A safe, just and equal world for women

Bear Montique OBE

Bear Montique has been at the forefront of developing women’s services supporting domestic abuse survivors in London and is one of the two founders of Advance, its first employee and leader.

She headed Advance for 10 years continually expanding and building its services to survivors.

Bear was born in Ireland and came to the UK in the early 60’s. She started work in the sector as a therapist, moving into refuge work in Hammersmith where, in the first partnership with police, she started the first borough outreach project for survivors.

Inspired by the Duluth model of working, Bear alongside other activists brought the model to Hammersmith and created the first UK coordinated response for survivors.

Bear took the pilot advocacy project and developed it into an independent charity, Advance, in November 1998 to provide services to domestic abuse women survivors working closely with the Police, Criminal Justice agencies, A&E and Housing, based initially near our current centre in Hammersmith.

She also developed a training package for advocates that was used as the basis of what we know today as the professional accreditation.

She was recognised for her work with survivors and Advance by receiving the 2008 Justice Award. Bear says “Survivor’s experiences are your ongoing learning. Make time to listen and let them know their voice has been heard”.

“I always made sure we had a sofa in the offices. I will never forget a woman who came to us one morning who was 8 months pregnant and had spent the night on the circle line just going around, as she was too scared to go home. I gave her breakfast and our sofa to sleep on for the morning before providing any other support. It taught me the importance of having comfortable space for women”.

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