Tag: Cheshire PCC

Savera UK CEO and Founder Afrah Qassim, and Police and Crime Commissioner for Cheshire, John Dwyer

Savera UK and Cheshire PCC conference and vigil to remember ‘honour’ killing of Shafilea Ahmed

Savera UK, a leading charity working to end ‘honour’-based abuse (HBA) and harmful practices, will join forces with Police and Crime Commissioner for Cheshire, John Dwyer, on Wednesday 12th July to remember Warrington teenager Shafilea Ahmed, who was murdered by her parents in an ‘honour’ killing 20 years ago.

Shafilea was murdered in the lounge of her family home in Great Sankey, Warrington, on September 11, 2003, for refusing a forced marriage and becoming ‘too westernised’, in the eyes of her family and some members within her community.

The Day of Memory is held each year on July 14th – Shafilea’s birthday – and is intended to remember those lost to ‘honour’ killings and HBA. The day also aims to continue to raise awareness of often ‘hidden’ culturally specific forms of abuse and other harmful practices, including female genital mutilation (FGM), forced/child marriage, virginity testing, breast ironing and conversion practices.

The event will be delivered with Police and Crime Commissioner for Cheshire, John

Savera UK CEO and Founder Afrah Qassim, and Police and Crime Commissioner for Cheshire, John Dwyer
Savera UK CEO and Founder Afrah Qassim, and Police and Crime Commissioner for Cheshire, John Dwyer

Dwyer, as part of its ongoing partnership. Earlier this year the Commissioner secured more than £321,000 of additional funding to help those at risk of ‘honour’-based abuse (HBA) in Cheshire, enabling him to enhance his partnership with Savera UK to address and raise awareness of HBA and harmful practices.

A conference will take place at Warrington Town Hall in the morning (10am), with a panel of esteemed guests discussing the issues of HBA and harmful practices, the challenges faced by professionals working with those at risk and the work being done to end these practices.

Speakers include Afrah Qassim, CEO and Founder of Savera UK, John Dwyer, Cheshire PCC, Jaswant Narwal, CPS, Chief Crown Prosecutor, Thames & Chiltern and lead on forced marriage, female genital mutilation (FGM) and ‘honour’-based abuse (HBA), Superintendent Jon Betts, and Saliha Rashid and Khatra Paterson, both survivor ambassadors for Savera UK. The discussion will be hosted by Aislinn O’Dwyer, Savera UK Chair and Chair of East Cheshire NHS Trust and there will be a Q&A session for attendees.

Following the discussion’s conclusion (12:45pm), a short vigil and ribbon-tying ceremony will take place at the Golden Gates, with drumming and poetry performances, before a minute’s silence will be held in memory of Shafilea and all those lost in the name of ‘honour’.

Savera UK’s team will be sharing information with the public after the vigil, alongside Cheshire PCC’s ‘Safer Streets’ team and representatives from the Crown Prosecution Service.

Afrah Qassim said: “It is 20 years this year since Shafilea’s life was taken from her, simply for wanting to make her own choices in life. There is no ‘honour’ in this behaviour and no excuse for abuse.

“Although progress has been made over the past two decades, there are an estimated 12 – 15 ‘honour’ killings in the UK each year and tens of thousands more are harmed due to HBA and harmful practice. There is still limited public and professional awareness about HBA and harmful practices and how they can affect anyone regardless of ethnicity, background, gender identity or sexuality.

“These abuses are still happening here in the UK, and it is our collective responsibility to stop them. Our partnership with Cheshire PCC allows us to share our knowledge and skills with professionals in Cheshire and provide life-saving direct intervention services to survivors and those at risk. Together we will end these practices for good.”

John Dwyer, Police & Crime Commissioner for Cheshire, said: “I’m really pleased to be working closely with Savera UK to find and support the hidden victims of HBA in Cheshire. There is no excuse for abuse, and nobody should be in fear for their life just because they are trying to live their full potential.

“Bringing partners together at this event is a great way to refocus our work to root out and stamp out HBA. The best way we can honour Shafilea’s memory is to redouble our efforts to prevent the kind of abuse which she suffered.”

Jaswant Narwal from the Crown Prosecution Service said: “We want to support victims of this unacceptable violence; both honour-based abuse and forced marriage are illegal, and where our legal test is met, we will not hesitate to prosecute.”

Register for this event here.

Cheshire PCC Partnership

Savera UK extends service with funding from Cheshire PCC

Savera UK has been awarded funding from Police and Crime Commissioner for Cheshire, John Dwyer, to extend its service into the region and to help end ‘honour’-based abuse (HBA) and harmful practices in Cheshire.

More than £321,000 has been awarded to Savera UK by the PCC through a successful application for the Government’s Domestic Abuse Perpetrator Interventions Fund. The funds will allow for training of professionals when spotting the signs of HBA and harmful practices and will equip them with the right tools when working with those at risk.

Through the funding Savera UK’s Direct Intervention Team will grow and the charity will work to build new partnerships with organisations in Cheshire in order to raise awareness among professionals and communities.

John Dwyer, PCC for Cheshire, said: “I am delighted to secure this funding and that the partnership with Savera UK is growing. Educating and empowering practitioners to spot the signs of HBA and respond appropriately and confidently to those at risk is extremely important.

“By raising awareness of HBA and harmful practices, we can help to break the taboo around the subject, providing support for people who feel there may be no other way out.

“In my Police and Crime Plan, I make clear my commitment to helping those who have a greater risk of becoming a victim of crime. I believe this enhancement of the project being delivered by Savera UK will help safeguard and support survivors and help them to continue with their lives.”

Afrah Qassim, Founder and CEO of Savera UK, said: “I would like to thank the Police and Crime Commissioner for this opportunity to grow our relationship, supporting the development and delivery of Savera UK’s specialist services within in Cheshire. Since 2016 the charity has delivered one-to-one safeguarding and advocacy to those at risk and survivors of HBA and harmful practices, while campaigning to end these violations of human rights for good.

“Misconceptions about HBA and harmful practices can put those experiencing these types of abuse at further risk, both directly and indirectly. We have seen first-hand how professionals working closely with those at risk can be unaware of the level of danger.

“Our specialist team works tirelessly to challenge decisions which risk putting survivors in further danger.

“It’s through these experiences we know how vital education is in ending HBA and harmful practices for good. Through delivering education and training sessions in Cheshire thanks to this funding, we will raise awareness among professionals, young people and the general public to help safeguard those at risk.

“Focusing our work in Cheshire, knowing we will be able to reach more people at risk and raise further awareness is an exciting prospect and helps us continue to work towards our vision of a world without HBA and harmful practices.”

To learn about ‘honour’-based abuse and harmful practices, visit the Savera UK Learning Hub. 

If you are at risk, or if you are a professional in need of advice, you can call Savera UK’s specialist helpline on 0800 107 0726 (operates 10am – 4pm). Always call 999 if you are in immediate danger.

Referral forms for individuals and professionals are available here.