Tag: Ngunan Adamu

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  

Ngunan Adamu teaches Savera UK clients how to share their stories during a training session

Savera UK clients learn how to share their stories with BBC Radio Merseyside producer

Ngunan Adamu teaches Savera UK clients how to share their stories during a training session
Ngunan Adamu teaches clients how to share their stories

At Savera UK, we work to empower survivors of ‘honour’-based abuse, forced marriage, female genital mutilation and other harmful practices. By doing so we aren’t just building up confidence, but also encouraging them to help us raise awareness.

As part of our campaign to #SpeakOut, BBC Radio Merseyside producer and presenter Ngunan Adamu provided training sessions for our clients who felt ready to learn about sharing their stories. Across two sessions, Ngunan, who is also the founder and CEO of iWoman Academy, spoke to Savera UK clients about the power of sharing stories, what journalists look for and how to write a press release.

Speaking about the training Ngunan said: “The aim of the session was methods in owning your voice, be confident in telling your story and having a knowledge of how the media industry works especially when dealing with journalists.”

Ngunan did this by asking clients what their story was, discussing story plot lines and narratives and by asking how they can be confident in recording their story.

During the first session, Ngunan asked clients about a story they remembered and the reasons why they remembered it. We learnt that emotion, relevance and timing were all important in creating a newsworthy story. Clients learnt how to connect with an audience and were asked to write their own stories ready for the next session.

Ngunan Adamu teaches Savera UK clients how to share their stories during a training session

The following day Ngunan discussed their stories with the clients and talked about how to capture people’s attention, the best way to build a story and how to tell your story in a way that suits you. Our clients recorded their own stories to get used to saying them out loud, an exercise that some found difficult but important to do.

Asked what her highlight of the training was, Ngunan said: “I loved how engaged the participants were, they took part in every part of the session, even when it was hard for them to tell their story.”

She said they responded well to the training and “acknowledged how hard it was for them to tell their story” but said it “felt like it was like therapy”.

Ngunan added: “And I learnt from them, it was a reciprocal experience.”

One Savera UK client said: “During the workshop, it was amazing to see participants’ stories take form, especially to witness their impact double as Ngunan helped us tell them more effectively.

“I wasn’t sure what to expect when I went in. After all, how could a two-day workshop help me lift the writers’ block that I have carried around for nearly half a decade? But somewhere in the middle of our exercises or getting answers to some longstanding questions, something clicked.

“I can already feel blog posts and articles bubbling in my head. I haven’t felt this way in a long, long time.”

You can see a series of animations of the client stories that emerged from this training here.

Thank you to Ngunan, and to the Small Change Fund and the Lloyds Bank Foundation who funded this training and helped amplify the voices of Savera UK clients.