A service providing vital support to ethnic minority women and girls at risk of violence has been given a lifeline in the form of £500,000 funding, to continue its work over three years.
Workers at Rotherham-based Apna Haq are delighted that they are now able to develop their service further, giving appropriate support as early as possible to girls and women in danger of, or experiencing issues such as sexual violence, child abuse, forced marriage, honour based violence and trafficking.
The Lottery cash injection will further the My Rights campaign, its holistic approach also seeking to change community attitudes and beliefs that foster violence against women and girls. It will fund the work of a project manager, an admin worker and five bilingual advocacy workers.
Chief executive Zlakha Ahmed said: “The Big Lotteries funding couldn’t have come at a better time. Without this funding we would have had to close our doors after 22 years of operation.
“Many women and girls from black and ethnic minority communities would have been left with no avenues for support, resulting in them having no choice but to continue living in violent and abusive situations.
“ Given the heightened levels of racism and Islamaphobia that are having a detrimental impact on our communities and further compounding issues, we are ecstatic with being awarded £500,000 in order to continue our work.”
She continued: “ Big Lottery funding will enable us to strengthen our organisation and build on local delivery, allowing us to carry out prevention work and provide practical and holistic support to the lives of black and ethnic minority women and girls who have experienced violence and abuse, and work towards their empowerment and recovery”.
Service users have quoted Apna Haq as being the ‘fourth emergency service’, and ‘a life line in times of crises’.
Sarah Champion MP is a long standing supporter of Apna Haq. She said: “For over 20 years, Apna Haq has provided a vital service in Rotherham. I have seen first-hand the crucial work they do and their dedication to ending violence against women and girls. Its organisation makes it uniquely equipped to assist vulnerable BME women and girls.”
She continued: “Ninety per cent of Apna Haq’s board are service users and all are women from local BME communities. This enables vulnerable women to access a service made up of people from their own communities and leads to a unique sense of trust between the service and its users.
“Domestic violence services are in crisis, with a third of all referrals to refuges turned away due to lack of space. Since 2010, we have lost 17 per cent of specialist refuges in England and services for BME women have been hit the hardest.
“Every woman has the right to safety; specialist services like Apna Haq provide that essential lifeline to so many women and their children at a moment in which they face significant harm from a violent partner or ex-partner.
“Apna Haq’s team are highly committed and I hope this funding will allow them to go from strength to strength”.
Councillor Taiba Yasseen added “‘Great news for Rotherham and Apna Haq, the Lottery Funding will ensure the future of equalities and justice for women’s agenda, especially for ethnic minority women continues, which was originally pioneered by Apna Haq in Rotherham. Very proud that this funding will secure the legacy of this important work supporting the rights of women. ‘