A message from our Chair and Chief Executive

For all of our service users and staff, as well as society as a whole, this has been a challenging year. As the COVID pandemic progressed and the first lockdown continued for months, women and children became even more isolated and increasingly unsafe.

Many women were at home with their children and their abuser and had no means to leave and get help. Others were once again confined, this time in their own home or in prison with no contact or support networks. Poverty and inequality made a difficult situation even worse, leaving many homeless and without essentials, and digital exclusion meant that they were unable to get vital help. Women became increasingly anxious and suffered mental ill health; as a result, we saw an increase in self-harm incidents and, sadly, in the number of deaths of women by suicide and overdoses.

Despite the lockdowns and restrictions, our dedicated and passionate team of domestic abuse advocates, community outreach workers, children and young people specialists and peer mentors developed innovative and safe ways of providing access to support and advocacy, offering a lifeline for women and children. Whilst working remotely from home, or in the community when possible, we found solutions to continue our support groups and mentoring online, rather than at our women centres. We adapted our services that were co-located in statutory setting such as the police, hospitals and clinics, children’s services and probation offices, to respond to the needs of, and improve the outcomes for, the most vulnerable and marginalised women and children in our community.

We could not have done this without the support from both existing and many new partners; from foundations and trusts to companies and individuals, who were able to provide funds, expertise and their time. Thank you.

Special thanks go to our amazing staff. No one was immune from the effects of the pandemic. Yet despite many personal challenges, our teams worked relentlessly to make sure the needs of the women and children we serve were met.

As a result, we were able to develop new services and extend our support for longer periods of time than ever before. We expanded our domestic abuse services into health settings in the community and more children’s services in West London. We extended our London Diversion Service for women at point of arrest across North and South London and our Minerva services across twenty-nine London boroughs.

We reached out to over 8,000 women and children directly during the year with positive impact.

It was vital that women and girls with lived experiences were not silenced during the pandemic and that we continued to raise awareness of the impact of abuse on all aspects of their lives. We launched our new website in May 2020 and the ‘I am with her’ campaign, sharing the stories of five domestic abuse survivors through new social media platforms. We launched new research reports such as ‘A space to talk about relationships’ in September 2020 and the ADVANCETALK series of ‘Talk about abuse’ events.

We worked with Government and others, at local and national level, to share practice-based evidence and 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.

Women and children survived and thrived against often impossible odds, inspiring us with their strength and resilience. Our team and Board of Trustees at Advance, supporters and partners are more committed than ever to our vision of a world where women and girls can lead safe, violence free and equal lives.

Christine Losecaat MBE
Chair

Niki Scordi
Chief Executive Officer

Our board of trustees

Dr Carole Easton OBE

Dr Carole Easton OBE

Chair of the Finance, Fundraising and Business Development Sub Committee
Emily Midwood

Emily Midwood

Chair of Governance, Risk and Human Resources Sub Committee

Our ambassadors and supporters

Our executive team

Niki Scordi

Niki Scordi

Chief Executive Officer
Melissa Altman

Melissa Altman

Director of VAWG Services
Dr Summer Alston-Smith

Dr Summer Alston-Smith

Director of Criminal Justice Services
Kim Halliday

Kim Halliday

Director of Finance and Business Services
Shade Odupelu

Shade Odupelu

Director of Organisational Development and Human Resources
Chandni Radia

Chandni Radia

Director of Development

Our partners