20 July 2021
To the CEO, the Directors, the Head of Human Resources, and the Board of Trustees at Solace Women’s Aid and to the survivors of gender based violence and service users of Solace.
We stand in solidarity with, and recognise the bravery of, past and present staff members who have whistle-blown on their experience of racism and bullying at Solace. We trust and respect our colleagues, and we know that every worker at Solace is dedicated to a better world, free from Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG), but also free from racism and all forms of discrimination. We do not believe our leadership is committed to the same aims. We do not believe this can be reconciled and we have no confidence in the CEO, Directors, Head of Human Resources , or Board of Trustees.
We see this incident as one in a long line of failures of the organisation, and part of a wider turn from a grassroots feminist organisation, to a corporate entity, of corporate sector values with charity sector salaries.
To our service users and survivors, we unequivocally distance ourselves from the actions of Solace’s leadership, which we believe is at odds with the values and practices of the workers. It is primarily us, and not them, who come to work every day, to do the important work of supporting you, and building a world free from violence and oppression. If services suffer from this crisis, it is due to the actions of leadership, and not workers, and we refuse to be held accountable for clearing up their mess.
We believe that in the best interests of the future of services and the survivors who access them, the leadership should do the right thing, and acknowledge they are no longer fit to run a VAWG organisation.
We are unable and unwilling to defend the actions of our leadership team. We are no longer proud to work for Solace, and instead, feel embarrassed of the direction the organisation has taken. We refuse to partake in defensiveness, minimising the complaints, undermining the complainants themselves, and using threats of power and control to silence the unfolding crisis. That is the behaviour of perpetrators.
We do not have faith in the promises of change and reflection of the leadership team, and we recognise any such statement now to be an attempt to save face.
We believe that the leadership of this organisation has had every opportunity to listen to their workers, to be open and reflective, and committed to change and improvement. Every one of these opportunities has been missed, and the leadership have in our view shown themselves unable and unwilling to engage meaningfully with change and growth. Instead, leadership have doubled down, threatened, dismissed, and gaslighted complainants and have shown an inability to understand racism, discrimination, and power dynamics. For this reason, we believe they are unfit to lead a VAWG service, and Solace cannot be salvaged with them at the helm.
We state that Solace is made up of the women who show up every day to do battle with millennia of oppression, not those at the top who enforce and legitimise it.
We, as the organised and unionised workers of Solace Women’s Aid, call for the resignation of the CEO, the Directors, the Head of Human Resources , and the Board of Trustees. There must be fundamental and systemic change at Solace and we want to make clear how much this has affected staff morale, staff wellbeing and the failures ultimately affect our service users. We care deeply about our work and our duty to stand against oppression in all its forms, whenever and wherever it rears its head.
We want a response to the above with a clear indication that the action needed will be taken. Failing this, we will be forced to instruct our union to escalate matters accordingly – in order to ensure the necessary changes happen. We will be expecting a response from you within 7 working days.
From the organised and unionised workers of Solace Women’s Aid
07.10.2021 / SAGE
01.10.2021 / VAWG