Together for Women with the Berkshire Community Foundation

Liz Jackson MBE writes: We were incredibly proud to sponsor the Together for Women event for the Berkshire Community Foundation (BCF). This prestigious gathering was an educational event to focus on the work the BCF has been doing with Berkshire-based charities to help those impacted by Domestic Violence and Slavery. There were some very special VIPs there, including Her Royal Highness Princess Beatrice, who is a patron of the BCF, and spoke very passionately about the work that BCF supports. She brought encouragement and passion as she spoke so beautifully in congratulating BCF Chief Executive, Gerry Lejeune OBE DL, on BCF’s huge contribution to the community.

One in four women in England and Wales will experience domestic abuse in her lifetime

The Rt Hon Theresa May MP was also in attendance, where she spoke on her history of fighting tirelessly to bring forward legislation that seeks to eliminate modern day slavery and help those suffering from domestic violence. Theresa May pioneered The Domestic Abuse Bill in 2019, which proposed the first government definition of domestic abuse, including financial abuse and controlling and manipulative non-physical behaviour. Whatever your politics, I have to say – having sat next to Theresa as she helped me make my scones for a couple of hours – I was really impressed with not only how humble she was, but how determined and passionate she was to continue fighting for vulnerable people caught up in horrendous situations.

Professor Dame Sara Thornton DBE QPM, Professor of Practice in Modern Slavery Policy for the University of Nottingham and Consultant in Modern Slavery by the CCLA, also spoke on her experience in dealing with domestic abuse and modern slavery. One statistic that stayed with me was that 50 million people across the globe are estimated to be categorised as slaves – and 86% of them are working in the private sector. There was a plea from both Sarah and Theresa for organisations to diligently and persistently scrutinise their supply chains to help eradicate this practice.

The whole event was stolen by Ms B’s story as a domestic violence survivor. Ms B was joined by her 2 amazing children, who are now young adults, to share their story. From 17 years old, Ms B found herself in a highly abusive relationship. After many years she found the courage, with the support of Gerry and the BCF, and made it into a women’s refuge. She is now a conqueror, and has gone from victim to victor in my eyes. Today, Ms B is working with the organisation DASH helping others rebuild their lives after going through their own experience of domestic violence.

As business people perhaps we think these circumstances only exist in certain walks of life, but 1 in 4 women will suffer from domestic abuse, and it doesn’t discriminate. I am so grateful that I work for an organisation that is committed to making a difference and helping those who are most vulnerable in our communities, locally and globally. It’s one of the most rewarding things we as business people can do with our money and our time.