Tag: newsletter

Savera UK CEO Afrah Qassim reflects on 2021 as “a small but mighty organisation”

Savera UK founder and CEO Afrah Qassim

“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.

Watch survivor stories from Savera UK clients (1200 x 150 px)

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.”

Afrah Qassim

Founder & CEO  

Afrah Qassim founder of Savera UK

“Together we will never be defeated”

In this quarter of our newsletter, I want to focus on the importance of collaboration within and outside of the organisation.

Afrah Qassim founder of Savera UK
Afrah Qassim, CEO of Savera UK, talks about the importance of collaboration in our Autumn newsletter

My grandmother always used to say to us growing up ‘Mun Taawanu Ma Ghlibu’ in her village dialect, which means ‘together we will never be defeated’. This has always guided me in the importance of working together, and continues to do so.

Savera UK wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for many people working together, sharing our skills, passion, commitment, knowledge and experience so we could become a leading organisation tackling ‘honour’-based abuse and harmful practices, while bringing together communities to celebrate diversity and culture.

Therefore, within Savera UK we have and continue to, create a workplace culture and environment that is centred on shared learning and development. This helps bring us together to share opinions and feedback, as well as to gain skills, knowledge and experience. Having a safe space to share and be heard can only be a strength and opens new ways of communication and opportunities to deliver the organisation’s vision and mission.

Savera UK is extremely grateful to all the partners and collaborators we have worked with and continue to develop across all areas. Together we have achieved so much and created a central conversation within Merseyside on the hidden causes of ‘honour’-based abuse and harmful practices. We continue to speak out and work together towards eradicating these horrific practices from our communities locally, nationally and internationally, by providing a lifesaving support service to those at risk or under threat of ‘honour’-based abuse and harmful practices.

There is one partnership I am so thankful for that will always remain with me as the moment I realised we were successful. In 2016 The Big Lottery (Violence against Women and Girls Initiative) awarded us our first ever three years of funding and we got chosen from over 500 applicants. At the time I wasn’t sure for how much longer we could continue work on a voluntary basis, especially as demand continued to grow around developing a support service. Receiving the news of us being successful was overwhelming and I could not contain my tears of joy. To finally think someone believed in us and saw the potential of Savera UK! This funding did not just allow us to recruit and develop our 1-1 support service, but helped us step up towards our next stage and opened up many opportunities.

I want to thank every single organisation and individual who collaborated and worked with us. We are always eager to collaborate. Together we can achieve the impossible.

Afrah Qassim

CEO & Founder