Tag: University of Liverpool

Savera UK Volunteers Macy and Krinal

Meet Savera UK Volunteers Macy and Krinal

This Volunteers Week, Savera UK is highlighting the generosity of those who give up their free time to join the organisation in working towards its mission of ending ‘honour’-based abuse (HBA) and harmful practices.

We spoke to Savera UK volunteers Macy and Krinal to discuss their experience at the charity and what they enjoy about volunteering.

Hi! Please tell us a bit about you.

Hi, I am Krinal! I am a MSc Investigative & Forensic Psychology student at University of Liverpool. I enjoy watching true crime documentaries and shows and it’s almost a year since I have moved to Liverpool from India.

Hi, I’m Macy, I have a first class degree in Forensic Psychology which I did at Leeds University. I also have experience in research, collecting data and report writing and aspire for a career in mental health. I am currently working in the food & hospitality industry.

Why did you choose to volunteer for Savera UK?

Krinal: As someone who comes from a culture and country that has witnessed a lot of cases of ‘honour’-based abuse (HBA), the work that Savera UK does resonated with me. It does such good work to help those who are facing HBA, which most people are unaware of or do not know how to help. I wanted to contribute and help empower those at risk in the safe space they are provided at Savera UK.

Macy: I chose to volunteer at Savera UK because I am passionate about supporting human rights, particularly women’s rights. As Savera UK safeguards and advocates on behalf of many women of colour I thought this would be very fitting for me. I also wanted to get some experience working in a setting that helps people with their mental health.

How long have you been a volunteer with the organisation, and how often do you volunteer?

Krinal: I have been volunteering for two to three weeks at Savera UK now and I volunteer once a week three to four hours.

Macy: I have been a volunteer for just over a month and I volunteer for a couple of hours a week, usually on a Friday.

What does your role involve?

Krinal: My role mainly involves supporting clients with recreational activities or learning activities that they are interested in to help support their interests. It also involves supervised training for interventions with survivors of HBA.

Macy: I assist in running client led sessions. We do fun activities such as go to the park, go to the museum, dance classes and watching films. I also help keep the client spaces tidy and bring the clients refreshments.

What has been the best part about volunteering with Savera UK so far?

Krinal: I think it is seeing clients be so happy and feeling a sense of happiness myself. Plus, Savera UK staff are probably the best colleagues I could have asked for. They are all so supportive and welcoming – you feel like it is a second home.

Macy: I feel I have made really positive relationships with some of the clients and I really enjoy the sessions.

What have you learnt since becoming a volunteer for Savera UK?

Krinal: I have a long way to go before I am truly well-versed in helping and intervening with survivors, but I think it is how I am more sensitive and attuned to how to behave and converse with them that does not involve sympathy but just care. I have also learned about supervising the activities.

Macy: I have learned a lot about harmful practices and ‘honour’-based abuse. I have also learned about different cultural practices including food and religious celebrations.

Do you think others should apply to volunteer with Savera UK?

Krinal: Yes. Anyone who is interested in helping end ‘honour’-based abuse or even just helping those at risk receive support should apply to volunteer with Savera UK because their work is meaningful, and it impacts so many women’s lives. It is an enriching experience.

Macy: I definitely think others should apply to volunteer for Savera UK because I feel I am gaining a lot of experience and it is a really rewarding role, especially after a good session with the clients. All the staff are really friendly and it is a great environment to be in.

Thank you Macy and Krinal, we’re so pleased to have you as part of the team! Are you interested in becoming a volunteer at Savera UK? Apply to become a volunteer here.

A title image which reads 'Savera UK study reveals core elements of 'honour'-based abuse in the UK

Savera UK study reveals core elements of ‘honour’-based abuse in the UK

Emotional/psychological abuse and coercive control has been identified as the most common characteristic of ‘honour’-based abuse (HBA) and harmful practices, in new research conducted by the University of Liverpool and Savera UK.

The research ‘Honour’-based abuse: A descriptive study of survivor, perpetrator, and abuse characteristics[1], published last month in the Journal of Investigative Psychology and Offender Profiling, examines survivor, perpetrator, and abuse characteristics in anonymised cases of HBA and harmful practices such as forced marriage and female genital mutilation (FGM), provided by Savera UK.

Much information on HBA currently available is based on self-reporting and exploration of individuals’ lived experience, meaning baseline data to help better understand the issues is limited. The study was instigated by Savera UK to fill this gap, working in partnership with the University of Liverpool and using the charity’s own data to identify base rates of survivor, perpetrator, and abuse characteristics.

Of 66 abuse characteristics identified by researchers, the study highlighted that a case of HBA would usually present with around 14 of these characteristics.

Emotional/psychological abuse and coercive control, specific family cultural traditions, gender-based socialisation and physical violence were found to be present in 90% of coded cases, suggesting these to be core elements of HBA in the UK.

Abuse characteristics associated with survivors that are usually highly linked to cases of HBA, such as exploration of identity or sexuality, were present less frequently than expected. For example, premarital sex, which features highly in literature about HBA based on self-reported data and survivor stories, was only present in 20 cases.

This study was able to explore broader and subtler forms of abuse, as the data reflected not only survivor experiences, but also the professional judgement of Savera UK support staff specialising in this field.

It also highlighted overlaps between HBA and domestic abuse, as well as clear separating markers, such as the presence of multiple perpetrators, specific family cultural traditions and community influencing the perpetrator(s).

In its examination of survivor characteristics, the study found that almost half (41.4%) held UK citizenship, 27.8% asylum seekers and 18.1% had limited or indefinite leave to remain. The majority were Muslim (74.8%) but Christianity was the second most prevalent religion among survivors with (14.2%).

Almost two thirds of cases had multiple perpetrators (63.1%) and all involved male perpetrators, with additional female perpetrators in 36.4% of cases. However, no cases involved a sole female perpetrators.

Speaking of Savera UK’s first-ever research paper, Afrah Qassim, CEO and Founder of the charity, said: “The lack of data around HBA and harmful practices has always been a challenge for organisations like Savera UK that support survivors and those at risk.

“When we established the charity in 2010 many local authorities told us there was no need for our service because there was no data indicating that HBA was an issue. Since then we have worked to uncover these hidden practices and demand for our service has increased by more than 1,000 per cent between 2016 and 2022.”

“This baseline data is vitally important and a starting point to allow better understanding of the prevalence of different abuse characteristics and improved insight into HBA in the UK. This information will help frontline workers like police officers and social workers to more easily identify and support survivors and those at risk, develop specialist HBA risk assessment tools, improve prevention strategies and inform where further research is urgently needed to help tackle these issues.”

Professor Louise Almond, from the University of Liverpool, said: “This base rate study highlights the wide range of abuse suffered by ‘honour’-based abuse survivors. What was most surprising was the low prevalence of characteristics that have been previously linked with ‘honour’ based abuse in Western media. Our study reflects a potentially different “reality” for these survivors, one which is more nuanced than maybe the public and/or statutory agencies realise”

To read the full paper visit: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/jip.1602

[1]  K.Ridley, L.Almond, N.Bafouni, A.Qassim (2022) ‘Honour’-based abuse: A descriptive study of survivor, perpetrator, and abuse characteristics, Journal of Investigative Psychology and Offender Profiling https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/jip.1602

Savera UK responds to latest Home Office data on ‘honour’-based abuse offences

The Home Office today released the latest data on ‘honour’-based abuse (HBA) offences in England and Wales for 2021 – 2022. In the year ending March 2022, there were 2,887 HBA-related offences recorded by the police in England and Wales, an increase of 6 per cent compared with the year ending March 2021 (when there were 2,725 offences).

This marks a second consecutive rise in HBA related offences and of the 2,887 HBA offences recorded, 77 were cases of female genital mutilation (FGM) and 141 were forced marriage offences.

Speaking of the latest data, Savera UK CEO and Founder, Afrah Qassim, said: “Although the 6 per cent increase in HBA related offences is less than last year’s 18 per cent rise, it is still concerning. Not only is any increase in offences that constitute an abuse of human rights unacceptable, we also believe that these figures still only reveal the tip of the iceberg.

“The true prevalence of HBA and harmful practices in the UK are unknown due to the limited data recorded, which makes it very difficult to understand the scale of the problem. While the data from the Home Office is useful, there is still no central database that specialist organisations tackling HBA and harmful practices – like Savera UK – can contribute to, so we know there are gaps in the data.

“Greater awareness of the issues, the ability for police and professionals to identify and deal with them appropriately and greater confidence amongst individuals to reach out for help are all positive developments, but if we don’t have a true understanding of the scale of the problem, how can we know the impact and what more needs to be done?

“The mandatory reporting system introduced by the Home Office in 2019 by its own definition provides information that is defined as ‘experimental’ because of gaps in the data and other compounding factors. For example, although the Domestic Abuse Act 2021 was in many ways a triumph, strengthening legislation around controlling or coercive behaviour, it does not include ‘honour’ crimes as part of the legislation, meaning that perpetrators can only be prosecuted for the specific crimes committed, such as coercive control, harassment, and stalking. This means that the voices of those at risk of HBA may go unheard by law enforcement and unrecorded in Home Office data.

“We were interested to see that 17 per cent of HBA-related offences were for controlling and coercive behaviour, mirroring our findings in research undertaken in partnership with the University of Liverpool, which showed that Emotional/psychological abuse and coercive control was the most common characteristic of ‘honour’-based abuse (HBA) and harmful practices among our clients. Having more robust baseline data like this will help specialist organisations like us and frontline workers like police officers and social workers to more easily identify and support survivors and those at risk, develop specialist HBA risk assessment tools, improve prevention strategies and inform where further research is urgently needed to help tackle these issues.

“Over the same time period as these latest Home Office figures (to year ending March 2022) Savera UK received 136 new referrals concerned with HBA, in effect almost 5% of the national recorded total. That is not to say that Merseyside and the North West have a higher prevalence of HBA-related offences, rather it reflects the work that has been done historically in the region around HBA, the establishment of clear safeguarding and referral processes involving police, healthcare and other professionals and voluntary sector organisations and this in part is due to our role as a respected and effective specialist in ‘honour’-based abuse and harmful practices.

“Year-on-year we are continuing to see an increase in referrals from professionals and individuals and the demand for our service continues to grow. Yet specific focus and funding to support survivors and those at risk, and to tackle the specific issues of HBA and harmful practices is woefully lacking.”