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An Introduction to Our In Safe Hands Project and The Grant Recipients

AVA is delighted to announce five successful grant holders for the In Safe Hands project, funded by the Department for Culture, Media, and Sport. 

Charities who have received the grant from AVA are: 

Kairos Women Working Together  – a Coventry based service offering a range of services that collaborate with women at risk of or subject to sexual exploitation, including women involved in prostitution.

Opoka – is a Bristol based organisation providing crisis and therapeutic support to Polish women who have experienced domestic abuse and violence from perpetrators and the harm of the hostile environment. 

Sikh Women’s Aid – are an award winning by and for organisation offering support to women affected by domestic and sexual violence in the Sikh and Panjabi Community across all settings including faith based exploitation via crisis management and therapeutic support, early intervention and awareness, as well as mental health and resilience building. 

Staffordshire Women’s Aid – have been providing specialist services for women and children living with, fleeing or recovering from the impact of domestic and sexual violence since 1976. 

The Magpie Project – offer a safe, fun and supportive space for mum’s and children under five who are at risk of homelessness or living in temporary accommodation. 

The In Safe Hands project is co-producing a trauma informed kite mark for the specialist women’s sector. The project is working alongside specialist stakeholders with lived and learned experience to truly reflect  the skills and values that define woman centred, trauma informed practice. 

We are using co-production principles and feminist, anti-violence action to create kitemark that will resource and strengthen the women and organisations involved with this work. We are learning and building by doing. We are setting ourselves on an uncharted journey of developing tools, training and resources that will accompany the kitemark through trauma informed practice. 

Central to the In Safe Hands project is the dedicated network of Experts by Experience who shaped and informed our grants process. They identified their priorities for services, worked with us on interview questions, selection and carrying out interviews, and ultimately, making decisions on who would be awarded grants. 

Lily (one of our Experts by Experience) told us:

“It made me feel included and valued. I wanted to help and be part of helping organisations get a better understanding of trauma informed practice. I wanted to be part of a change that means no one will get an experience that feels cold and harsh. The experience I had from services was so dismissive it left me enduring a psychological and physically abusive relationship for longer and ultimately left me homeless. I expected a place of refuge and yet when it came to it it was literally a door closed in my face and meant that as a fourteen year old I had to sleep on a bench in Primrose Hill.”  

Applicants and the selection process:

The range of applications demonstrated the creativity and the breadth of support women need from specialist women’s organisations and the need for a kitemark that is broader than violence against women and girls (VAWG) experiences. 

25% of applicants were from organisations led by Black and Global Majority women. A further 25% were from organisations who worked outside of the field of traditional VAWG areas, supporting women facing  multiple disadvantage – homelessness, mental ill-health, substance use and poverty.  

As part of the process, services told us that they wanted a chance to share and collaborate – to generate new ideas on best practice and consolidate their learning on trauma informed working practices.  Many services told us about needing to be clear about what trauma informed meant to them and their service, that without a framework and clarity it doesn’t mean a lot for a large number of women. In this work we want and require services to move beyond ideas of soft furnishing and a cup of tea as trauma informed work and instead lean into fundamental questions about power, relational dynamics and collaboration which can build trust, belonging and hope. 

We know that you can’t build safety without asking about the dangers and the risks. So we asked applicants what the risks are of being involved in a process that is uncharted; without knowing at this point what the outcomes will look like. We know that for some smaller organisations collaboration has been extractive, women’s experiences have been lost or disenfranchised, trust has been damaged and that in worst case scenarios it’s felt like a replication of authoritarian ‘power over’ positioning. Undoing these harms and offering a strengths based alternative is core to our values. We are delighted that despite these risks the grantees have trusted us enough to share their work with us and to join us on this journey.  

We’re grateful for all the interest in our grants programme and hope that all applicants will be interested in working with us in advance March 2023 when we aim to roll out the kitemark to our early adopters. 

To register your interest in adopting the kitemark in 2023 please email info@avaproject.org.uk 

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