A message from our Chair and Chief Executive
These have been particularly challenging and worrying times for the women and children we support, as well as for our colleagues and partners, as the Covid-19 pandemic began at the start of 2020 and the end of this reporting period.
With social distancing and lockdown in place, women and children were even more isolated and faced additional barriers to support. Women and children being abused were locked down at home, often with their abuser, becoming increasingly unsafe and unable to leave or to get help. Many were released from prison with nowhere to go and with no health or financial support. Poverty and digital inequality made a difficult and unsafe situation even more so. Women and their families lacked essentials such as food, clothing, hygiene items and medication, and had no phones nor access to wi-fi to contact Advance and other services for help throughout the crisis.
Because of the dedication and determination of our team at Advance, we were able to adapt our life-saving and life-changing services quickly and without disruption. Our values of listening, empowerment, innovation, collaboration and accountability were at the centre of Advance’s response. Whist working remotely from home, we ensured women and children were able to call our helplines and receive one-to-one holistic and tailored support, both practical and emotional, by our domestic abuse advocates, outreach community workers and children and young people specialists. We developed innovative solutions to continue our support groups and mentoring online, rather than at our women centres. Guided by our founding principle of partnership working through a coordinated community response, we worked even more closely with our voluntary and statutory partners, to respond to the needs of and improve the outcomes for the most vulnerable and marginalised women and children in our community.
As the country came together during this crisis, we were joined by many more, from foundations and trusts, to companies and individuals, who donated funds, expertise, essential packages and their time; we thank you all.
During the course of the year, we were able to secure existing and new funding to not only continue our current support, but to reach more women and children through new services. We expanded our domestic abuse services into Ealing and increased our specialist support for young women across Central and West London. We launched the London Diversion Service for women at point of arrest in North and South London and extended our housing support for domestic abuse survivors in the community. We reached out to over 6,000 women and children during the year with positive impact.
We continued to amplify the voices of women and girls with lived experiences through press and social media and share our best-practice approaches to services that respond to their needs. Advance launched the Whole Justice Approach to improve outcomes for domestic abuse survivors through the criminal justice system in November 2019. In March 2020 we launched the research report, ‘A Place To Go Like This’, about mothers in contact with the criminal justice system who are also domestic abuse survivors, aiming to end intergenerational harm.
As the Domestic Abuse Bill makes its way through Parliament and probation services are being reformed, we continue to work with Government and others, at local and national level, sharing our practice-based evidence and impact with policy-makers to highlight the need for vital specialist community-based services for survivors and for those caught in the criminal justice system, in a whole-systems approach.
Every day we are inspired by those we support, their strength and resilience against often impossible odds. Our team and Board of Trustees at Advance and our supporters and partners are more determined than ever and passionately committed to our vision of a world where women and girls can lead safe, violence-free and equal lives.
Christine Losecaat MBE
Chief Executive Officer