We had our early beginnings in both Leeds and London in the 1980s. In each city, groups of Jewish women, mostly social workers, were meeting to find ways of supporting Jewish women facing domestic violence and abuse. In London, the group sought ways of giving face-to-face support, and began to plant the seeds of what would become the JWA refuge. The group in Leeds meanwhile focused on setting up a local helpline and raising awareness. The two groups of women joined together in the early 1990s, and JWA became a national organisation. It was registered as a charity in 1995.

Since those early days, the charity has grown considerably. Our refuge and counselling services opened in 1997. Soon afterwards we became a member of Women’s Aid, the national network of organisations that support women affected by domestic and sexual violence. In the early 2000s our one-to-one support was developed into a professional Domestic Abuse Service, and we launched our education programmes in schools. Our helpline grew to become a national, anonymous helpline staffed by 60 helpliners. Our volunteer base grew to around 150 people around the country.

JWA Leeds founder members Elaine Grazin (left) and Sheila Saunders z"l (right) Leeds Day Limmud 2006. 
Running a JWA workshop with the brilliant title: "You can't beat a Jewish Woman"

In 2004, our Hon. President Judith Usiskin was awarded MBE for her services to the Jewish community with JWA.

In 2011 we began offering training to other communal professionals, and also recruited our first member of paid staff outside London, based in Manchester. 

In 2012 we appointed a professional to run and develop JWA's therapeutic services.

In 2014 our current CEO, Naomi Dickson, was appointed.

In 2017 we were awarded Women's Aid accreditation, in recognition of the quality of client support that we offer and the high professional standard of our service.

In 2018 we expanded our service in the north of England.

In 2018 we were invited by the Jewish community to develop resources to support communal organisations with best practice in policy around sexual harassment at work.

In 2018 we also commissioned research into the need for a Jewish sexual violence service.

In 2019 we launched our Dina Service for survivors of sexual violence, and our sexual harassment project for the Jewish community.

Two groups of devoted women committed to raising awareness of an unspoken subject, were the impetus for what JWA now has become:

  • 29 members of staff
  • 150 volunteers
  • an office in London and another in Manchester
  • given support to thousands of women and children in the Jewish community over the years
  • supporting around 700 women each year
  • a key resource in the Jewish community
  • a force for change in attitudes towards violence and abuse of women
  • a part of a national and international network of women's organisations against violence and abuse.

We are indebted to our founders, for having the vision and persistence to build JWA....

We are indebted to our clients, for having the trust in us.... 

We are indebted to our volunteers, for giving their precious time and commitment to help us deliver our services....

....and we are indebted to all of our supporters, without whom we could not offer Jewish women and children affected by domestic and sexual violence the chance to heal, empower themselves, and move on from the abuse.

Thank you, to everyone - past and present - who has been a part of the story of JWA.

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