To celebrate Southall Black Sisters’ 40th anniversary, we have printed a pack of six greeting cards “Struggle Not Submission” depicting artwork created by members of the SBS Support Group, as part of therapeutic art sessions.
Our weekly support group take part in a range of activities such as drama, arts and crafts, photography, writing and life-skills, such as citizenship and English classes. Through repeated engagement in the support group women who come to us as victims emerge as survivors and spokespersons not only for SBS campaigns but also become ambassadors and champions within their communities.
Women from our support group have gone on to participate in our ‘ambassadors’ programme where they have spread the message of women’s rights within BME communities resulting in increased referrals, reporting and early action and prevention within the community.
We have fostered long term change in community attitudes and have enabled women to seek their place within communities that had earlier sought to silence and marginalise them by promoting and actively encouraging women/survivors in leadership roles- challenging social, cultural and religious attitudes and practice which condone gender-based violence.
Our ambassadors have been effective in reaching ‘hard-to- reach’ groups and have given confidence to many other women to speak out against abuses before they have escalated.
Our ambassadors and support group women are extremely empowered women who are not hesitant of raising their voices and asserting their rights in the community. They have participated in several of our campaigns including the ‘Go Home Van’ campaign- protesting hostile immigration policies that promoted divisions within the communities on the basis of immigration status. They have unequivocally declared that divisions within the community and discrimination among people based on their immigration status would not be tolerated.
They have also spoken out against erosion of secular community spaces such as the ‘Save Southall Town Hall’ campaign. They have also raised awareness within BME communities about path-breaking BME women who fought for equality such as suffragette Sophia Kuldeep Singh. In this process of engagement with each other and the wider community, these women who came to us in utter desperation and a state of complete isolation have forged strong, meaningful friendships, benefitted from peer mentorship as well as changed community attitudes and impacted larger community relationships and networks.