Student Spotlight

Student spotlight: Anushka, Social and Political Science Student

For two weeks in December 2022 Savera UK’s Communications and Campaigns Team was joined by Social and Political Science Student Anushka Swannell.

Anushka is a passionate activist dedicated to working towards the prevention of sexual violence. She is particularly interested in how policy can facilitate this work.

Anushka applied to take part in a student placement with Savera UK in order to learn more about ‘honour’-based abuse (HBA) and how a grassroots organisation makes an impact nationally. You can learn more about Anushka’s experience in the below interview.

Thank you for your hard work and dedication Anushka!

How did you first hear about Savera UK?

In April 2021, Afrah [Qassim, Savera UK CEO and Founder] kindly spoke as a panel member at the University of York Labour (UYLC) Conference event on ‘Intersectionality Matters: Women’s Panel on the Impact of Covid-19’. At the time I was the Gender Liberation officer at UYLC and was utterly inspired by Savera UK’s work and its commitment to helping survivors whilst being dedicated to tackling ‘honour’-based abuse nationally. Since this event, I was truly inspired and have never forgotten about Savera UK. It has been awe-inspiring to be able to help the team over the last two weeks.

What has your day-to-day role been like?

Savera UK has been extremely accommodating to me and has given me so many exciting tasks to help its campaigns and outreach. Throughout the student placement, I have been involved in researching contacts to help propel the outreach of the media guidelines campaign. Additionally, I have helped with social media including posts about Human Rights Day post and the 5k To End HBA campaign. The campaign, engagement and communications team have also been kind enough to let me sit in meetings regarding branding and communications within Savera UK.

Of all your tasks, which has been your favourite?

My favourite task has been researching policy and legislation – with Savera UK’s brand, values and objectives in mind – and sharing my recommendations with the team.

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

The client drop-in was an amazing experience and was incredibly eye-opening, however, I do think the most challenging aspect is knowing that Savera UK’s clients’ have struggled with HBA and/or harmful practices. That said, meeting clients was extraordinary and really highlighted the motivations behind wanting to have a student placement at Savera UK.

What has been aspect of the role that has surprised you the most?

What has truly surprised me the most, is that the Savera UK team have given me tasks and projects to do during the placement which will contribute to their campaigns, work and progress. I am so grateful for this opportunity to actually do some tangible work that will be used as this is not mirrored a lot of time in other placements/ work experience. Additionally, the placement has left me feeling empowered, inspired and ready to help survivors through the public sector. This has genuinely taken me by surprise and is invaluable to me.

Did your placement at Savera UK live up to the expectations you had before starting?

Honestly, I did not have any expectations of what the placement would be like at Savera UK. Nevertheless, the placement has given me so much excitement, skills and work experience in a charity. The placement has gone above and beyond, I am really grateful to the entire team.

What will be your main takeaway following your placement with us?

The major takeaway I will take from the student placement is that there are truly wonderful people in this world making a difference in survivors’ lives and it is not all bleak. The Savera UK team have truly inspired me to get stuck in, in policy to further help survivors. Additionally, it has taught me that my goals and ambitions are not too far away from being destinations. The placement has taught me that real change is happening and is happening now and I am hoping to be part of that change.

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

I think the biggest challenge cannot be put down to one, so I think it is three-fold. Firstly, it is the incoherence of HBA and harmful practices within government, legislation, local government, social workers, social care, police, emergency services and education/ training. Secondly, it is the damaging stereotypes around HBA and harmful practices that are stunting progress. Lastly, I think it is the lack of awareness and education around HBA and harmful practices. Although these are huge challenges, these are challenges that can be overcome and I know that Savera UK is determined to defeat these challenges.

How can this be overcome?

I think the ways this can be overcome are below:

  1.  Legitimate policy and legislation that sets out a coherent definition of HBA and harmful practices
  2. This definition will be embedded into professional practice and training for emergency services and social and support workers/services as well as medical professionals. This training should be mandatory
  3. Education for secondary and primary school children, which Savera UK has begun with the creation of an education pack for secondary school students. This could be standardised and compulsory within RSE.
  4. Education statutory guidance needs to be stricter on the implementation of this policy and training goes hand in hand with this.
  5. Campaigns, raising awareness, education, and community work will help to alleviate the harmful stereotypes

I am aware that a lot needs to be done but I think this is achievable. I think Savera UK has the resilience, fire and expertise to deliver these outcomes and I would love to be a part of that as much as possible. I cannot wait to see what Savera UK achieves in 2023.

What are your plans for the future?

The Savera UK student placement has motivated me to delay doing a masters degree and go straight into NGO and charity work post graduating with my undergraduate degree. On the way home from the placement, I will be drafting my applications for the Houses of Parliament graduate scheme and the Charity Works graduate scheme.

My ambition is to work in policy to prevent sexual violence through compulsory consent education and training as well as emergency services training on definitions around consent and coercion.

One day I would love to come back to Savera UK and help as much as I can to end ‘honour’-based abuse. I hope to apply for Savera UK’s Youth Advisory Board to start this journey with Savera UK.

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

I enjoyed meeting Savera UK’s team the most and also helping the team with possible policy opportunities as this aligns with my ambitions and passions the most.

Genuinely would like to thank the entire team for welcoming me to well into the team and could not be more grateful for the experience.

Thank you for your incredibly kind words Anushka, it has been wonderful having you as part of the team and we wish you all the best in your future!