Author: megangelder

Two award nominations for Direct Intervention team

Savera UK’s Direct Intervention team has been nominated for two prestigious awards, recognising their work helping survivors and people at risk of ‘honour’-based abuse and harmful practices.

The team has been nominated for the BBC Merseyside: Make A Difference award, which shines a light on people who go above and beyond in their local communities. 

This achievement recognises the work that the team does to safeguard and advocate for some of the most vulnerable of our society – helping them out of abusive environments and into their new beginnings. 

Finalists will be revealed in the summer and winners announced at a ceremony in September.

Direct Intervention team coordinator, Merfat, has also been named a finalist in the Merseyside Women of the Year Awards 2024. Merfat leads the team with passion and tenacity. 

Last year alone, together, they helped 178 clients, responded to 495 calls to the helpline and spent 2,292 hours working to safeguard those experiencing HBA and harmful practices.

You can vote for Merfat to be this year’s Merseyside Woman of the Year 2024 until Sunday 2nd June 2024:

Student Spotlight: Krinal, Masters in Investigative & Forensic Psychology Student

Our ‘Student Spotlight’ feature usually highlights the experience of Social Work students who join us for a placement within our Direct Intervention team. However, we also offer volunteering opportunities to students from a wider range of disciplines who are interested in learning more about ‘honour’-based abuse (HBA) and harmful practices, alongside their studies.

This month, we spoke to Krinal, a Masters in Investigative & Forensic Psychology student from the University of Liverpool, who volunteered with us this year.

Hi Krinal, can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

“I volunteered at Savera UK for nine months, helping out with weekly client activities while utilising the experience from the ‘honour’-based abuse specialists to understand how to correctly respond to HBA and harmful practices. I have since completed my Master’s degree in Investigative and Forensic Psychology from the University of Liverpool and I am passionate about learning about gender-based violence, criminal behaviour and cyber-crime.”

How did you first hear about Savera UK?

“I first heard about the organisation when Afrah, Savera UK CEO and founder, visited my university for a seminar, informing us about ‘honour’-based abuse (HBA) and harmful practices. It was an eye-opening reminder that HBA is a deeply under-researched and a less understood topic by most people.”

How did you spend your time at Savera UK?

“I assisted with client activities every Friday where I built relationships with survivors of HBA and facilitated those events supervised by my volunteer coordinator , Reihana. I also would regularly observe the weekly case reviews held by the Direct Intervention team and will be taking away the knowledge I gained into my future roles.”

Of all your tasks, which has been your favourite?

“My favourite aspect was  having involvement with planning of client activities for each month. We always tried to make these sessions engaging and something that the clients would enjoy so it was interesting getting together and thinking of what we could do next to improve their health and wellbeing.”

What were some of the more challenging aspects of the role?

“Personally, it was ensuring that I was  always providing a safe space for survivors by building a working relationship with them. Since I didn’t know their personal journeys with HBA and harmful practices, it was even more crucial that I was sensitive and showed them empathy to build a trusting bond.”

What do you think is the biggest challenge for charities helping  those at risk of harmful practices?

“In my opinion, it would be the lack of awareness and understanding about what HBA and harmful practices actually looks like. Especially because this lack of awareness can  make it less likely for professionals to recognise the signs of this particular type of abuse.

“Not fully understanding the importance of specific interventions that are needed, ultimately has a direct effect on funding and many organisations already don’t have the resources needed to help survivors and those at risk. All of these reduce the chances of adequate help for those at risk of HBA and harmful practices.”

What do you think needs to be done to resolve that?

“I think the first step would be to raise awareness and educate the general population about what HBA and harmful practices can look like. It’s important to also educate professionals that work alongside survivors and those at risk. HBA and harmful practices are not specific to a certain culture or religion and differ from case to case.

“Through my experience with Savera UK, I found that it can be extremely difficult to combat HBA if the professionals involved have limited knowledge. HBA and harmful practices are often complex and require multi-agency advocacy and education. I think Savera UK is doing a brilliant job in addressing these issues by providing training sessions and raising awareness through campaigns and workshops.”

What’s the most valuable thing you’ve learnt during your time volunteering with Savera UK?

“For me, it was realising the importance of qualified specialists of HBA for survivors and those at risk. Informed knowledge is vital when creating a safe space for clients. Most of them haven’t had that luxury so sometimes just providing that makes a huge difference. The experience has further developed my interpersonal skills and empathy.”

What did you enjoy the most about your time at Savera UK?

“Definitely interacting with the clients, finding out about their week and developing a relationship with them will always be a memory I cherish. Each one of them has had a difficult journey but seeing them happy and together because of these sessions has been a delight.”

“If you are interested or passionate about learning more about what honour-based abuse and harmful practices are and working to end them, I would highly recommend Savera UK!”

What are your plans for the future?

“For now, it’s working with survivors of sexual abuse as a Multiple Disadvantage ISVA and hopefully empowering more women who have endured so much.

Thank you Krinal for all your hard work and best of luck with your future endeavours!

Savera UK’s volunteering programme is open to all UK-based volunteers, no matter how much time you have to give and whatever your experience may be. If you are interested in volunteering visit our volunteer page to find out more, or complete our volunteer form.