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CEO: Welcome to our Rosh Hashanah 2017 Newsletter!

18 September 2017

Shana Tovah

Welcome to our newsletter, I would like to start by wishing you a very Happy Rosh Hashanah.

It has been a busy few months at Jewish Women’s Aid with some interesting developments over the last few months within the Violence against Women and Girls (VAWG) sector.  I was delighted to hear the Queen prioritise the announcement of a Draft Domestic Violence and Abuse Bill. This shows a renewed commitment from the Government to tackle domestic abuse which remains a huge problem across the breadth of society, including of course the Jewish community.

What does the Bill mean for Jewish women? 

Just 7% of Jewish Women’s Aid’s funding comes from statutory sources, a reduction of over 20% in recent years.  Through the support of the community and loyal donors, we have been able to survive cuts and postcode lotteries – a hard task, given the sustained 70% rise in referrals over the last 18 months.  We hope that the new bill will provide the VAWG sector with much needed resources to help women leave abusive relationships and access therapeutic services. As I am writing this I am reminded of Amanda, a woman we recently spoke to who’d been in an physically and mentally abusive marriage for 25 years, and who told us ‘she’d just had enough’ – her adult children had all moved on, and she was, at last, free to make the decision to leave.  She’d felt both perceived and real pressure from her children, family and friends to stay with her abusive husband.

This is a story that we hear every day.

We know that women are typically affected by domestic abuse 35 times before they seek help and in my experience, Jewish women are still living with abuse for even longer. I do think that the hard work we’ve done in engaging the community, shuls, leaders, rabbis and rebbetzens has started to pay off, and that women who need us are beginning to find it less daunting to pick up the phone and make that call which is the first step to a life free from abuse.

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In other news, we are delighted that Prime Minister Theresa May recognised the impact our Safer Dating project had had in the first year. The project works with 16- 25 years olds delivering vital workshops on consent, healthy and respectful relationships, safety advice and toxic masculinity. We have had positive responses from young adults who attend the workshops who describe it as a safe place where they can explore issues and now word of this amazing project has spread all the way to No.10!

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On a similar but slightly different note I had the pleasure of attending a Rosh Hashanah reception at No.10 and was encouraged by the ongoing support of the government to the Jewish community. A government that understands the community will only further help tackle issues that we face including the barriers faced by Jewish Women experiencing domestic abuse.

As the Jewish New Year approaches I am conscious that we have many goals that we need to achieve in order to eradicate violence against women in the Jewish community but I am optimistic that with your continued support and commitment we can tackle domestic abuse in your area.

 

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