Telephones can save lives, but only if there is someone on the other end to answer. Just imagine that you've found yourself in a mortally dire situation. You need help and you need it now. You find a safe moment to make a call for help; however, all you get is a dial tone.
That's the reality for some London women and their children who seek escape from an abusive relationship. According to the Office for National statistics, in 2015, 2 women were killed every week in England and Wales by a current or former partner. With government funding cuts approaching 40% to organisations that assist women in these types of situations, there is increasing risk that reduced staffing might mean there is no one to answer her call.
I learned of these horrifying facts first-hand through speaking with services users at an organisation--Solace Women's Aid--for which I volunteer. Their lives were saved by a phone call, but I'm always horrified to think how many women out there may have been killed if no one had been there for them, or what could happen if it were no longer possible to provide the same level of support. Solace is a London based charity that supports 11,000 women and children affected by domestic and sexual violence. They have an emergency helpline to offer support for women who may only have moments to speak or to make a life-changing decision. That's why it's vital to keep Solace's phone lines open.
Inspired by how critical this service is, among the many others that Solace provides, I founded a music-based fundraising event in 2011 to help fill the funding gap. Now in its fifth year, Rock Against Violence has turned into Solace's annual flagship event. It's organised and run by 8 volunteers who share the passion in our belief that we truly have the power to change. Between ticket sales, raffles and a silent auction, we raised £23,000 last year in unrestricted funds. This means more resources to take calls, provide counselling, buy items needed for refuges and a host of other activities.
Domestic violence can be a hard topic of conversation, even though its impacts cut across all age groups, ethnicities, religious affiliations, sexual orientations and classes. Rock Against Violence brings the community together in a way that raises awareness in a casual and open setting, accessible to everyone who wants to be part of it. It's also an opportunity to celebrate and showcase our local musical talent while concurrently raising money for a very worthy cause.
This year, we have four stellar London-based bands performing: Hunter & The Bear headlines with additional sets by We Used to Make Things, Patch & The Giant and The Wild Things. The musicians are playing for free and all the proceeds from the evening go to Solace. It's a very important fundraising event for Solace Women's Aid, but it's also a chance to let loose and enjoy a night of good music and prizes. Check out our promo video or Spotify playlist for a sample.
I am incredibly proud of Rock Against Violence and what it has been able to accomplish thus far. My hope is that it will continue to grow so that we can help even more London women and children live lives free from domestic and sexual violence. If you would like to help London women and children live free from abuse, please join us at Rock Against Violence by getting a ticket or donate via Virgin Money Giving.
Our community / Our music / Our power to change
Judy Kawaguchi is a Board Member of Solace Women's Aid, the founder of Rock Against Violence and the chair of Power of Solace, a volunteer committee that raises funds in aid of Solace Women's Aid via various events and activities throughout the year.