Last week, five of us went as the Jewish Women’s Aid delegation to the national Women’s Aid Federation conference. It’s usually an annual gathering of leaders from most of the women’s aid charities nationally which we’ve not had since 2019. It’s always a place to put names to faces, ask questions, network and learn. This time, it felt really special to be back and here’s what I learned:

1. There is no gathering like this one

A reunion of women who work at domestic abuse charities nationally who’ve not seen each other since before 2021. Our organisations were built to absorb trauma and to support abused women and we’ve done so much of that over the pandemic. There was a lot of group processing and mutual support, and much celebration of success – when we get together, we are always strengthened.

 

2. Michelle Griffith-Robinson, Olympian and Keynote speaker was totally inspiring

She wove her personal story of a tough childhood and amazing achievements into our sector’s story of support for women and their healing and empowerment. She ended with a call to action for each one of us to achieve personal fulfilment with her line ‘What’s your purpose? What’s your passion? What’s stopping you?’

 

3. A fire alarm disrupting conference isn’t always a bad thing

It gave us an additional 45 minutes of networking and a chance to chat to MP Anneliese Dodds who had been speaking from the podium, confirming to me that informal chats are often more interesting than speeches.

 

4. Going away with colleagues

Is the best way to get to know them, in a good way. Enough said.

 

5. We have so much in common

Reinforced again when I co-facilitated a workshop on ‘supporting women of faith’ with an outstanding Muslim colleague.

 

6. Women’s Aid conference remains the single most inspiring point in my professional year

I learned, listened, read, networked, danced and sung my way through two uplifting days and returned energised, empowered and eager to take on the challenges ahead, safe in the knowledge that the sisterhood is strong.