Following the article published in The Independent on Saturday we feel it is important to comment on the allegations. As a charity of this size we will come under scrutiny and acknowledge there are always improvements we can make. Solace is committed to intersectional feminism and is anti-racist in its practices.
Solace does not expect to be immune from criticism, but such criticism should be founded on evidence, and fair. The Independent had not notified us prior to publication and we had not seen the open letter that is now linked in the article. We strongly refute the allegations made in the article and have committed to publicly addressing the concerns in the open letter.
Solace takes all complaints of discrimination in any form seriously and they are all thoroughly investigated, with independent investigators where appropriate. The serious allegations reported by the Independent had previously been raised with Solace’s Board. We appointed independent investigators who reported directly to the Board and, after extensive investigations in recent months, the investigations have concluded they have not found any evidence of systemic racism or bullying or that there was any breach of data protection.
The Board, CEO and Executive Team provide strong leadership and oversight and are committed to living and upholding Solace’s values and principles. We recognise that embedding and ensuring anti-racist and anti-oppressive practice takes time and Solace will need to continuously challenge ourselves to improve alongside wider society. This is one of the key principles of the organisation’s strategy.
In light of our internal review and Black Lives Matter, we created the first iteration of our new Equality, Diversity and Inclusion action plan last summer, and steps were taken immediately to implement the actions such as appointing a Head of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, a commitment to an ethnicity pay gap report and to review our HR policies and procedures.
Solace’s work is inclusive, intersectional and feminist in approach and we will continue to take active steps to be an anti-racist organisation. We must keep listening to and learning from women with lived experience, and work with them to improve our organisation. We are committed to continuing to help thousands of women and girls who are the victims of domestic, sexual and associated abuse.
We work to support vulnerable women and children and provide them with highly specialist support and places of safety. Our invaluable and substantive work saves the lives of women every day. At a time where we know that domestic abuse has increased we are working harder than ever to support communities affected by violence against women and girls. We know that to fulfil our mission and purpose we must ensure that our staff feel safe and supported at work. We will work together to continue listening, learning and investing in our Equity, Diversity and Inclusion journey with our staff, service users and volunteers.
We acknowledge that there may be some members of staff who feel differently to us about the allegations made in this article. Our refutation of the specific allegations made in the article do not undermine our commitment to creating an equitable workplace, workforce and service. We are committed to continuing our journey in this area and acknowledge that there will always be improvements that can be made. We will continue to work with all staff to this end as their voices and the voices of our service users and volunteers are central to us as an organisation.
Solace is a leading specialist VAWG charity in the UK, with over 45 years’ experience working with survivors of Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG). We deliver eight core multi-disciplinary empowering services that support women and children from the moment of crisis to recovery and independence. We offer ongoing support to survivors, helping them to rebuild their lives through advice, advocacy and support. We also provide safe refuge and move-on accommodation to women and children made homeless through VAWG. Our 1-1 counselling, group work and specialist holistic therapies help survivors recover after experiencing traumatic abuse. Our rape crisis service offers a range of services to women and girls 13+ who have experienced any form of sexual violence at any time in their lives. Our Children and Young People’s (CYP) team delivers a range of services, including prevention work, for families and young people living in the community. Through our national training courses and consultancy, we help other organisations to improve their response to VAWG.
On behalf of Solace’s Board of Trustee, Chief Executive and Executive Team.
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