A UNited Sisterhood

By Nimat Jaffer

The global 16 Days of Activism campaign calls for actions to increase awareness and galvanise advocacy efforts to tackle gender-based violence. Our £3m Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) Grassroots Fund, developed by the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC) funds over 50 projects through 41 diverse organisations – all of which are seeking to tackle, prevent and raise awareness of this issue.

To mark the occasion, our VAWG Programme Manager reflects on how this sisterhood of organisations is uniting to share knowledge and innovation to achieve their shared aims, so that we can continuously learn and develop, together.

Network together

The VAWG Grassroots Fund was designed to support organisations on a richer level with a dedicated VAWG Programme Manager and a Capacity Building Programme to aid peer networking, organisational development and wellbeing.

We continue to benefit from the flexible support, solidarity and fantastic peer learning sessions offered by LCF.
The Maya Centre

We work closely with our delivery partner, The Social Innovation Partnership to ensure that the Capacity Building Programme is continually co-designed with the cohort. These 41 specialist organisations drive the range of topics covered, which includes social media strategies, bid writing, effective campaigning and more, bringing them together in a meaningful way.

A connection with other charities helps us learn together and understand our joint struggles from a different perspective. There has been a real sense of shared learning.
Nour DV

This collaborative approach not only creates networking opportunities, but also allows us to understand the development needs of organisations tackling violence against women and girls. This, in turn, supports their sustainable growth.

Work together

Another of the many benefits of this networking is the opportunity for collaboration on active projects, like the joint self-defence classes run by Faith Regen Foundation and Action Breaks Silence.

Faith Regen Foundation offers bilingual counselling and wrap around support services to meet the holistic needs of Bangladeshi women and girls in East London. As part of their funded project, they wanted to extend their offer to include fitness sessions, especially in self-defence. Through the support of this fund, they were introduced to fellow grantee Action Breaks Silence – a frontline prevention educational charity, whose aim is to create a world where women and girls can live their lives free from male violence. They take a youth peer-to-peer mentorship approach through a Train the Trainer Programme and various schools’ programmes, which aim to tackle sexual harassment and sexual violence in youth relationships.

I am a warrior!
Mahjabin and Fahmida, self-defence class attendees

These two organisations swiftly united under their shared values of empowerment for gender equality, delivering evidence-based services and the respect of one another’s expertise.

Watch this video to see their collaboration in action and enjoy the high energy and laughter from warriors!

Develop together

One of the key aims with this fund was the fostering of partnerships, especially with smaller local charities and community groups who applied for the fund jointly with another specialist organisation.

Take for instance, Kurdish Middle Eastern Women’s Organisation (KMEWO) and Foundation for Women's Health Research and Development (FORWARD UK), who deliver their projects in partnership with 3 other local charities and community groups.

KMEWO kindly shared with us how their delivery partnership works in practice and how they have, subsequently, enhanced their specialist services for marginalised women of Kurdish and Middle Eastern origin across four London boroughs: Barnet, Hackney, Haringey and Westminster.

“KMEWO as a lead partner ensure that partners can share learning and feedback. We also provide capacity building support, including sharing key practices, monitoring tools and advice around managing counselling services with our partner.

Our partnership has strengthened, we work flexibly to meet specific demands of service users, often language support needs and the different types of activities women want to access. We also take on specific geographical areas, so we have benefitted from internal referrals between the partnership.

We’re planning co-production of training for professionals, to utilise shared knowledge and specialties of harmful practices and issues for LGBTQ+ and virginity testing and polygamy issues.”

We recognise that mainstream services aren’t always best placed to support women and girls experiencing multiple disadvantage. By supporting funded delivery partners like KMEWO, we can champion the expertise that grassroots organisations hold.

Learn together

At The London Community Foundation, we are passionate about the power of London’s grassroots and recognise the value of organisations working in specific communities, often with lived experience of the issues they seek to tackle.

The organisations in this cohort specialise in delivering culturally informed services to women and girls with intersectional needs, and it is important to us that we accentuate the expertise they hold by sharing what we, as a funder on behalf of MOPAC, are learning from them. In this way, we can support them to increase awareness, galvanise collaboration and support fundraising efforts.

We most recently shared our learnings in a blog article highlighting how the cost-of-living crisis is increasing the risk of violence and poverty for women and girls. These insights have helped us fundraise for the Together for London cost-of-living appeal, which will provide emergency funding to groups supporting marginalised communities most impacted by the crisis, providing wellbeing assistance and essential items, such as food.

Our VAWG Programme Manager also regularly shares our learnings with fellow funders, by sitting as an Advisor on the New Philanthropy Capital (NPC) Open Philanthropy Programme, which seeks to create an inclusive funding process to tackle existing power imbalances. The MOPAC VAWG Grassroots Fund allows us to share positive practices on grantee co-design and inclusion, and being part of #NPCOpen enables further learning across our programmes.

Whether you work directly in the violence against women and girls space or not, by uniting to work, develop and learn from one another – together – we can seek to increase knowledge of the issues that gender-based violence presents and improve how these issues can be tackled in practice.

Together we can tackle inequalities. Together we are warriors. Together we UNite.