Patrons and Ambassadors
We are fortunate to have some fantastic Patrons and Ambassadors who give their valuable time and energy into promoting the work of Women’s Aid.
Spice Girl and survivor Melanie Brown is our newest patron, joining us on 25th November 2018 – the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. Melanie opened up her devastating experience of coercive and controlling behaviour in her memoir Brutally Honest.
On accepting the role she said, “I am not just honoured but I am deeply humbled by the support I have received from Women’s Aid. This means more to me than anyone can imagine. As women we really do need to have each other’s backs, stand together and raise our voices as loud as we can so we can all be heard. I hope as a Patron I can be there for other women, and I will shout from the rooftops to raise awareness for this cause, which affects all of us.”
Julie Walters, the award winning actor and writer, became a Women’s Aid patron in 2004 in support of our 30th Birthday year activities. Recently Julie has voiced our Radio 4 Invisible Prison appeal in February 2015 and in May 2015, supported our Give me Shelter campaign with the Sun newspaper.
Julie says about the Give me Shelter campaign:
“Refuges save lives; it really is as simple as that. With an average of 2 women a week being killed by a partner or ex-partner in England and Wales, it is crucial that the 32 refuges that have been closed since 2010 are reopened. Refuges provide a safe space for women and their children fleeing domestic violence – a safe space that can be the difference between life and death.”
Rachel Khoo is a multi-talented bon vivant breathing fresh air, colourful flair and the practiced skills of a chef onto the world stage – and, into the kitchens and living rooms of home cooks internationally. As an esteemed TV producer, presenter, podcast broadcaster, food writer, best-selling cookbook author – of six books, translated into fourteen languages – and a global culinary consultant, this whisk-wielding, innovative gourmet demonstrates her gastronomic prowess while wearing many hats.
“I am honoured to announce that I will be working with national domestic abuse charity, Women’s Aid, as their newest Ambassador. Women’s Aid do such vital work in supporting and advocating for women and children in England, who are in the most vulnerable situations and I happy to be able to add my voice to those speaking out against domestic abuse. I very much look forward to adding my support to Women’s Aid and their lifesaving work.”
Toby-Alexander Smith, Ambassador
Actor, Toby-Alexander Smith, joined Women’s Aid in September 2020 as a charity ambassador. Viewers have watched his character, Gray Atkins, in EastEnders, abuse his on-screen wife Chantelle in the BBC TV soap opera.
We are delighted to welcome Toby as a charity ambassador in recognition of his ongoing commitment to support our work and to raise awareness of domestic abuse and healthy relationships.
Toby-Alexander Smith said:
“Taking on the role of Gray Atkins in EastEnders felt like a huge responsibility given how much awareness of domestic abuse it could raise. EastEnders has a history of tackling important issues on screen and I knew as an actor it was important for me to get this storyline right. Women’s Aid has been a vital source of my research in understanding the complexity of a perpetrator’s manipulative and controlling behaviour. I was appalled at the statistics of how many survivors are out there suffering at the hands of their abuser. There is still clearly a lack of education in our society that any form of abuse is unacceptable and this has to change. Women’s Aid life-saving work has inspired me to do more. We need to call out the perpetrators and let them know that their seemingly invisible crime, is in fact, visible to us. I am proud to become an Ambassador and will stand up and support survivors of abuse wherever and whenever I can.”
Charlie Webster, Ambassador
Radio and television broadcaster Charlie Webster joined Women’s Aid as an Ambassador in 2010 when she ran the marathon for us. Since then she has worked closely with Women’s Aid to raise both awareness and funds. She is also an advisor to the Ministry of Justice on Domestic and Sexual abuse.
In 2014 she took on Charlie’s Big Challenge, running across the country via 40 football clubs to cover 250 miles in just 7 days. Charlie, who is a child survivor of domestic violence, has hosted numerous Women’s Aid events including our 40th birthday party at the Club at the Ivy in December 2014 and is a passionate supporter of our Football United Against Domestic Violence campaign.
Charlie says about Football United: “I have one goal… to try and stop all forms of abuse, and this new initiative from Women’s Aid is vital in helping promote positive relationships and stamping out domestic violence. I’m a massive football fan and am delighted to be working with clubs and players to help promote this incredible cause.”
You can currently listen to Charlie on BBC 5live. She is also a survivor herself.
Michelle describes herself as an Olympian, life coach, trainer and a proud wife and mother of three beautiful children. She represented Great Britain for two decades as a Triple Jumper, competing at the highest level, and was the first woman to jump over 14 metres in the Commonwealth.
Since retiring in 2006, she has worked as a personal trainer and life coach and provides mentoring and coaching to individuals and organisations.
“Sport has enabled me to use my voice as a platform for change, and I am incredibly excited to join Women’s Aid as an ambassador. Being able to use my voice is something that I am extremely proud and privileged to do. I believe that being part of such a formidable charity and group of ambassadors, we can continue to work towards ending domestic abuse for women and children.
Education is an integral part of raising awareness and I am hopeful that I can have an impact on people’s lives, so that they can live a life without fear, that they undoubtedly deserve”.
Author Holly Bourne is our Love Respect Ambassador.
“We are never at our more vulnerable than when we are in love, and this is particularly true when we fall in love for the first time with no other relationships to compare it to. That’s why it’s so important Women’s Aid exist to educate young people on what healthy relationships look like and feel like, especially when abusive behaviour is so romanticised by the media. Having a bad boyfriend shouldn’t be an acceptable rite of teen passage. The damage they cause is often long-lasting and marginalised and I’m so proud to be working with Women’s Aid to raise awareness of the warning signs and support the incredible work they do supporting and empowering girls.”
Holly’s work as a champion for women’s rights and her experience working with young women inspired her to write her YA novel, The Places I’ve Cried in Public, which shines a frank light on romance and heartbreak. Honest, moving and insightful, it chimes with the #metoo movement and the work of Love Respect, and will encourage readers to question what a healthy relationship looks like.
Maddy Anholt, Ambassador
Comedian, actress, writer and a survivor, Maddy Anholt is our Love Respect Ambassador.
Maddy has appeared on Jerk, BBC Three, The Emily Atack Show, ITV, she was the face of Sport Relief 2020 and performed four sell-out one-woman shows. She wrote and performed a comedy on BBC Radio 4 and is a regular on ITV’s This Morning. She was speaker for International Women’s Day for The Guardian, Facebook and AllBright. She has written for The Guardian, BBC Radio 4, ITV, BBC Three and Warner Bros. Most recently Maddy landed a book deal with Bluebird, PanMacmillan. ‘How to Leave Your Psychopath’ looks at safe dating, gaslighting, red flags and coercive control and will be published in Spring 2022. Maddy is a passionate advocate for Women’s Rights and, through her work aims to educate, entertain and empower women.
“I am incredibly passionate about working with Women’s Aid to spread their clear and simple message that Love = Respect. Awareness will be our shield and together we can empower young women and gift them the strength to trust their voices, see their worth, know what is and isn’t acceptable and enjoy safe, happy and compassionate love.”
Singer, Jahméne, joined Women’s Aid as our Ambassador for Children and Young People in December 2012. Jahméne, along with his mother Mandy and his siblings, received support from Women’s Aid as they escaped their abusive father, and has lived in refuges all over the country.
Having lived with abuse, Jahméne says:
“When you stand on the right mountains you can see the beauty of life. I want to front Women’s Aid and help to make it a mountain of strength, a sanctuary for those who need it and I’m proud to be part of its foundations.”
Personal trainer, blogger, best-selling author and survivor, Alice joined Women’s Aid as Ambassador in 2018. Since then she has run the Royal Parks Half Marathon for us, hosted events and raised both awareness and funds for Women’s Aid.
At the age of 16 Alice entered her first relationship. Over the next 18 months she endured emotional and physical abuse at the hands of her boyfriend. “I’d completely lost myself, I’d become a shell of the person I was and I’d lost all confidence….I never thought that abuse would happen to someone like me. I didn’t want anyone to find out.”
Alice has gone on to transform her life, using exercise to benefit both physical and mental well-being and is now spreading this positivity through her blogging, Instagram, podcasts, books and personal training.
As an Ambassador for Women’s Aid, Alice wants to show that “there is life after abuse”.
You can follow Alice on social media @Aliceliveing_
Actor Lucy Gaskell joined us in November 2015. Lucy has been a committed advocate for Women’s Aid work, joining our SOS Save Refuges, Save Lives vigil in September 2014.
“We all have the right to feel safe in our own homes. Sadly too many women don’t. Until the day that changes, Women’s Aid are working tirelessly to raise awareness, increase understanding and challenge misconceptions about abuse and support those most vulnerable in our society.
Thanks to them, there is a place they can turn to- for help, support or a safe bed for the night. It is an honour to have been asked to be an ambassador for this charity and to be able speak out on behalf of those too frightened to. Women’s Aid are saving lives and it is absolutely vital that their work can continue. I hope you will join me in supporting the work of Women’s Aid.”
Singer and actor, Will Young became Women’s Aid’s first Ambassador in 2003 and has been a dedicated supporter ever since. As well as helping us raise money through a variety of contacts and performances, Will has spoken at events including the launch of The Hideout in April 2005 and was an integral part of the Real Man campaign in 2010.
He performed at our fundraising gala dinner in 2010 and was on the judging panel of the Avon and Women’s Aid Empowering Awards in 2012.
“Women’s Aid is a charity which I hold great respect for. I am proud to put my name beside this cause and hope that I may be able help more people affected by the terrors of domestic violence, as well as help to create a wider awareness within our society.”