Archive for the ‘Wales’ Category

It follows an undercover report by the Guardian newspaper into the claims made by the woman, aged 29, who is referred to by an assumed name of Beth Ellis. A detailed account of her attempts to bring her alleged assailant to court has been published in the newspaper. The CPS said she “deserves a thorough investigation of her allegations”.

“We can confirm that Chris Newell, principal legal advisor for the Crown Prosecution Service, has asked the chief crown prosecutor for south Wales, Christopher Woolley, to refer the rape allegation made by Ms Beth Ellis in December 2005 back to the South Wales Police for it to be reinvestigated,” said a CPS spokeswoman. “Mr Newell reviewed the case with the assistance of an experienced rape specialist lawyer and identified a significant number of further inquiries that he believed should be made.”

The woman, who now lives in the south of England, claims that as a child in the Swansea Valley she was raped by her stepfather. She said South Wales Police spent nine months gathering evidence and witness statements before passing the file to crown prosecutors. However, the file was then lost and not recovered for a number of months. Finally, in February 2007, she was told that the CPS had decided not to proceed with the case.

In her journal extracts published in The Guardian, she wrote:

“I don’t know how to carry this. I’d be better off dead. I tried to do something about it, I try to show people what he did and they say there’s no case to answer.

“This stinking world where a man spent 10 years raping me; another man spent a few days investigating it; and another man a few hours reading about it and a few minutes telling me: ‘No – you cannot have what you want.’

“This has killed me.”

However, Ms Ellis refused to take the CPS rejection and persuaded the Guardian to take up her case, which followed her back to south Wales to confront the CPS.

“Ms Ellis deserves a thorough investigation of her allegations,” a CPS spokeswoman responded on Wednesday. South Wales Police also confirmed that they were in discussions with the CPS to move the process forward. “South Wales Police is clearly concerned that this individual is unhappy with the investigation and the way she was dealt with by the Crown Prosecution Service,” said the force’s deputy chief constable Peter Vaughan. “As far as the investigation is concerned we will make every effort to ensure that her concerns are addressed. To this end we confirm that we have instructed our Major Crime Review Unit to undertake a thorough review of it. We will be in contact with the person concerned at the very earliest opportunity and will keep her informed of developments.”

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/wales/south_east/7339165.stm

_______________________________________________________________
See original story “Errors, delays and finally rejection: one woman’s ordeal” at http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2008/jan/14/ukcrime.law

Plus “An extract from Beth Ellis’s journal describing how she reported her stepfather, and her feelings as the next 14 months unfolded” at http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2008/jan/14/ukcrime.law1

This report draws together work being done across Government to tackle violence against women and responds to the End Violence Against Women (EVAW) coalition’s annual Making the Grade survey. To view the report please click here http://www.womenandequalityunit.gov.uk/publications/7589-TSO-Tackling%20Violence%20WEB.pdf.

Women Not For Sale (published January 2008)

The report Women Not For Sale sets out findings from research commissioned to establish the scale of advertising of women and services offered by women in personal classifieds in the English regional and local press. The research found that the advertising of women, either discreetly or overtly, for sex or sexual services in the regional press is commonplace. Typically, these advertisements are sandwiched between innocuous advertisements for other services and goods. For more information click here http://www.womenandequalityunit.gov.uk/publications/Women_Not_For_Sale.pdf.

Domestic Violence

Domestic violence currently claims 104 lives a year, 83 women and 21 men, and it has a devastating impact on many other people. The Government is determined to prevent domestic violence happening or recurring, to protect and support its victims, and to bring offenders to justice.

This Government is committed to tackling domestic violence. As the statistics show, it is rarely a one-off incident, but is usually manifested as a pattern of abusive and controlling behaviour. The Government is determined to ensure that perpetrators are held accountable for their actions.

It has defined domestic violence as ‘any incident of threatening behaviour, violence or abuse (psychological, physical, sexual, financial or emotional) between adults who are or have been intimate partners or family members, regardless of gender or sexuality.’

To find out more about Domestic Violence including what the Government is doing about it visit the Home Office Domestic Violence Mini-Site http://www.crimereduction.gov.uk/dv/dv01.htm.

UK Action Plan on Tackling Human Trafficking

The Action Plan launched in March 2007, pulls together the work currently under way to tackle trafficking across government. It creates a platform for future work to combat the problem and aims to balance protecting and assisting victims with enforcement work targeting the organised crime groups responsible for much of the trafficking.

Subjects covered by the Action plan are:
* Crime and law enforcement
* Employment, jobs and careers
* European and international affairs
* Justice system
* Social issues.

A copy of the action plan can be viewed at http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/documents/human-traffick-action-plan?view=Binary.

The Cross Government Action Plan on Sexual and Violent Abuse

The Action Plan was published in April 2007 and it brings together the measures underway and planned to deliver our key objectives on sexual violence and abuse, which are:
To maximise prevention of sexual violence and abuse
To increase access to support and health services for victims of sexual violence and abuse
To improve the criminal justice response to sexual violence and abuse.

A copy of the action plan can be viewed at http://www.crimereduction.gov.uk/sexualoffences/finalsvaap.pdf.

Source http://www.womenandequalityunit.gov.uk/domestic_violence/index.htm

Displaying reporting links to agencies including the police, NSPCC and the Samaritans on social networking websites is one of a range of recommendations for industry and users in new guidance launched today by Home Secretary Jacqui Smith, alongside new proposals to make it harder for child sex offenders to meet children online.

Under new plans to monitor sex offenders online, which will be developed and explored in partnership with industry and CEOP on behalf of law enforcement agencies, the email addresses of registered child sex offenders will be passed by police to social networking websites, enabling these websites to stop offenders using their sites. Sex offenders would face up to five years in prison if they fail to give police their email addresses or provide a false email address.

The first UK Social Networking Guidance provides advice for industry, parents and children about how to stay safe online. This has been developed by a Taskforce of representatives from industry, charity and law enforcement agencies including Vodafone, the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP) and the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC).

The Home Secretary also launched a new Kitemark to set a standard for filtering software for home computers and strengthen protection of children online. This ensures that parents have confidence that the filtering product they use meets an independent standard.

The Social Networking Guidance contains a number of recommendations for service providers and safety advice for users for the first time including:
* The display of reporting and/or advice links to a range of agencies such as CEOP, NSPCC, Samaritans, and others to allow users to report issues of abuse or seek help;
* Arrangements for industry and law enforcement to share reports of potentially illegal activity and suspicious behaviour;
* To make it more difficult for people registered over the age of 18 to search for users under the age of 18; and
* To encourage children not to provide excessive information about themselves

This good practice document is unique in bringing together the major players in industry, based in different countries, along with law enforcement and children’s charities, to agree a set of principles aimed at protecting children that they will all work towards.

The Kitemark is designed to raise the standard of internet filtering, monitoring and blocking applications for the UK market and will be of particular benefit to parents when selecting suitable products and services.

______________________________________________________________
Notes:
1. The Home Secretary’s Taskforce on Child Protection on the Internet was formed in 2001, bringing together Government, online technology providers, law enforcement and child protection specialists to work together to tackle issues relating to the protection of children on the internet.
2. The full Social Networking Guidance and the contributors can be found at http://police.homeoffice.gov.uk/operational-policing/crime-disorder/child-protection-taskforce
3. Under the plans to introduce the disclosure of the details of child sex offenders subject to notification requirements to social networking sites, we would require them to notify police of their email addresses. This will be done through secondary legislation, subject to the Criminal Justice and Immigration Bill receiving Royal Assent later this year.
4. Further details on the Criminal Justice and Immigration Bill can be found at http://www.justice.gov.uk/publications/criminal-justice-bill.htm

Extract from http://nds.coi.gov.uk/Content/Detail.asp?ReleaseID=364500&NewsAreaID=2

About 175 members of Parliament in the United Kingdom have signed a motion that calls on the Department for International Development to place women at the center of its HIV/AIDS strategies worldwide, the Herald Express reports. The motion, part of the “Women Matter” campaign run by the group VSO, also calls on DFID to influence other international agencies to focus on the impact of HIV/AIDS on women. In addition, the motion aims to ensure that men are involved with HIV/AIDS prevention efforts.

The “Women Matter” campaign aims to highlight how violence, discrimination and inequality place women in sub-Saharan Africa at an increased risk of HIV. “The world must sit up and listen to what’s happening, and I shall be pressing the government to ensure that this issue is given the attention it deserves,” said MP Richard Younger-Ross, who has signed the motion.

http://www.kaisernetwork.org/daily_reports/rep_index.cfm?DR_ID=51402

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* Read more about VSO’s Women Matter at http://www.vso.org.uk/womenmatter/

* Use their online form to ask your MP to sign Early Day Motion 912: Women, Girls and HIV and AIDS

That this House recognises that around the world women and girls are being disproportionately affected by HIV and AIDS; notes that gender inequality, violence and discrimination are driving the feminisation of the pandemic; recognises that many HIV and AIDS programmes do not adequately address the specific needs and rights of women and girls; and therefore calls on the Government to show international leadership by placing them at the centre of its revised HIV and AIDS strategy, ensuring men are actively involved as part of the solution.

by going to http://campaign.publicaffairsbriefing.co.uk/emailsupport.aspx?cid=36f342f3-e8df-4bcb-bac5-af8348d84a88

* See earlier story More women and children receiving HIV and AIDS treatment – UNICEF report at https://womensphere.wordpress.com/2008/04/10/more-women-and-children-receiving-hiv-and-aids-treatment-%e2%80%93-unicef-report/

“If people join us now, they will be in at the beginning of something potentially revolutionary,” says Maggie Baxter, talking about the upcoming launch of the new UK Women’s Fund. Maggie Baxter is one of those rare people who combine inspiration with pragmatism; she has spent more than 30 years in the voluntary sector, from grants director of Comic Relief to director of Womankind Worldwide; yet she has never lost the idealism that has driven her from the start of her career. “When you see the difference that actually quite small amounts of money can make, in well run and well led projects, then you do feel optimistic about how funds like this can change lives.”

There are more than 200 women’s funds in the world, stretching from the Ukraine to Ghana, from India to the USA, where there are dozens – while we are still waiting for a national women’s fund in the UK. Elsewhere, these funds – which include well known organisations such as the Global Fund for Women and MamaCash, through to community funds such as the Women’s Fund of Greater Milwaukee – are successful in channelling money towards women’s organisations.

In doing so they fill a real need, because grant-making is often blind to the fundamental inequalities between men and women, which means that women’s organisations lose out. “I was first really aware of this when I went to Africa for Comic Relief in the 1990s,” says Baxter, “I saw how women do all the work and yet are so unrecognised. In a less obvious way, the same is still true of the UK – the work that the women’s sector does, whether it’s in protecting women from violence or campaigning for political equality – still tends to get sidelined, which means that women’s organisations remain horribly underfunded, despite superficial equality elsewhere in society.”

Alice Hooper at the branding agency Rainey Kelly, who has been working on the launch of the UK Women’s Fund, was struck by the response of the women in the focus groups they talked to: “At first women said that they didn’t see the point of a special women’s fund, but when we presented them with the real needs on the grounds for many women, particularly around sexual violence – how rape crisis lines are being cut, how women who flee trafficking can’t find support – we saw a change in the room. Women began to join up the dots. They saw the connections between these issues and issues such as a lack of political representation.”

The fund will aim to draw in new money from people who may not have been attracted to philanthropy in the past, as well as influence existing funders to invest in women. In other countries where women’s funds have taken off, Baxter has noted that they foster a spirit of sisterhood and solidarity, which she is keen to see take off in the UK too. “There is a strong sense of self-interest in our society at the moment, a sense that ‘if I’m all right I can ignore those who aren’t’. But I think when you encourage people to realise that they can be part of a movement to grow a better society, they are drawn to that.” Hooper agrees: “There is the potential for a huge leap here. Just recently it wasn’t at all cool to be green, and that has turned around. I think the same could happen with women’s issues – that it could become cool for women to get involved in empowering other women.”

http://www.philanthropyuk.org/Newsletter/Mar2008Issue32/UKWomensFundtolaunch

The Public Law Outline introduces simpler and more streamlined court procedures and promotes the earlier identification of key issues in the process including;
* Setting court timetables focused on the needs to the child;
* Ensuring local authorities are better and more fully prepared before making applications to the courts;
* Cutting the current six stages of the court process to four;

The Public Law Outline, an initiative led by the Judiciary of England and Wales, also aims to promote better co-operation between all parties involved in care and supervision cases.

Speaking at the launch of the Public Law Outline, family justice minister Bridget Prentice said;

“Children and families involved in care proceedings are among the most vulnerable in society. We should try and prevent children from having to be removed by the courts from their parents’ care. It should be a last resort after all other options have been explored, such as care from grandparents or other family members. But where a child is suffering abuse or neglect, court intervention may be the right option. Improving the care proceedings process in the courts and reducing delays will go a considerable way to better meet the needs of these children.”

Children’s minister Kevin Brennan said:

“If we are to achieve our vision of making this the best country in the world to grow up, we need to focus our attention on the most vulnerable and disadvantaged children in our society. Children in care have been marginalised for too long and allowed to fail. Our Children and Young Person’s Bill will ensure that family and friends care is always the first option for these children. But when children do have to come into care we want to make sure they are well looked after, which is why we have just issued new guidance to local authorities.”

The Public Law Outline procedures are supported by revised statutory guidance for local authorities to assist them in preparing care applications to the court produced by the Department for Children, Schools and Families and the Welsh Assembly Government. That guidance places a strong emphasis on close communications with families and on exploring options for children to be supported and cared for by their wider families while making clear that timely action should always be taken through the courts to safeguard children when necessary.

The development of these reforms reflect the joined-up approach that has been taken covering the full process of bringing before the family courts those children who are believed by local authorities to have suffered, or to be likely to suffer, abuse and neglect.

The government is implementing key reforms to the child care proceedings system in England and Wales, following a review of the system completed in 2006. The reforms will improve the system and provide better outcomes for children while ensuring that resources are used in a timely and effective way.

Notes
1. The Public Law Outline will replace the existing Protocol for Judicial Case Management in Public Law Children Act Cases from 1 April 2008. It is available from http://www.justice.gov.uk/guidance/careproceedings.htm
2. The Department for Children, Schools and Families has published revised statutory guidance (Volume 1 ‘Court Orders’ of the Children Act 1989 Guidance) to help local authorities prepare and commence care proceedings. The Welsh Assembly is publishing its own version of the guidance for Welsh local authorities. The guidance will come into force in both England and Wales in April 2008.

http://nds.coi.gov.uk/Content/Detail.asp?ReleaseID=364144&NewsAreaID=2

Displaying reporting links to agencies including the police, NSPCC and the Samaritans on social networking websites is one of a range of recommendations for industry and users in new guidance launched today by Home Secretary Jacqui Smith, alongside new proposals to make it harder for child sex offenders to meet children online.

Under new plans to monitor sex offenders online, which will be developed and explored in partnership with industry and CEOP on behalf of law enforcement agencies, the email addresses of registered child sex offenders will be passed by police to social networking websites, enabling these websites to stop offenders using their sites. Sex offenders would face up to five years in prison if they fail to give police their email addresses or provide a false email address.

The first UK Social Networking Guidance provides advice for industry, parents and children about how to stay safe online. This has been developed by a Taskforce of representatives from industry, charity and law enforcement agencies including Vodafone, the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP) and the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC).

The Home Secretary also launched a new Kitemark to set a standard for filtering software for home computers and strengthen protection of children online. This ensures that parents have confidence that the filtering product they use meets an independent standard.

The Social Networking Guidance contains a number of recommendations for service providers and safety advice for users for the first time including:
* The display of reporting and/or advice links to a range of agencies such as CEOP, NSPCC, Samaritans, and others to allow users to report issues of abuse or seek help;
* Arrangements for industry and law enforcement to share reports of potentially illegal activity and suspicious behaviour;
* To make it more difficult for people registered over the age of 18 to search for users under the age of 18; and
* To encourage children not to provide excessive information about themselves

This good practice document is unique in bringing together the major players in industry, based in different countries, along with law enforcement and children’s charities, to agree a set of principles aimed at protecting children that they will all work towards.

The Kitemark is designed to raise the standard of internet filtering, monitoring and blocking applications for the UK market and will be of particular benefit to parents when selecting suitable products and services.

————————————————————————-
Notes:
1. The Home Secretary’s Taskforce on Child Protection on the Internet was formed in 2001, bringing together Government, online technology providers, law enforcement and child protection specialists to work together to tackle issues relating to the protection of children on the internet.
2. The full Social Networking Guidance and the contributors can be found at http://police.homeoffice.gov.uk/operational-policing/crime-disorder/child-protection-taskforce
3. Under the plans to introduce the disclosure of the details of child sex offenders subject to notification requirements to social networking sites, we would require them to notify police of their email addresses. This will be done through secondary legislation, subject to the Criminal Justice and Immigration Bill receiving Royal Assent later this year.
4. Further details on the Criminal Justice and Immigration Bill can be found at http://www.justice.gov.uk/publications/criminal-justice-bill.htm

Extract from http://nds.coi.gov.uk/Content/Detail.asp?ReleaseID=364500&NewsAreaID=2

Tackling domestic violence has been one of the government’s key priorities since 1997. Today the government reaffirmed their commitment to supporting the victims of domestic violence with the announcement of more than thirty new Specialist Domestic Violence Court (SDVCs) systems across England and Wales. This brings the total number of SDVCs in the national programme to 98.

SDVCs are a fundamental part of the government’s efforts to improve the support and care we provide for victims of domestic violence. A multi-agency approach is central to the success of these innovative courts; police, prosecutors court staff, the probation service and specialist support services work together to identify, track and risk assess domestic violence cases, support victims and share information so that more offenders are brought to justice. Amongst the pioneering features are: -
* specially trained magistrates in dealing with domestic violence
* separate entrances, exits and waiting areas so that victims don’t come into contact with their attackers
* cases clustered on a particular day or fast-tracked through the system, limiting the likelihood of further incidents
* tailored support and advice from Independent Domestic Violence Advisors.

Justice Minister, Bridget Prentice said:

“Since 1997 this government has done substantial work in trying to tackle this particularly appalling crime. Domestic violence deeply affects victims, regardless of gender, race, class, age and sexuality. This work is a continuation of the joint National Delivery Plan for Domestic Violence which sets out clear aims and objectives and is proving to be effective in protecting victims and bringing perpetrators to justice. Their success shows that where victims of domestic violence have confidence in the criminal justice system to report these crimes, the system will help them.”

Home Secretary Jacqui Smith said:

“Improving the support available to the courageous victims of these devastating crimes is crucial in encouraging people to come forward. The success and expansion of the Specialist Domestic Violence Courts system will ensure that we continue to bring more perpetrators to justice and improve the support and safety of victims. We have made good progress on domestic violence over the last ten years but we know there is more to do and I want to reassure women everywhere that keeping them safe from harm is a top Government priority.”

The Attorney General, Baroness Scotland QC said:

“The Specialist Domestic Violence Courts are a fundamental part of our effort to improve the support and care we provide for victims of domestic violence. We are committed to providing a first class prosecution service. By providing specialist training for prosecutors and better support systems for victims we are seeing a tangible difference in performance. In the last four years we have seen marked success – and we need to keep aiming higher. Perpetrators must be brought to justice, and when they are our specialist prosecutors and support services will be there to assist victims every step of the way.”

In a review of the first 23 SDVC systems, published on 8 March, it is clear that they have contributed to improvements in both justice and safety for domestic violence victims. Ten of those achieved a successful prosecution rate of over 70 per cent, with one reaching over 80 per cent and the remaining 12 achieving an average rate of 66 per cent.

Other key findings of the Review, conducted jointly by the Crown Prosecution Service, the Home Office and the Ministry of Justice, which analysed the data and performance of the 23 Specialist Domestic Violence Court systems in England and Wales from October 2006 until March 2007 are:
* An improvement in the responses of individual agencies: in relation to the police, a high level of domestic violence crimes being arrested (an average of over 80 percent);
* Just under six thousand victim referrals were made to Independent Domestic Violence Advisers – an average of 269 referrals per IDVA service; and, around three-quarters (74 percent) of clients involved in the court process were supported by Independent Domestic Violence Advisers at court.

We are delighted that these courts are proving successful and hope to continue rolling them out nationally.

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Notes:

1. The full list of the new selected specialist domestic violence court systems areas:

Region Local Justice Area Courthouse
East Midlands Mansfield LJA Mansfield MC
Eastern Beds and Mid Beds LJA Bedford MC
Eastern Luton and South Beds LJA Luton MC
North East Gateshead District LJA Gateshead MC
North West South Cheshire LJA Crewe MC
North West Furness and District LJA, South Lakeland LJA Barrow-in-Furness MC and Kendal MC
North West West Allerdale and Keswick LJA, Whitehaven LJA Workington MC and Whitehaven MC
North West Fylde Coast LJA Fylde Coast MC in Blackpool
North West Burnley, Pendle and Rossendale LJA Burnley MC
North West Lancaster LJA Lancaster MC
North West Preston LJA Preston MC
North West South Ribble LJA Leyland MC
North West Ormskirk LJA Ormskirk MC
South East Central Kent LJA Maidstone MC
South East Sussex Central LJA Brighton MC
South East Sussex Eastern LJA Hastings MC, Eastbourne MC and Lewes MC
South East Sussex Western and Northern LJAs Worthing MC and Crawley MC
South East Maidenhead- East Berks LJA, Reading- Reading LJA, Newbury-West Berks LJA Reading MC, Maidenhead MC and Newbury MC
South East Milton Keynes LJA Milton Keynes MC
South East Oxford LJA Oxford and Southern Oxfordshire MC
South West Bath and Wansdyke LJA Bath MC
South West Bristol Bristol MC
South West North Somerset North Somerset MC
South West North Devon LJA Barnstaple MC
South West East Cornwall LJA Bodmin MC
South West West Cornwall LJA Truro MC
South West South Devon LJA Torquay and Newton Abbot MC
South West North Wiltshire LJA and Swindon LJA Chippenham MC
South West Swindon LJA Swindon MC
Wales Flintshire LJA Mold MC
West Midlands Shrewsbury LJA Shrewsbury MC
West Midlands Telford and Bridgnorth LJA Telford MC
West Midlands Warwickshire LJA Nuneaton, Rugby and Stratford Upon Avon MC
Yorkshire/Humberside Wakefield LJA Wakefield and Pontefract MC
South East New Forest LJA Southampton MC

2. The Specialist Domestic Violence Review: http://www.crimereduction.homeoffice.gov.uk/dv/dv018.htm;
http://www.cps.gov.uk/publications/equality/index.html

3. Further information on Specialist Domestic Violence Courts can be found at http://www.crimereduction.homeoffice.gov.uk/domesticviolence/domesticviolence59.htm

4. Details of Sexual Assault Referral Centres can be found at http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/crime-victims/reducing-crime/sexual-offences/sexual-assault-referral-centres/referral-centre-locations/?version=4

5. More information on The Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims Act 2004 can be found at http://www.opsi.gov.uk/acts/acts2004/ukpga_20040028_en_1

http://nds.coi.gov.uk/Content/Detail.asp?ReleaseID=364249&NewsAreaID=2

The RSPCA is seeking “foster homes” for the pets of people fleeing abusive relationships.

According to the welfare organisation, women – and sometimes men – who are being attacked can fear that if they escape the abuse their spouse will take out their anger on the pet.

Welsh Women’s Aid, which helped find safe refuge for more than 1,200 women and 1,000 children of abused mothers in 2006-07, welcomed the RSPCA initiative. Very few refuges for abused spouses can provide shelter for pets due to health and safety regulations and allergy concerns.

Spokeswoman Amy Kitcher said, “We’re all in favour of it. It’s removing a barrier to stopping women leaving abusive relationships.”

Since the pet-fostering scheme was launched in Wales, 15 families have been helped and the search is on for more volunteers.

It follows successful programmes in England. Bernice Dawes, from Bristol, urged Welsh families to look after pets; she has taken in 10 cats since 2004.

She said, “When the animals first come to you they are very traumatised. They will have seen a lot of violence or had very violent things done to them.”

But she added, “It’s very rewarding. You see them visibly relaxing.

“Just be patient and take your time and wait for the animal to come to you. Eventually the cat will come out and want to know you and be nuzzled and so on.”

Ms Dawes said she was sad to see the pets go, but delighted she could help people escape domestic abuse.

“I think a lot of women hold on for longer because they don’t want their pets to be harmed,” she said.

“Seeing an animal and owner happy when they are reunited makes it easier to part with the animal when it is time for them to go home.”

Carolyn Southwell, who manages the project, said, “It is thanks to people like Bernice that we are able to operate the PetRetreat scheme. The scheme is fully committed to the animals that are caught up in domestic abuse and fits hand in glove with the work that we already do within the RSPCA.”

All the costs of fostering are met by the RSPCA. Each animal is assessed before they go to a home.

Ms Southwell said, “By helping these animals, as we do in our everyday work, we are in a position to be able to help the families involved.

“A human victim of domestic abuse once said to us, ‘If I did not own pets then I would have left years ago.’ Our scheme offers such victims a safe home for their animals for as long as they need it. “If we can step in and break that cycle, we will be doing a tremendous amount to help both people and animals.”

Ms Dawes said abusive spouses often used pets as hostages, saying, “A lot of the time the perpetrator of the violence will use the cat as a lever: ‘If you go the cat gets it.’”

Research indicates that domestic abuse continues to be a major threat.

Women’s Aid said one in four women in Wales and England will experience domestic abuse by their partner or ex-partner at some time in their life. Across the UK, two women a week are murdered by a partner or ex-partner.

Domestic abuse accounts for nearly a quarter of violent crime and a women will be assaulted on average 35 times before reporting it to the police.

Labour AM Carl Sargeant, a supporter of the scheme, said, “We mustn’t forget that pets are also in danger from violence in the home. They are frequently threatened, injured or killed by the perpetrator who uses violence toward the pet to frighten and intimidate their partner and children, so it is important that there are safe retreats for pets to go to too.”

A pet-fosterer will mainly care for dogs and cats but could have the opportunity to look after animals such as rabbits, guinea pigs or birds.

http://icwales.icnetwork.co.uk/news/wales-news/2008/03/27/foster-a-pet-to-help-owners-flee-domestic-abuse-91466-20678807/

British courts are overturning decisions taken by immigration officers that would have protected men and women from being forced into marriage.

The director of UK Visas said that appeals to the courts were often successful because people sponsoring foreigners to enter Britain were too frightened to admit that the applicants were being forced into marriage. Mark Sedwill said that 452 visas for Pakistani applicants were refused last year on the ground of family abuse, of which the majority were because of fears of forced marriage. He said that 116 cases were taken to appeal and 37 were successful.

Victims of forced marriage may even have been put in the position of giving evidence to the immigration tribunal in Britain to back their spouses’ appeals, Mr Sedwill admitted. “This is the real tragedy of this situation, that sponsors are forced into this position,” he told the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee inquiry into domestic violence yesterday.

The only right of appeal against the immigration tribunal’s decision is on a point of law.

Mr Sedwill said that sponsors of spouses or fiancées were often unwilling to make a public statement about the nature of the family abuse, including forced marriage, because they were frightened of the family reaction. He said that, of the 452 refusals, 252 involved British citizens who had reluctantly been required to sponsor an applicant from Pakistan and 86 were vulnerable adults, including people who were severely disabled.

One of the cases involved a disabled man in his early thirties whose parents could no longer look after him, so they attempted to marry him to a girl from the Indian sub-continent, he said.

In addition, there were 30 reluctant sponsors of Bangladeshi visa applications and 12 of Indian applications.

Overall 5,500 spousal settlement applications from the Indian sub-continent were refused last year, he said. “Within that 5,500 there are quite a number of cases where there has been some sort of compulsion, where the couple have not met or are under 18,” Mr Sedwill told MPs.

The committee was also told that people who sponsored an applicant for a visa were not routinely interviewed by officials, despite growing concern within the Government about the issue of forced marriage.

Applicants are interviewed formally and have to answer between 50 and 100 questions.

Mr Sedwill said: “They [sponsors] don’t necessarily go through a formal process of interview. In all of those cases where a sponsor has let us know that forced marriage is an issue, the sponsor will be interviewed either by telephone or in person.

“It’s not an immigration interview, but they will be interviewed by consular staff or by the forced marriage unit in the UK in order to gather the information that allows us to make a decision.”

Meg Munn, a junior Foreign Office Minister, said that one reason why sponsors were not interviewed was because of the “sheer volume” of the situation. A total of 47,000 spouses entered Britain on settlement visas last year, including 17,000 from the Indian sub-continent.

Bob Russell, Liberal Democrat MP for Colchester, accused the Government of complacency. “I do not understand why the sponsor and the applicant cannot be interviewed to find out if the marriage is genuine or not,” he said.

Forced Marriage Unit’s phone number, to be called if you are worried that you or someone you know may be forced into marriage: 0207008 0151

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/article3621619.ece

The Emma Humphreys Memorial Prize is awarded each year to commemorate the life and work of Emma Humphreys who tragically died, aged 30, in 1998. Emma was a writer, campaigner and survivor of male violence who fought an historic struggle to overturn a murder conviction in 1995, supported by Justice for Women and other feminist campaigners. The annual prize of £1,000 is awarded to an individual woman who has, through writing or campaigning, raised awareness of violence against women and children.

Alongside the individual prize, the Emma Humphreys Memorial Prize judges choose the recipient of a group award, established to recognise the unsung work done by many women’s groups and organisations. This award, while it does not at this time carry any financial reward, marks the outstanding contribution of women’s organisations who work in this embattled area and whose creativity and resourcefulness have resulted in developments that combat the prevalence of male violence.

Criteria to consider in nominating a woman for the individual prize:

* The individual woman should be someone who, through writing or campaigning, has sought to raise awareness of violence against women and children

* While she may have done this work as part of her paid employment, the judges will give priority to those nominees whose campaigning or writing has clearly extended outside of the paid work environment, or been conducted on a voluntary basis

* Nominators should ensure that the supporting statement focuses on the achievements of the individual woman herself rather than describing the achievements of the project/organisation she works for

* Judges will give due consideration to the issue around which the individual woman has been working, and may prioritise a nomination that they deem to highlight a pressing political imperative for feminist campaigning in the present

* In completing the supporting statement, nominators should attempt to point out the particular and unique aspects of the work which is commended in the nomination; it is not necessary to provide a full biography

* Nominators should be confident that, should their nominee be awarded the prize, she would be willing to participate in some related media interviews or events, in discussion with the organisers of the Emma Humphreys Memorial Prize

Criteria to consider in nominating a women’s group or organisation for the group award:

* The group or organisation should have done important work in raising awareness of violence against women and children, and have sought to bring about change

* It would be helpful if the nominator could draw attention to any particular obstacles the group has encountered

* The nominator should try to give examples of any initiatives which best exemplify the resourcefulness of the group or organisation in carrying forward work which seeks to combat violence against women and children

* It would be helpful if the nominator could indicate, where possible, how effective certain strategies or developments adopted by the group have been in combating the prevalence of such violence

* The nominator should give a brief explanation of the funding status of the group, and how the award might be used to help assist the group in future

To download a nomination form go to http://www.emmahumphreys.org/nominations.html

Read about previous years’ winners at http://www.emmahumphreys.org/winners.html

In 2008 the fourteenth annual Carers Week will highlight the impact caring can have on your health and wellbeing. The results of this survey will be at the centre of Carers Week publicity and activity, and will be sent to Government and all national politicians, to healthcare professionals and others who have powers and responsibilities that can help to improve the health and quality of life of carers.

We want to hear about your experience of being a carer; the rewards and the frustrations, and the effects on your health. What are the implications for you, as well as for the person you care for?

Carers Week is organised by ten leading charities to support the UK’s six million carers. Last year over 1,000 local partners organised more than 6,000 events and activities; in 2008 we aim for the number to be even greater.

Our key aims are for Carers Week to:
* Highlight and celebrate the contribution made by carers
* Campaign for better support and services for carers
* Promote policies and best practice that can improve carers’ quality of life
* Reach out to ‘hidden’ carers, ensuring they know where to find help and support

This survey should only take a few minutes of your time to complete. Many thanks for your assistance, and for ensuring that carers voices are heard loud and clear.

To complete the survey go to http://www.carersweeksurvey.org.uk
—————————————————————

The previously announced closing date for the survey was Monday 31st March, but we plan to extend that by a few days, to the end of the week.

The results of the survey form the centrepiece of Carers Week. And the survey is a key tool in the work we carry out with the media, with MPs and with professionals, who can all have such an effect on carers’ lives. It’s not just ticking the boxes; the comments carers add also help to inform all the work we do.

We need to ensure that the survey is representative of carers from all parts of the UK so if you’re in touch with carers in your area please forward this message on to them.

http://www.carersweek.org

Outline of BBC Radio 4′s Law In Action – Tuesday 18 March 1600 GMT

Only 5.7% of rape complaints reported to the police result in a conviction. For many that’s a shocking figure.

Law In Action spoke to several women who had been raped, but whose attackers were not prosecuted. The reasons why their cases didn’t get to court were varied.

In two of the cases, the women were drugged, so had little memory of the events. In others, the attackers claimed their victims had consented.

Kirsty Brimelow, a criminal barrister, explains why prosecuting rape is different from prosecuting almost any other crime.

SARCs

Often one of the critical factors in prosecuting cases is the efficient collection of forensic scientific evidence.

There are twenty Sexual Assault Referral Centres (SARCs) across England and Wales, and the government is planning to open a further eighteen this year.

These are victim-centred facilities where complainants can get support and counselling. But crucially, they are also facilities where the doctors are trained to collect and preserve DNA evidence.

Linda Pressly visited one of the London SARCs.

Prosecution

In order to make the prosecution of rape cases more professional, the Crown Prosecution Service in London has recently appointed three specialist rape advocates.

The idea is that just one advocate will handle a case from the time a complaint is made, right through to appearing before a jury if the case goes to court.

Clive Coleman secured rare access to one of the advocates, Sarah Le Foe. He spent the morning with her as she is briefed by both the police and a colleague.

Juries

There is a good deal of argument about what more needs to be done to improve the system. Some argue that once a case gets to court there is not a significant problem with prosecutions, because over 50% of defendants are convicted.

But the government has concerns about what happens in court. The Solicitor General has recently set up a panel of experts to explore whether juries should be given more information about rape.

Dr Louise Ellison – who is on the panel – debates the issue with barrister, Anthony Heaton-Armstrong.

If you have thoughts on any of the topics we’ve covered, or any other legal issues, Law In Action would like to hear from you. You can contact us by email at lawinaction@bbc.co.uk or by post at Law in Action, BBC White City, Wood Lane, London W12 7TS or you can call us on 020 8752 5646.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/law_in_action/7302937.stm#

You can listen to the programme at http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio/aod/radio4_aod.shtml?radio4/lawinaction

The 24 week time limit for abortion is under threat

MPs and organisations who oppose abortion are going to use the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill currently going through parliament to try to stop women from having an abortion.

Their strategy is to attack the current time limit for abortion. They’ll try and pass laws slashing it from 24 weeks to 20.

But this is strongly opposed by all the main health organisations in the UK including fpa, the Royal College of Nursing, the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, the Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare, the British Association of Perinatal Medicine, Antenatal Results and Choices, Brook, Marie Stopes International and bpas.

After an exhaustive evaluation of women’s health and the survival of babies born under 24 weeks, the Science and Technology Select Committee also could not find any scientific evidence for reducing the time limit.

Why do women need an abortion after 20 weeks?

There are many reasons and they include:
* Problems with the woman’s pregnancy may only have just been identified.
* She may have encountered NHS delays stopping her being referred for an abortion.
* She may not have realised she was pregnant.
* She may have gone into denial about the pregnancy.
* She may be in a personal crisis, for example experiencing homelessness or unemployment or her partner might have left her.

But babies born between 20 and 24 weeks can live can’t they?

Sadly babies born this prematurely are too underdeveloped and fragile to cope with life outside the womb. Epicure, the large, most comprehenisve study of the survival of premature babies, shows that at:
* 20 weeks no babies survived
* at 22 weeks 2 per cent survived
* at 23 weeks only 11 per cent survived.

Women need time to make the right decision.

You can help us protect women’s right to choose

There are many easy things you can do that only take a few moments:
* Sign the petition http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/protecttheabortiontimelimit/ to keep the 24 week limit.
* Write to your MP and let them know that if they are pro-choice, they must support women having the right to an abortion up to 24 weeks. fpa has produced a sample letter http://www.fpa.org.uk/attachments/published/934/Sample%20letter%20to%20MP%20about%2024%20week%20time%20limit.doc setting out why we think the abortion time limit must remain at 24 weeks. Please feel free to use this and send it to your MP or as a basis to write your own letter. Find your MP http://findyourmp.parliament.uk/commons/l/ or write to them at House of Commons, London SW1A 0AA.
* Email our Women need 24 weeks for a reason postcard below to your MP, asking them to vote for the current time limit. Find your MP’s email http://findyourmp.parliament.uk/commons/l/. Please add this text to the email: I am concerned that the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill will be amended to reduce the time limit for abortion from 24 weeks. There are lots of reasons why the time limit must not be reduced:
- There is no scientific evidence that requires a reduction.
- Women have valid reasons for having later abortions, such as being delayed getting an appointment or late identification of problems in pregnancy.
- Women who have later abortions are often the most vulnerable such as young women or women in abusive relationships.
- Reducing the time limit will mean some women will have to rush their decision about whether or not to have an abortion.
Please vote to keep the 24 week time limit.
Remember to include your own name, address and postcode.
* Email our Women need 24 weeks for a reason postcard to family and friends.

Read the full text at http://www.fpa.org.uk/news/campaigns/current%5Fcampaigns/detail.cfm?contentid=930

The Sheila McKechnie Awards are an annual bursary scheme for emerging and grassroots campaigners. Campaigners are a powerful force for change in our society but we know that the reality is often hard work and a lot of frustration. Our awards have been created to equip campaigners with the skills that they need to be successful. We focus on the ingredients for campaigning success and seek to share them with campaigners across the United Kingdom.

See full details at original posting Sheila McKechnie Awards 2008 for emerging and grassrootscampaigners

Sexual Violence and Rape Crisis

The number of Rape Crisis-affiliated centres in England and Wales has nearly halved from 68 to 38 since 1984. We believe this is a failure of successive governments and in the coming weeks we will be mounting a campaign for proper funding for this vital service.

Sexual violence is a blight – the British Crime Survey suggests there are more than 300,000 rapes and serious sexual assaults each year. Most are not reported. One in four women have experience rape or attempted rape. One in seven women have been coerced into sex. Yet conviction rates have plummeted from 33% in the 1970s to around 5% now. This brings shame on us all. Rape Crisis have provided help for countless victims of sexual violence many of whom only come forward years after being attacked. As we will demonstrate here in the coming days, this is vital support and it needs proper funding. The Conservatives and Lib Dems are backing our campaign as are a number of key organisations such as End Violence Against Women and the Fawcett Society.

In the coming days we will publish articles on sexual violence from a number of contributors including Bea Campbell, Theresa May, Trevor Phillips, Professor Liz Kelly, Prof. Joanna Bourke and many more.

You can help too by adding your name to this Downing Street petition (http://petitions.pm.gov.uk/RapeCrisis/).

You could also write to your MP http://www.newstatesman.com/action

http://www.newstatesman.com/subjects/sexual-violence-and-rape-crisis

From here there are links to the following articles:

Men can stop rape
By Pat McGann and Steve Glaude 13 March 2008
The US organisation that aims to mobilise men to stop violence against women

Rape the forgotten issue
By Liz Kelly 12 March 2008
Despite the fact sexual violence affects one in four women the issue has all but disappeared from the political radar

Why I’m backing Rape Crisis
By Theresa May 11 March 2008
Conservative politician and shadow minister for women Theresa May explains why she thinks Rape Crisis centres are vital

Why this silence over rape?
By Beatrix Campbell 10 March 2008
It’s not the law on rape, it’s the culture from the police canteens, to the courts, juries, the pubs and kitchens. And why the eerie silence from ministers?

Rape myths past and present
By Joanna Bourke 10 March 2008
Popular prejudices estimate about half rape victims are lying, but research shows just 3% of rape allegations are false – yet another myth about sexual violence

How Rape Crisis helped me
By Constance McCullagh 10 March 2008
How one survivor of sexual abuse turned to Rape Crisis, how they helped her and how we all owe them a debt

Senior Met officer blames scepticism and inertia for low conviction rate

Police are contributing to the “appalling” conviction rate in rape cases because officers too often fail to take alleged victims seriously enough and settle for mediocrity in their inquiries, the senior policeman responsible for raising standards in rape investigations has told the Guardian.

The Metropolitan Police’s assistant commissioner John Yates said detectives don’t apply the same professionalism to rape as they do to other serious crimes. He blamed police for too often greeting complainants with scepticism and inertia, and said officers “must absolutely accept the victim’s version of events unless there are very substantial reasons to do otherwise”.

He added: “If you’ve just been through the horror of a rape and you’ve plucked up the courage to see the cops and the body language is sceptical, the voice is sceptical, what is that saying to you?

“First impressions count: is this person going to care for me; does the officer believe me?

Yates, who leads on rape for the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) and conducted the loans-for-peerages investigation, said: “We’ve got to get a better understanding of how victims react: don’t expect consistency, don’t expect victims to report right away, and don’t expect victims to scream and shout.”

Yates is trying to raise the professionalism of rape investigations to the same level as that in murder cases amid a strong concern about low levels of rape convictions that has prompted ministers to pledge to introduce reforms.

Proposals from the ministry of justice and the solicitor general, Vera Baird, include giving juries information to dispel rape “myths”.

Juries will be told that victims are often slow to report the attack to police and may appear surprisingly unemotional while in the witness box. Victims will also be allowed to substitute a videotaped interview with police for their initial evidence in court.

However, while these reforms concentrate on the court process, Yates has been urging improvements in investigations and police techniques.

He told the Guardian that standards had changed in murder and child protection cases in the light of the Stephen Lawrence and Victoria Climbié cases, but it should not take a tragic case to produce the same result for rape inquiries. “I can’t imagine anything more serious than this,” he said.

The investigation of murder cases had become specialised and officers were specially trained in CCTV, forensic recovery, family liaison and exhibit handling. “But in spite of some excellent advances in some police areas, rape is still seen in some areas as an omnicompetence to which you can turn your hand because you’re a detective.”

Police had made “enormous advances” in investigating rape. “But it’s still not good enough”, he said. “There are pockets of excellence but in many areas we have been satisfied with mediocrity. Victims absolutely deserve the proper professional caring service which is available in some parts of the country.”

Only 5.7% of rape cases reported to police lead to a conviction and research shows that attrition – or cases dropping out – happens at every stage from initial complaint to trial. But Yates said the biggest attrition rate was with the initial police investigation.

If inertia followed a complaint, “what was always going to be a difficult case can often become an impossible one”, he added. There was a “golden hour” after which key evidence would be lost if action was not taken quickly. “Most of the attrition and the best evidential opportunities occur in the first 48 hours, even the first hour.”

“There doesn’t have to be such an appalling conviction rate. We can do something about it,” Yates said. But it would take “energy, passion, commitment”.

A 2006 review of the handling of investigations by the police and Crown Prosecution Service inspectorates found that frontline officers had received “very little training in responding to rape offences” and few officers, including some specialists, were aware of ACPO guidance on recording early complaints from victims.

The inspectorates also found that early-evidence kits, for taking urine samples and mouth swabs before a medical examination takes place, were used on just over one-third of the occasions they could have been deployed.

He said every force in the country had had two visits from his team. “You’ve got to drive it down from the top to the bottom. It is a leadership issue. We need to have ambition around it. We need to up the game. We have a window at the moment when people appear to be suddenly ‘getting it’.

“We’re looking at every possibility to push the boundaries back. However, let’s concentrate and get the basics right. Cases are often lost when the first steps are not done properly, when the victim thinks the police didn’t believe her or inadequate attention is given to forensics.”

He said it was not possible at present in every area to come up to the standard set by the 20 sexual assault referral centres (SARCs) such as St Mary’s in Manchester or the Haven in London, which provide a holistic service for rape victims along with forensic excellence.

But every area could be encouraged to provide the basic necessities: to do all the medical tests and take all the samples needed, to provide female doctors and to arrange for an examination place where the forensics would be secure.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2008/mar/04/ukcrime.law


See also:
* The low conviction rate for rape http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2008/mar/05/ukcrime.law
* Question of consent makes rape by a friend or boyfriend harder to prove http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2008/mar/04/ukcrime.law1

Tomorrow is International Women’s Day, and to raise awareness of this important day, I shall be volunteering to go to jail on behalf of a very worthy cause: Cardiff Women’s Aid. (Marlene Shalton, Western Mail)

You may wonder why I should subject myself to such an “experience”, but the fact that I will be held captive until sufficient funds have been raised to release me means that I will not only be raising money for this worthwhile cause but saving tax for some of the donors too.

Cardiff Women’s Aid provides specialist support for women and their children who are survivors of domestic abuse in a professional, confidential and safe environment. They provide independent information and support, emergency temporary accommodation (refuge), outreach support and counselling.

Domestic abuse is a crime and many victims are unable to escape from their perpetrators due to lack of funding and emotional support. Cardiff Women’s Aid provides these specialist support services for women and children.

Gift Aid

If you pay tax in the UK, then Gift Aid is a simple way to increase the value of your gift to a charity. Making your donation using Gift Aid will enable the charity to reclaim the basic rate tax on your gift to them. This means that if you give £10 to charity using Gift Aid, that gift is worth £12.82 to the charity. You can make payments by cash, cheque, postal order, direct debit, standing order, debit or credit card or even in a foreign currency.

If you are a higher rate taxpayer, you can claim relief on the difference between the basic rate and higher rate of tax. If you do not pay tax, you should not use Gift Aid. You can still give the money to charity and not complete a Gift Aid declaration.

Example

During the tax year you give a total of £400 to various charities. With the basic rate at 22%, the amount of tax the charities can reclaim is £112.82. If you have paid tax totalling £112.82 or more then you can make the donations using Gift Aid, making your donation worth £512.82.

One declaration to HM Revenue & Customs will cover all the gifts you make to a charity for whatever period you wish. For example, it can cover gifts you might already have made to a particular charity since April 6, 2000 or it can cover the gifts you make in the future.

Gifts made jointly can also be declared, but you must tell the charity how much is from each of you and you will both need to give declarations. In addition, those who may be entitled to Age Allowance can also reduce their tax by gifting. The gross amount of any Gift Aid donations reduces the level of income when calculating any entitlement to the age-related personal allowance or married couple’s allowance. If you are aged over 65, or (for the married couple’s allowance) you or your spouse were born before 6 April 1935, it is important that you enter details of your Gift Aid payments on your tax return.

It is not too late to make donations before the end of the financial year and claim tax for 2007/08.

For those who wish to see me released from jail, so I can continue with my column, please send cheques, payable to “Cardiff Women’s Aid” to Chambers Morgan James, Freepost SWC4705, Cardiff, CF5 2GY.

http://icwales.icnetwork.co.uk/business-in-wales/business-columnists/2008/03/05/why-i-m-going-behind-bars-for-women-s-aid-91466-20557597/

Sheila McKechnie Awards 2008

The Sheila McKechnie Awards are an annual bursary scheme for emerging and grassroots campaigners. Campaigners are a powerful force for change in our society but we know that the reality is often hard work and a lot of frustration. Our awards have been created to equip campaigners with the skills that they need to be successful. We focus on the ingredients for campaigning success and seek to share them with campaigners across the United Kingdom.

In 2008 we will be making 12 awards across key fields of social action http://www.sheilamckechnie.org.uk/showSub.php?id=55&page=3. Categories in 2008 have been sponsored by the following organisations / individuals.
* Conflict Resolution sponsored by Peace Direct
* Consumer Action sponsored by Which?
* Economic Justice sponsored by Joseph Rowntree Foundation / Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust
* Environment sponsored by Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation
* Global Action in memory of Guy Hughes
* Health & Social Care sponsored by Age Concern
* International Award sponsored by Concern Worldwide
* London Social Justice sponsored by City Parochial Foundation
* Shout Out! Award sponsored by City Bridge Trust
* Social Inclusion sponsored by Shelter
* Transport sponsored by Simon Norton
* Young Activist sponsored by Foyer Federation / YMCA England

The package of support we offer is completely bespoke to the individual, comprising an initial assessment; one-to-one coaching and mentoring sessions; development workshops; and shadowing opportunities http://www.sheilamckechnie.org.uk/showSubSub.php?id=59&page=3&last=87.

The awards do not offer cash prizes but focus on sharing the key ingredients for campaigning success by drawing on the expertise of experienced campaigners and using a model of action learning to share knowledge and acquire skills.

Who are the Awards for?

The awards scheme has been developed specifically for campaigners new to the field or operating with very little resources to equip them with the skills they need to make a greater impact and achieve real change.

The awards are for people who want to make a greater impact with their campaigns, whether it be to change policy or raise their issue’s profile at a local, national or international level. You could be working as a campaigner in a national pressure group or campaigning charity or you may be working alone or in an organisation where campaigning is a very new activity. The awards can also help you if you are campaigning on a voluntary basis in your spare time. Many of our award winners have been volunteers and we have helped them secure new resources to support their campaigns and focus on how they can use their limited time to best effect. (In the last 2 years, we have awarded 49 beneficiaries of which 34 have been women)

What will I learn?

The awards can help develop a campaign strategy, examine the impact that you have made so far or consider how your can build support for campaigning activity in your wider organisation. You will get direct advice from people who have a track record of running successful campaigns and others who have a strong insight into how policymakers approach key decisions.

The awards are also a chance for you to learn new skills & tactics. For example, you might have a lot of experience in media work but not know about the tactics necessary to influence ministers in Whitehall. You might want to expand your skills in specialist areas, such as understanding the campaigning opportunities present in the Freedom of Information Act. The awards are also a chance to get an independent assessment of your campaign, considering areas like how you can expand your alliances and identify how much progress you have made towards achieving your objectives.

The awards can help you get a better understanding of how government works. For example, previous award winners recieved public affairs coaching from experts at AS Biss & Co and were given the opportunity to shadow ministers relevant to their campaign.

The awards will put you in contact with campaigners who share similar challenges to you but work in other sectors. We recognise that there are many opportunities to work together across issues and sectors and discuss challenges and successes.

The awards provide opportunities for you to develop skills that are relevant not simply to the campaign you are working on now but to campaigns that you may work on in future.

What’s the time commitment involved?

The programme runs over a period of 6 months. However, because the awards programme is bespoke to each campaigner, the support package is very flexible to your needs and timescale will be determined in consultation with you.

http://www.sheilamckechnie.org.uk/showSub.php?id=87&page=3

Applications for the Foundation’s awards scheme can be made by downloading a form from the http://www.sheilamckechnie.org.uk/awards or by emailing awards@sheilamckechnie.org.uk

APPPLICATIONS CLOSE 5PM, 14 MARCH 2008

(Originally posted at http://freecharity.org.uk/pipermail/womeninlondontraining/2008-March/date.html)

1,001 children and young people accommodated in refuges
49% of children in a refuge witnessed domestic violence
10% of children in a refuge on at risk register
41% of children in a refuge had been abused themselves

Statistics for Wales, 2006-2007. Source: Welsh Women’s Aid

Imagine a childhood where you constantly live in fear of your father hitting your mother. You might lie on your bed hiding your head under the pillow, pretending you can’t hear the violence taking place. You eventually walk downstairs and see your father beating your mother and are screamed at to get back to your room.

For one Welsh schoolgirl, who talked about her experiences as part of a BBC Wales project on domestic abuse, this was harsh reality. The girl, who is now 13 and doesn’t want to be identified, said: “That’s the only time he would hit her was when we were upstairs. “As soon as we came down, he’d still be hitting her, but he’d scream at us to get back upstairs.

“I used to go to my bed because that’s where I felt safe. When I was in my bed snuggled under the blanket with my head under the pillow, I couldn’t hear any of it, hiding away from it all really.” She said her mother eventually decided to leave her father after one particularly horrific attack with a knife. “All you could hear downstairs was my mum choking because her tongue was swollen. I ran downstairs, and you could just see my dad with the knife in his hand with blood on it. He could have killed her. She said enough was enough and she left him.”

Cheryl Martin of the charity Welsh Women’s Aid said she hoped BBC Wales’s “In The Frame” internet project, where domestic abuse victims recorded themselves talking about their experiences, helped offer people an insight into the problem. She said: “Children and young people feel ashamed and very guilty about what is happening at home. We hope that this young girl talking about her experiences will encourage other children to talk to someone if they are experiencing domestic abuse at home.”

The teenager’s mother got in touch with Welsh Women’s Aid, which helps families that have suffered domestic abuse, and the charity helped the family rebuild their lives. She said: “I have load of flashbacks about what used to happen. It wasn’t very nice, but it’s all over now. That’s what I’m glad about really. It’s better really, life is for me now. I hope I have a nice family, a good career. Basically what everyone hopes for, peace in their life.”

The Wales domestic abuse helpline is 0808 80 10 800.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/wales/7247345.stm





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