Women’s Aid welcomes The Duchess of Cornwall on Valentine’s Day

The Duchess of Cornwall visited the Women’s Aid head office in Bristol today, meeting survivors of domestic abuse and members of staff.

The Duchess of Cornwall met with survivors, including Claire Throssell, a spokesperson for our Child First campaign which aims to ensure children are put at the heart of family court decisions. Claire spoke about the tragic loss of her two sons, Jack and Paul, both murdered by her husband during family court-ordered access to them, as well as the recent successes of Child First.

The Duchess also met Women’s Aid Ambassador Mandy Thomas, a ‘real life’ Helen Titchener who advised BBC Radio 4’s The Archers on their recent award-winning domestic abuse storyline.

Polly Neate, Chief Executive of Women’s Aid, said:

“Women’s Aid is honoured to have welcomed The Duchess of Cornwall today, to celebrate our work, our teams on the frontline, and the courageous survivors at the heart of the organisation. It is a true privilege for us all.

“Valentine’s Day is a day to celebrate love. But, it is not a happy time for everyone. For women living with domestic abuse, Valentine’s Day can provide no light relief. So, we are especially grateful that The Duchess of Cornwall is championing our work on this significant day, and sending out the powerful message that domestic abuse does not stop on Valentine’s Day.”

Jade Brady, survivor of domestic abuse who met The Duchess of Cornwall, said:

“When I was still with my ex, Valentine’s Day filled me with dread. It was poignant: a day that people were celebrating their love made me feel ashamed of the situation that I was in. I was trapped, isolated and afraid. But there is hope –and thanks to the work of Women’s Aid, I was able to escape my abuser. But we must remember all the women out there who are suffering today – and I thank The Duchess of Cornwall for shedding light on this issue.”

The Duchess of Cornwall also met with staff and heard about the work they do to build a future where domestic abuse is no longer tolerated or legitimised.

Staff spoke about Change that Lasts, the charity’s vision to support survivors of domestic abuse by bringing the issue in to the open and ensuring that women are always listened to, so that help can be provided earlier and in a way that can make a lasting change.

The Duchess of Cornwall also heard about ‘No Woman Turned Away’. The project works with women who have not been able to find space in a refuge, be it due to having a large family, or complex needs related to mental health or addiction issues. The team work with these women, helping them break down the barriers in their way to ensure they reach safety.

Since 2010, England has lost 17% of specialist refuges in England and a third of all referrals to refuges are turned away, normally due to a lack of available space. In September 2016, Women’s Aid had to fight off proposed welfare reforms that would have decimated refuges across the country. The charity has also recently highlighted that refuges are facing a new funding crisis that threatens their future.

Other survivors at the event were:

Chlo Winfield, is a young survivor who helped Women’s Aid launch the Love Don’t Feel Bad website last Valentine’s day. The site helps young people experiencing domestic abuse to talk about their relationships, see the signs and reach the help they need. Chlo continues to work with Women’s Aid and is currently helping train professionals working with survivors of domestic abuse.

Jade Brady, a survivor who has completed sporting feats to raise money for Women’s Aid, from running the London Marathon, to recently completing a 1000km run. She has been through an abusive relationship, but is now happy, healthy and a symbol of hope on Valentine’s Day that, with the right support, there is always light at the end of the tunnel.

Sadi Mehmood, who lives in Nottingham and spoke about how a scheme like Change that Lasts could have helped her when she was going through domestic abuse.

Charlotte Kneer, a refuge manager who works with Women’s Aid to protect refuges, and spoke about why refuges are so vital.

For more information, please contact the Women’s Aid Press Office.

© 2015 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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