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Women working together to help each other: from co-chair Hilda Worth

27 August 2015

It is nearly a year since I took over as co-chair of Jewish Women’s Aid with Liz Gould. During that time I have been privileged to witness the commitment to JWA from the staff, volunteers and board members.

I was first introduced to JWA 9 years ago when I attended their annual fundraising lunch. At that point I was looking for a new challenge, and having been a teacher, I was asked to become an education volunteer. This involvement at grass roots level really highlighted to me the need to raise awareness of domestic violence. Working with the next generation and talking to them about healthy relationships, seemed to be an obvious method of working towards eliminating domestic abuse.

As I realised the importance of the work that JWA did, over the next few years I became more involved in the organisation. I chaired the newly formed Campaign Group, which launched our ongoing ‘toilet-door campaign’ and our successful ‘Call yourself a Mensch’ campaign.
I was appointed to the board and then chaired the annual fundraising lunch for four years. Having worked closely with Liz for most of that time, year ago, we became co-chairs of JWA.

The wonderful aspect about working for JWA is that it is tremendously empowering for women. We really are a fantastic example of women working together to help each other. I passionately believe in the work that JWA does, not only supporting the women and children who need us, but also raising awareness for domestic abuse is an issue in the Jewish community too.

Many people I speak to are still surprised that there is a need in the community for JWA. Each section of the community thinks that it happens to the other, and finds it hard to acknowledge that this is an issue in every part of the community. It is only by talking about it and teaching our children that we can all work together to break down this taboo.

The past year has been tremendously fulfilling. Liz and I took over as Naomi Dickson started in her new role as Executive Director, and as a new team we have certainly had a busy year.

In October we opened our new safe house, which has proved a successful model to help the most vulnerable of our clients. The organisation has also restructured the client services team and strengthened our links with the Charedi community.
Our membership campaign was also re-launched, we aim to reach as many women in the British Jewish community as possible, asking them to join with us in standing together against domestic abuse.

We have also worked to produce a leaflet for men, highlighting where men can seek support if they are victims of abuse. This answered a question that was often being asked, ‘what about men’? We felt that while we didn’t want to take any resources from the women we work with, it was felt that we needed to address this issue.
JWA has also joined the Jewish Leadership Council, we hope that being part of this organisation will bring JWA into the mainstream of the Jewish charitable sector, endorsing the work that we do and raising awareness about the issue of domestic abuse.

The past year has been really rewarding, not just because working for an organisation like JWA you really can feel like you are making a difference, but also because I am lucky enough to be part of a great team. As I said in the beginning it has been a privilege to work with staff, volunteers and board members. JWA is as successful as it is because of the women who make up this organisation, we are always looking to expand the work that we do and with your help can reach every woman who needs us.

Hilda Worth