Staff at domestic violence charity call for senior leaders to resign

A group of staff at the domestic violence charity Solace Women’s Aid have called on the organisation's senior leaders to resign.

In an open letter to the charity’s chief executive, directors, head of human resources and board of trustees, members of the union United Voices of the World working at Solace said they had “no confidence” in the organisation’s leadership and did not believe they were committed to a world “free from racism and all forms of discrimination”.

The letter says: “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.”

Earlier this month a group of about 30 current and former employees of the charity published a letter on Twitter that included allegations of “institutional racism and gaslighting” and a “harmful culture”.

The charity dismissed the claims as “defamatory and untrue” and threatened legal action.

UVW members say in the open letter that they are unwilling to defend the actions of the leadership team and refuse to take part in defensiveness, minimising the complaints, undermining the complainants and the use of threats to silence the unfolding crisis.

“That is the behaviour of perpetrators," the letter says. "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.

"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,” the letter says.

In a statement, the charity said it recognised the need to improve and that it had started embedding anti-racist and anti-oppressive practices across the organisation.

“We continue to listen to and learn from women of colour across the organisation to become a truly anti-racist organisation," it said.

“We take any complaints seriously as an organisation, utilising them as an opportunity to learn and improve our services.

“We believe in a culture of continuous improvement and are committed to ensuring that all staff, regardless of ethnicity, should be helped to provide the best possible service to the vulnerable women and children who depend on us.”

“Everyone across the organisation at Solace Women’s Aid is working tirelessly to improve services for vulnerable women who depend on us and will continue to do so in the future.”

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