For the last 16 years I have led an organisation that is exceptional in terms of its impact, its mission and its values. We are now seeking an exceptional woman to join us as my successor.
When I joined Solace I brought with me a wealth of experience from working across the women’s sector and from my time as a Solicitor specialising in criminal and family law. I was ignited by what I saw was deliberate silence surrounding the violence and abuse that profoundly affects the lives of so many women and children in our communities. It was my mission to make sure that we built services that supported women from the time they reported all the way through to recovering and building strong, independent lives.
I know the next woman who leads us will be able to build on our solid foundations
She will be a committed feminist who is passionate about ending violence against women and girls and has a clear vision to achieve that. She will understand how power relationships operate within society and bring an intersectional perspective to ensure we are able provide the right support to our very many different service users. It is vital that our leader understands the systems that mitigate against women being able to report and live free from violence. We still live in a culture which attempts to silence women’s experiences and so need to have strong supportive systems in place to enable our many voices to be heard.
“You have to lead on values, not just on process.”
I am proud that we are an organisation that lives by its values. We don’t just state our commitment, we truly attempt to incorporate them into every aspect of our work. Women come to us because they trust us and we must be able to deliver with confidence the confidential, non-judgemental and robust service that they need to move forward with their lives. Our staff come and work for us because they are choosing to work in an intersectional feminist organisation that understands and supports them.
Sometimes a service user comes back to us and says ‘Solace changed my life’. These are the moments I am so moved by and proud of.
It is my hope that our next Chief Executive will continue our tradition of combining kindness with strength, empathy with structure. Small acts of kindness can go a long way in a sector that is emotionally fraught where the challenges are great. If you can practice kindness with confidence based on experience and not on arrogance, if you can truly listen to all perspectives and then make clear decisions, you will be the leader this organisation deserves.
I am so very humbled by the determination to work for other women so that their lives are better.
I am proud of our strong staff team. I can’t talk highly enough about the women who daily give so much of themselves to make a difference. It is a great source of pride that our employees tell us that they feel heard, that they are part of a culture that uplifts them. It brings me joy to see service users returning to us as Ambassadors and as volunteers; that volunteers become staff members who then in turn become Solace’s managers.
In 50 years it is my hope that Solace will not be needed anymore, that violence against women and girls will no longer be rooted in our communities, cultures and institutions. If we must still be here, I hope that we will maintain our grassroots, values-led spirit that listens to staff and service users and uses our resources to support them best. I hope that we will continue to build on our work to create better support systems for women and children escaping violence and abuse. We must change the perception of these issues as solely through a criminal justice lens and instead focus much more widely on the impact on lives and how we respond to survivors. We must pay more attention to children and young people who have survived abuse and give them the opportunity to move beyond the abuse they have experienced to live strong independent lives.
I know the woman who leads us next will have the vision and drive beyond what I have imagined here. I look forward to meeting her.
To find out more about the role of Chief Executive please contact our advising consultants Joanna Thornton (0207 426 3972) or Rebecca O’Connor (020 7426 3373) and visit https://www.gatenbysanderson.com/job/GSe44039.1/chief-executive-officer-30