Refuge announces Survivor Ambassadors

 
Refuge announces Survivor Ambassadors to mark 50th year, empowering women and children to live a life free from domestic abuse.

As Refuge marks its 50th Anniversary, reflecting on half a century of supporting women and children against domestic abuse, and providing lifesaving and lifechanging services, Refuge is proud to announce newly appointed survivor ambassadors.

Survivors are at the heart of Refuge’s work, inspiring and courageous individuals who have lived experience of domestic abuse and work alongside Refuge to implement much-needed change and raise awareness of the biggest social issue impacting women and children today; violence against women and girls (VAWG.)

During 16 Days of activism against gender-based violence, which started on the 25th November – International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, and runs until 10th December- Human Rights Day, Refuge is sharing the stories of survivors who have been supported by its services and as Refuge marks a mile-stone 50th anniversary year, the charity seeks to shine a light on survivors’ voices and ensure their stories are amplified and heard. Without the tireless campaigning of survivors, vital changes to the way society responds to domestic abuse may not have been achievable.

Hetti Barkworth-Nanton, Chair of Refuge’s board of trustees said:

“Refuge is proud to place survivor voices at the heart of our work. Throughout 2021 we have all seen violence against women and girls become higher on the public and political agenda. Every day, we hear horrific stories of domestic abuse and murder; the statistics sadly speak for themselves: two women a week are killed by their current or former partners, one in four women will be impacted by domestic abuse in their lifetime. Enough is enough.

Although significant gains have been made over the last 50 years, there is still much work to do, and Refuge will continue campaigning until all women are able to live free from abuse. Our service and survivor informed campaigning is what has secured changes that will help ensure millions of women are able to access support and live free from abuse, and I am absolutely delighted that today Refuge is able to recognise the work of these incredible people, without whom Refuge would not be the organisation it is today. Using their voice comes at a huge personal sacrifice to them, but their bravery in sharing their own stories has been fundamental to change and it is absolutely right that we recognise their contribution in this way.”

The newly appointed survivor ambassadors are:

  • Amy Aldworth
  • Erica Osakwe
  • Hollie Woolford
  • Melanie Clarke
  • Melony and Hayden Slack
  • Natasha Saunders

Amy Aldworth, is a campaigner against tech abuse and a survivor of tech facilitated stalking, Amy has worked with Refuge over the past year, supporting on campaigns raising awareness of Refuge’s Tech Safety website and specialist Tech Abuse service – the only one of its kind in the UK. Amy most recently shared her personal story of experiencing tech abuse around the launch of Refuge’s 50th anniversary tech abuse campaign, a partnership with ad agency BBH which explained that 50 years on domestic abuse is getting smarter and Refuge’s job is getting harder.

Watch the advert here.

Amy Aldworth, said:

“As a survivor of domestic stalking my hope is that every woman and every child can be free of domestic abuse and violence. I am honoured to be working with Refuge as an ambassador to raise awareness and campaign for change.”

Erica Osakwe, recently worked with Refuge to campaign for an amendment to be made to the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill to protect victims being ‘timed out’ of accessing justice when reporting Common Assault. This amendment would extend the period that survivors of abuse have to report common assault. Erica has recently set up her own charity, Victims Too and was announced as the winner of Marie Claire Future Shapers 2021 ‘Women’s Rights Champion’ which Refuge were thrilled to nominate her for.

Erica Osakwe, said:

“I am incredibly grateful to be asked by Refuge to stand alongside so many inspiring individuals as an ambassador. Having worked alongside Refuge already to campaign for change, I am excited and determined to continue the work that is necessary to help ensure the safety of woman and girls across the country”

Hollie Woolford has supported Refuge for nearly eight years working with Refuge’s communications and policy teams on a number of campaigns.

Hollie Woolford, said:

“Domestic Abuse could have taken my life. Today, I’m still here thanks to Refuge’s work and support. I want to make sure as many women as possible know about Refuge’s lifesaving and life changing services and how to access support.”

Melanie Clarke has been working with Refuge for nearly a decade, Melanie was heavily involved in Refuge’s ‘Grow’ video a music video created in partnership with singer songwriter Frances which featured an animation of a young woman experiencing domestic abuse, which was based on Melanie’s experiences of physical and psychological abuse.

Melanie Clarke, said:

“After years of abuse, I understand how survivors feel, which is why I think I connect well with women. Helping women to find their light again from something so dark is a beautiful thing. On my journey of raising awareness, I have learnt we have nothing to be ashamed of, speaking out not only brings inner peace but saves lives.”

Melony and Hayden Slack have been incredible spokespeople for Refuge over a number of years, raising awareness through talking about the deaths of Hayden’s sister Rachael and nephew Auden.

Melony and Hayden Slack, said:

“We have worked with and been supported by Refuge since Hayden’s sister Rachael and her toddler son Auden were killed by her ex-partner in 2010. We were horrified to learn that two women a week are killed by a current or ex-partner (*in England and Wales *) which means that over a thousand more women have lost their lives to domestic violence since Rachael and Auden were killed. We are honoured to have been given this opportunity to speak out on Rachael’s behalf and to help ensure other women in her situation can access the vital support services that Refuge offers. ”

Natasha Saunders has supported Refuge for the past two years, most recently working on Refuge’s successful ‘The Naked Threat campaign’, sharing her experiences which helped implement necessary change to the Domestic Abuse Bill earlier this year. The Naked Threat Campaign changed the law to make threatening to share intimate images a crime.

Hear more from Natasha  in this video.

Natasha Saunders said:

“I’m working with Refuge to be the voice for victims and survivors of domestic abuse. When two women a week die at the hands of their abuser, I feel it is my job to speak the words they didn’t have the chance to. With awareness and education, we can make positive change”

Find out more about Refuge’s survivor ambassadors on our website.

 

ENDS.

Images and assets available here.

For more information or to arrange an interview contact the press office on email press@refuge.org.uk 

About Refuge:

Refuge supports thousands of women and children on any given day, and runs the National Domestic Abuse Helpline, which is the gateway to accessing specialist support across the country. More than one in four women in England and Wales experiences domestic abuse at some point in their lifetime, and two women a week are killed by a current or former partner.

Please signpost to Refuge’s National Domestic Abuse Helpline 0808 2000 247, available 24 hours a day 7 days a week for free, confidential specialist support. Or visit www.nationaldahelpline.org.uk to fill in a webform and request a safe time to be contacted or to access live chat (live chat available 3pm-10pm, Monday to Friday). For support with tech abuse visit refugetechsafety.org