In March, Savera UK marked International Women’s Day by holding a celebratory lunch for our amazing clients, who continually overcome hurdles in the face of adversity and are testament themselves of how we can #BreakTheBias caused by gender inequality.
While Savera UK supports people of all genders, the majority of our clients are women, which is why it’s important for us to celebrate International Women’s Day and the strides that continue to be made to eliminate harmful practices and gender-based abuse.
To celebrate the day, Savera UK brought together the women we support for a Middle Eastern banquet where we celebrated their strengths, while looking towards a brighter future for all women.
Speaking about the lunch, one Savera UK client said: “I enjoyed that I was able to meet together with other women who are from diverse backgrounds and to watch how they felt happy with the gathering.” She also added: “I felt honoured for being valued on that day.”
Savera UK support worker Emma said: “It is important to remember how fantastic women are and to celebrate our strengths on a day like International Women’s Day.
“It counters the narrative that many of our clients have been led to believe within their communities, which can hold misogynistic and harmful attitudes towards women. It is great to help them build their confidence and see their strengths that have often been overlooked or even shamed.”
Describing the atmosphere at the lunch, Emma said: “it felt like a celebration, it was lovely, united and positive” adding that it was “very rewarding to be able to offer some normality” and “made all the preparation worth it”.
Unfortunately social work student Taylor, who helped organise the event was unable to attend, but we would like to thank her for her work in bringing together the event.
Today (Tuesday 8th March 2022) is International Women’s Day and this year’s theme, #BreakTheBias, calls on people globally to strive for a “gender equal world” that is “free of bias, stereotypes, and discrimination” and where “difference is valued and celebrated”.
Although anyone can be at risk of harmful practices – and Savera UK supports survivors of all genders – it is important to highlight on International Women’s Day the majority of people that we support are women. Those at risk of harmful practices face bias and discrimination in their own homes and communities and even in finding and accessing services, due to a lack of understanding around culturally-specific abuse, which often means the signs can be missed.
This International Women’s Day, the team at Savera UK pledges to continue to #BreakTheBias by raising awareness of the issues, challenging harmful stereotypes around these issues and supporting and advocating for survivors and those at risk of harmful practices.
We still have a long way to go to tackle gender inequality and as long as gender inequality exists, so too will gender-based violence and abuse. If we work together to eradicate this, more women will be free to exercise their human rights, and have the opportunity to thrive and achieve their full potential.
“It feels like a long time since we celebrated the end of 2021 and welcomed 2022. Already we have lots to look forward to and I hope it’s the same for you. I want to take this opportunity to reflect on Savera UK’s 2021, including our achievements and obstacles. The beginning of 2021 brought new challenges from the outset, as the team were forced to work from home as a result of lockdown restrictions. Originally we thought we would be able to work from the office, but the lockdown forced us to pack up and organise homeworking in just one day after the Christmas holiday. At the time this news felt unbearable and to be honest I am not sure how I managed to keep calm and resilient, however we were able to support the team and ensure Savera UK continued to operate at its best regardless.
The challenges continued throughout the year with changes in staffing, recruitment and the increase of service demand while at one point operating with just a team of three. Despite the obstacles, the Savera UK team continued with business as usual.
Overcoming challenges and achieving our goals only happens when you have a strong team with excellent communication and more importantly the passion and commitment that the Savera UK team shows.
They never gave up and we supported one another to ensure our clients were given the best service. The organisation is fortunate enough to have a Chair and Board that continues to support us and guide me and the team every step of the way. As the CEO and founder of the organisation I am extremely grateful and proud of the team and the Board. As a small, but mighty organisation together we have highlighted ‘honour’-based abuse and harmful practices and made groundbreaking advances in how these cases are managed, including creating protocols here in Merseyside.
I want to thank our team from the bottom of my heart. I also want to thank our funders, fundraisers and supporters in championing us and the work we do, we wouldn’t have come this far without you.
We achieved so much last year, but there are a few highlights from 2021 I want to share. Savera UK released its first Impact Report, which will now be delivered on an annual basis. Between June 2020 and June 2021 we reached over a 1,000 individuals via training and awareness and supported over 140 individuals that at risk of ‘honour’-based abuse and harmful practices. This may seem small to some, but to us it’s a huge change in seeing those at risk feel safe to come forward for help and support and to know that services finally understand the risk and call it to what it is. There is still a long way to go, but we have made an extraordinary change here in Merseyside and hope to achieve more here and other areas in the future.
While supporting clients Savera UK also delivered a number of events, including one developed and led by Savera UK Youth, who for the first time put together a Community Panel ‘Question Time’ style event. This came in the wake of the murder of Sarah Everard and a rise in violence and abuse against women. Savera UK Youth felt they needed to see what our communities and faith leaders were doing to doing to address the issue and how they were working towards eradicating violence and abuse. All questions raised at the panel were sourced from young people.
Savera UK has always strived to make International Women’s Day special and bring women from all backgrounds together with activities and partnerships. In 2021 unfortunately we weren’t able to host in-person events, but instead marked the day with a women only online event. The day was a great success with over 70 women from local communities attending. Alongside the event we created a community booklet magazine using the 2021 International Women’s Day them of ‘Choose to Challenge’, in which women from the community to wrote about their everyday activism. The booklet also shared recipes written by Savera UK clients to encourage families to discuss activism while bonding over the creation of a delicious dish.
Last year Savera UK launched the ‘One Chance Rule’ video, explaining the belief that there could only be one chance to save a life when a disclosure is made, and the importance to act on that. We also launched survivor videos after working with BBC Radio Producer Ngunan Adamu, who held sessions with our clients and encouraged them to bravely share their stories of what it’s like to be a survivor of ‘honour’-based abuse (HBA) as part of our ‘Orange the World’ campaign.
This is just a snapshot of the work Savera UK achieved in 2021, there is lots more information on our website which details all of our events, blogs and reports. We are so excited to see what 2022 will bring and where Savera UK be this time next year.
For now I want to thank you all again for your continuing support and championing our work and we welcome all the new supporters and partners to work together to keep this agenda moving and continue to break the silence.
Do speak out and challenge attitudes that consider harmful practices as their culture or norms to practice.”