Women’s Aid Winter Conference 2021

Wednesday 27th & Thursday 28th January 2021

Online: 09:45 – 13:30 each day

Putting a spotlight on mental health and trauma

The influential and innovative winter conference series from national domestic abuse charity, Women’s Aid, will, in January 2021, put the spotlight on mental health and trauma with a particular focus on the enormous impact of covid-19 both on survivors, and the staff and organsations in the VAWG sector who work to support them.

This intersectional conference will feature a wide range of voices from mental health experts, our member services and experts by experience – survivors themselves. We will be looking forward to how we find solutions in the learning and opportunities that Covid-19 has brought and how we can use these to better support women and children experiencing domestic abuse alongside the staff who work for and with them.

Women’s Aid has a track record of convening exciting and relevant annual conferences bringing together our federation of member organisations in England with leading experts and local and national partners from across the public sector. Our conferences showcase best practice, influence thinking and provide expert speakers with an important platform for discussion.

How to book

We have two booking options

Option 1: Members

I work for a Women’s Aid member service

Option 1: Non-members

I do not work for a Women’s Aid member service

At this event, delegates can expect to:

  • Hear from leading experts and local and national partners from across the public sector on the mental health impact of Covid-19 on survivors and the staff supporting them
  • Hear from survivors’ on their experience of Covid-19 and how we can involve those voices when developing policy and services
  • Explore the learnings and opportunities that we can take forward during the recovery from Covid-19
  • Discuss the ‘whole health approach’ to domestic abuse – from best practice to culture change across the mental health and domestic abuse sectors.

Confirmed speakers include:

  • Dr Shola Mos-Shogbamimu, Lawyer and Political & Women’s Rights Activist (Chair)
  • Melanie Brown, Singer, Presenter and Women’s Aid Patron
  • Ruth Bashall, Chief Executive of Stay Safe East
  • Dr Akima Thomas, Founder and Clinical Director of Women and Girls Network
  • Sarah Dangar, Deputy Chief Executive at AAFDA (Advocacy After Fatal Domestic Abuse)

See agenda for more info.

Conference agenda

Day one: Wednesday, 27th January 2021

09:30 – 13:30

Chair: Shola Mos-Shogbamimu – Lawyer, political and women’s rights activist

09:45 – 09:50: Chair’s introduction

09:50 – 09:55: Word from sponsor – Andria Vidler, Chair of the Trustees, Gamesys Foundation

09:55 – 10:00: Celebration of Janet McDermott – Rehaila Sharif, Interim Head of Member Support Services, Women’s Aid

10:00 – 10:45: In conversation with Melanie Brown, Women’s Aid Patron

10:45 – 11:00: Break

11:00 – 12:00 Panel: Exploring the mental health impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on survivors and the staff who support them

  • Sarika Seshadri, Head of Researh and Evaluation, Women’s Aid
  • Baljit Banga, Executive Director, Imkaan
  • Ruth Bashall, Chief Executive, Stay Safe East
  • Judith, Expert by Experience
  • Sarah Dangar, Deputy CEO, Advocacy After Fatal Domestic Abuse (AAFDA)

12:05 – 12:15: Break

12:15 –  13:15: Supporting staff through challenging times

Chair: Sarah Hill, CEO, IDAS and Chair of Women’s Aid Board of Trustees

  • Jennifer Holly, Training and Project Manager, AVA
  • Ama Afrifa-Tchie, Head of People, Wellbeing & Equity, Mental Health First Aid England (recording only)
  • Zlakha Ahmed, Director, Apna Haq

Conference agenda

Day two: Thursday, 28th January 2021

09:30 – 13:30

Chair: Shola Mos-Shogbamimu – Lawyer, political and women’s rights activist

09:45 – 10:00 Chair’s introduction

09:50 – 10:35 Key note: Dr Akima Thomas, Founder, Women & Girls network

10:35 – 10:50 Break

10:50 – 12:00 Panel: Taking learnings and opportunities into post-covid recovery and beyond

  • Jannicka, expert by experience
  • Miranda Pio, Whole Health Programme Manager, Standing Together
  • Shigufta Khan, CEO, The Wish Centre
  • Firoza Mohmed, CEO, Humraaz
  • Laura Trott, MP for Sevenoaks, Member of Health and Social Care Select Committee

12:00 – 12:15 Break

12:15 – 13:15  Opportunities and challenges of supporting survivors digitally

Chair: Naomi Dickson, CEO, Jewish Women’s Aid

  • Yasmin Rassool, Ask Me Co-ordinator Trainer, Women’s Aid
  • Hera Hussein, Founder and CEO, Chayn
  • Lisa Johnson, Manager of Direct Services and Kat Mann, Senior Support Worker, Women’s Aid

13:15 Final comments

Dr Shola Mos-Shogbamimu is a political & women’s rights activist, taught intersectional feminism to female refugees and asylum seekers; scrutinizes government policies from a gender and diversity inclusion perspective; and co-organises women’s marches and social campaigns. She is also a New York Attorney and Solicitor of England & Wales with broad expertise in the financial services industry, writer, public speaker and political commentator featured in mainstream and online media. She founded the Women in Leadership publication as a platform to drive positive change on topical issues that impact women globally through inspiring personal leadership journeys; and established [email protected] to promote women & BAME leadership in the legal profession through universities and secondary schools. An academic enthusiast, she has an Executive MBA (Cambridge); PhD (Birkbeck); LLM (London School of Economics & Political Science); MA (Westminster) and LLB Hons (Buckingham University).

Website: www.drshola.com Twitter/Facebook/Instagram: @SholaMos1

Sarika Seshadri is Head of Research and Evaluation at Women’s Aid Federation of England. She oversees the organisation’s national programme of research and data collection, supporting policy and practice with a national evidence base on what works for survivors. This includes producing a series of flagship annual reports, conducting in depth pieces of research in collaboration with academics and partners across the sector, evaluating innovative frontline work, monitoring the on-going impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and running two national databases. Routes to Support is a UK-wide directory of violence against women and girls services and refuge vacancies, run in partnership by Scottish Women’s Aid, Welsh Women’s Aid, Women’s Aid Federation of England and Women’s Aid Federation of Northern Ireland. On Track is the Women’s Aid case management and outcomes programme, which incorporates a national outcomes framework developed in partnership with Imkaan.

Prior to joining Women’s Aid her work focused on global water and sanitation programmes, and she completed a PhD exploring transnational partnerships with a UK-based NGO working in partnership with organisations across India.

Miranda Pio is the Whole Health Programme Manager at Standing Together. She has over 10 years’ experience of working in policy and strategic roles in the VAWG sector. She recently oversaw and led on the delivery of the first national project looking at transforming healthcare’s response to domestic abuse across the health economy. The national pilot programme Pathfinder was run across 8 sites in England, covering 27 NHS Trusts and CCGs. It was delivered through a consortium of organisations including AVA, IRISi, Imkaan, SafeLives and Standing Together as the lead organisation. Miranda has led on the development of the first accredited course for VAWG Strategic Leads.

Andria Vidler joined Tag, the global leader in marketing production, as EMEA CEO in January 2020.  Working with global businesses and agencies Tag helps brands standout and sell more, by amplifying content, reducing complexity and optimising effectiveness.

Andria spent the previous six years as CEO of Centaur Media PLC, which she transformed into a business intelligence, data and event group primarily focused on the marketing sector.

Prior to Centaur, Andria spent four years as CEO for EMI Music UK & Ireland and has held senior roles at Magic Radio-Emap, Bauer Media and at the BBC.  She is also a non-executive for Gamesys PLC and previously served as a Trustee for the Roundhouse from 2010-2016 and as Chairman of the Marketing Group of Great Britain in 2014/15.

Sarah Hill is CEO of Independent Domestic Abuse Services (IDAS), a Yorkshire based charity working to support victims and survivors of domestic abuse and sexual violence. With more than 25 years’ experience of working in the charitable sector Sarah has overseen the growth of IDAS from a small local organisation into the largest regional specialist charity supporting over 7,000 people each year.

Sarah is passionate about working to end abuse and violence against women. She represents IDAS and, most importantly, victims and survivors, at children’s and adults safeguarding boards, CPS scrutiny panels and domestic abuse strategy groups.

She is part of the women’s steering group of ACEVO (Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations) which provides peer support and networking opportunities for women CEOs. Sarah is also a board member for a Bangladeshi Women’s Centre in Leeds.

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.”

Dr Akima Thomas OBE is a Black feminist activist and comes from a background in nursing, social work and psychotherapy. Founder and Clinical Director of Women and Girls Network in London, England, Akima has pioneered working from a trauma informed approach and has developed a strengths based, non -pathologising therapeutic model; the Holistic Empowerment Recovery Model (HER) integrating healing of mind body and spirit. More recently Akima has researched women’s healing journey chronicling their strategies of resistance, rebellion and resilience employed by women to secure their survival.

Jannicka is a campaigner, writer and survivor of domestic abuse, sexual violence, and childhood trauma.  Jannicka wants to create and share platforms to speak about her experiences of abuse, mental health, and the particular barriers faced by black women at the intersections of gender and race. Jannicka is a member of Women’s Aid’s Experts by Experience group who took part in the Law in the Making project – a project giving survivors the tools and opportunities to influence the Domestic Abuse Bill; and a member of the Survivor Advisory Board for Women’s Aid’s new mental health campaign. Jannicka is currently training to be a Thinking Space facilitator and writes on her own personal blog.

Laura Trott is the Conservative Member of Parliament for Sevenoaks & Swanley and was first elected in December 2019. 

Laura grew up just outside the constituency in Oxted. She went to Oxted School, and won a place to study at Oxford University – becoming the first in her family to go to university. She has a degree in economics and originally trained as a management consultant. From 2011 until 2015 she served in Downing Street advising the then Prime Minister, latterly as Head of Strategic Communications and also as part of the policy team which wrote the 2015 manifesto. She was made a Member of the Order of the British Empire in recognition of this service. Upon leaving Government she became a partner at a communications firm.  

She is a mum to three children, 1 year old twin boys and a 3 year old girl, and an ambassador for the Sutton Trust – which helps young people who are the first in their family to go to university. Laura is passionate about social mobility and her work with the Sutton Trust is central to her ambition of making university education accessible for all. She also has a particular interest in health policy including maternity provision, children’s healthcare and cosmetic regulation.

Since her election, Laura has been an active campaigner on domestic abuse, running local campaigns to raise awareness and highlight support for victims. She also supported the Domestic Abuse Bill and raised the issue of domestic abuse convictions with the Justice Minister in December 2020.

Hera Hussein is the Founder of CHAYN – a global volunteer-run project crowdsourcing resources on the web to address gender-based violence. Chayn has reached more than 360 000 people through its resources which are designed with survivors of abuse. Born in Scotland, raised in Pakistan and living in the UK, Hera knew from early on she wanted to empower women. Hera is a passionate believer in using the power of open source technology and open data to solve the world’s pressing issues. Hera was on the Forbes 30 Under 30 and MIT Technology Review’s Innovators Under 35 list.

Ama Afrifa-Tchie is a valiant cultural builder, who’s specialism spans across people experience, workplace culture, diversity & inclusion, mental health and wellbeing and corporate responsibility. She is experienced in leading the design, analysis, and implementation of people-centric products/services, inclusion & wellbeing initiatives.

She works with senior leadership, management teams, and employee engagement to; embed and integrate organisational culture through behaviour, processes and systems, and seeks to promote a positive, inclusive and supportive work environment and company culture by developing and evolving programmes and initiatives that support the organisation’s mission and values.

Ama has built her career and expertise (over 14 years ‘experience) with different industries such as – start-ups, tech, professional services, legal, financial services, media & entertainment. Ama has an LLB in Law and a MA in Public Relations and Public Communications.

Shigufta Khan is the CEO of The Wish Centre and has worked in the domestic abuse sector and prior to that with vulnerable people for over two decades. Shigufta knows the value and importance of specialist provision for victims impacted by domestic abuse and is proud to lead an organisation that provides a range of services for victims, children and perpetrators.


Shigufta also delivers training on domestic abuse locally, regionally and nationally, sits on local DHR panels and has attended the National Marac scrutiny panels at the Home office looking at best practice when dealing with High risk cases.

Naomi Dickson became Chief Executive of Jewish Women’s Aid in 2014. Since becoming CEO, Naomi has supported the organisation through significant growth. In addition to ensuring a high professional standard in augmented frontline services for Jewish women experiencing domestic abuse, she oversaw the expansion of the charity’s offer through the launch of the specialist Dina Sexual Violence Support Service in 2019. The charity also has a newly enhanced education programme in schools and on campus, promoting consent and healthy relationships.

Naomi has been involved in Jewish Women’s Aid for 18 years, initially as a volunteer, and she is proud of creating JWA’s training programme to raise awareness in the Jewish community, and empower rabbis and communal professionals to better identify and support women and children who are affected by domestic abuse. She is also proud that Jewish Women’s Aid is held in high regard across the Jewish community and domestic abuse sector.

Naomi is a trustee of Women’s Aid Federation of England, a founder of the Faiths Against Domestic Abuse Coalition, and a Fellow of the Cambridge Senior Faith Leadership Programme. Naomi was privileged to be named on the BBC’s global list of 100 inspiring and influential women in 2020.

For further information

More details are to follow soon but if you need any further information at this stage please contact us on [email protected]

Thank you to Gamesys Foundation for kindly sponsoring this event.

© 2020 Women's Aid Federation of England – Women’s Aid is a company limited by guarantee registered in England No: 3171880.

Women’s Aid is a registered charity in England No. 1054154

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