Celebrating sisterhood: Janet McDermott leaves Women’s Aid with a lasting impact
This week we are saying farewell to Janet McDermott, our Head of Membership, who is sadly having to leave her position due to ongoing ill health. We really want to celebrate the important contribution that Janet made to the work of Women’s Aid, and her wider work to tackle social injustice.
A tribute message written by Acting CEO at Women’s Aid, Nicki Norman
We all want Janet to know how much we value her contribution and how proud we are of her for what she has achieved. Most importantly, Janet had an immeasurable positive impact on the lives of survivors, and the services that support them.
Janet is a truly incredible woman, who has lived her professional, activist and personal life across different axes of oppression and marginalisation. As a South Asian woman and feminist, Janet is a passionate activist for Black and minoritised women and the services supporting them.
I first got to know Janet when she joined Women’s Aid to work on our Aya project – providing capacity building support in partnership with Imkaan, who we share members with. Very quickly I came to know Janet’s unwavering commitment to addressing inequality and that her approach was genuinely based on the principle of ‘nothing about us without us’.
As well as two novels, Janet has written books about lesbian and gay foster care and adoption, drawing on her own experiences, and contributed to several other publications.
For Janet, the personal has always been political.
Janet’s wide ranging knowledge and experiences mean that she has built valuable networks across the violence against women and girls (VAWG) sector. Not only will we miss Janet’s significant contribution to our work and the sector, but we will miss our kind and thoughtful – and often very funny – colleague.
Janet has dedicated her life to advocating for the rights and needs of women and girls affected by VAWG, and in particular for Black and minoritised women and girls, and the specialist services supporting them. She has shown compassion, determination and bravery every single day of her working life and has campaigned tirelessly on the issues she cared so much about. During her career, Janet has worked in refuges, advocacy, therapeutic counselling, training and governance. Janet was a founder of the Ashiana Black Women’s refuge, and became a trustee for a number of organisations. Janet volunteered with women’s projects in Delhi, Tamil Nadu and Nepal, and most recently Janet provided governance and capacity building support for the delivery of Sign Health’s domestic abuse response ‘Deaf Hope’.
At Women’s Aid, Janet headed our membership team, and as part of this work wrote and implemented the National Quality Standards for domestic abuse services that are based on intersectional feminist values. These transformational standards have since been used by the government as accreditation criteria. Janet also was a key staff member in the setting up of the Black and Minoritised workers’ group at Women’s Aid, and in the development of our Race Equality Strategy. She planted the seeds of some important work which we will now invest in and develop.
“My own experience of working with Janet is one of true sisterhood.”
To a woman whose kindness, integrity and honesty knew no limits, and who would always ‘do the right thing’ no matter how hard it might be, we thank you, Janet, from the bottom of our hearts, for the amazing contribution you have made to the fight to end violence against women and girls, and to our lives personally as your colleagues.
You are our unsung hero.
We’re developing an online memory book for Janet, so if you have any photographs, special memories or messages for Janet, please email them to [email protected].