from others with shared experiences. The forum hosts discussion on a huge variety of topics, from initial concerns to sharing positive moments of life after abuse.
There is more advice on what to do if you’re worried about someone experiencing domestic abuse on the Women’s Aid website. Click here.
How do campaigns such as the Great Plains t-shirt help Women's Aid?
With the support of campaigns such as the Great Plains t-shirt, we can reach more women and children with our life-saving services. We can spread our training further so more agencies and professionals know how to respond to domestic abuse appropriately, we can use technology to create new and easier ways for women to get the help they need, we can continue to campaign and lobby the government to create stronger legal frameworks and protection for survivors, and we can work with girls and young women to create a future where domestic abuse is not tolerated.
Not only that, but we can continue to raise awareness of domestic abuse. We can ensure that all women know who to turn to if they need support and can be reassured that they will get the help that they need, whenever they need it.