A £10,000 grant to London charity Advance is helping to change attitudes and make Hammersmith & Fulham a safer borough for women.
The grant from the charity UNITED in Hammersmith & Fulham and H&F Council supports the work of an organisation set up in 1998 to campaign for an equal, violence-free world for women who have experienced domestic abuse.
Chief executive Niki Scordi said that Advance already works in partnership with many of the council’s departments, including housing and social care, and – in the last year alone – has assisted 7,000 women and children.
Niki believes that the issue of women’s safety is changing. “H&F is committed to helping, and provides wide-ranging services as well as reaching out to us,” she said, emphasising how the Advance charity had a much wider remit than women’s safety.
We support women
She said Advance works with the police, the court service, housing and social services, providing helplines and advice for people in need of support.
“We support women, children, specific communities with specific needs, female genital mutilation, sexual abuse, stalking, harassment and more,” she said.
While better street lighting and CCTV are all well and good, she added, the solution to the issue of women’s safety goes much deeper.
“Women are also assaulted in broad daylight, and in the home,” she said. “This goes well beyond wearing longer skirts… it’s about men changing their behaviour.”
Tackling violence against women
Cllr Sue Fennimore, Deputy Leader of H&F Council, backs the work of the Advance charity, which was set up in the wake of a 1996 statistic that revealed there were just 10 convictions out of 2,000 reported cases of domestic abuse that year.
“It is vital that we work together with organisations such as Advance to tackle violence against women and girls. It is unacceptable that one in five women will experience some form of sexual abuse in their lifetime, and one in four women will be victims of domestic abuse,” she said, pledging H&F Council’s continued commitment to ending all forms of violence and ensuring that the borough remains a safe place for all.
Demand for support for women experiencing domestic abuse has increased fourfold during the pandemic, with 70% of those seeking help having children.
The latest £10,000 grant, building on other financial support which the council has given, will also support women caught up in the criminal justice system or who are at risk of offending.
Savraj Kaur, director of the UNITED charity, said: “In the middle of Women’s History Month, Sarah Everard’s disappearance and murder sent shockwaves through the community, and raised feelings of trauma for many, many women and girls.
“We know there are local women in dangerous circumstances and we hope this £10,000 will help Advance’s all-women staff ensure those who seek urgent safety can access it without delay.”