Sistah Space: A vital service at risk

In these uncertain times when Domestic Abuse cases are rising during lockdown, it’s important to bring attention to those working hard to eradicate domestic abuse. In these difficult times and despite their own difficulties Sistah Space are doing just that. 

Interviews with service users of Sistah Space revealed that BAME women feel they are not taken seriously by police when reporting domestic abuse. In addition since 2012 and the introduction of the ‘Hostile Environment’ policy, even women with British citizenship are concerned about being deported. This in turn could keep them trapped in the cycle of abuse. Sistah Space work out of Hackney to support victims of domestic abuse from the Caribbean community and those of African heritage. The “Roof Not A Home Report” by London Black Women’s Project,  found that Since 2010 government austerity measures have impacted benefits and services in ways that unfairly influences the lives of Black and minoritised women. Sistah Space works to try and combat this through providing advocacy, advice and education.

Running on the goodwill of volunteers, the charity has just one Independent Sexual Violence Advisor (IDVA). Their crowdfunding page is raising money for a vehicle to ferry victims to safety and the means to maintain their IDVA’s services. This funding is not just essential for victims of domestic abuse. Sistah Space is a pillar of the Caribbean and African community in Hackney. They have helped to organise a celebration of an Ethiopean Christmas celebration called Genna which is not officially recognised in the UK, despite being celebrated privately by many of African heritage. Their hard work in the community has been recognised by being shortlisted for the 2020 Ethnicity Awards in the Charity Or Community Initiatives category. 

Unfortunately, Sistah Space’s office space is under threat and their operation has had to be scaled back, potentially putting the lives of the women they help at risk. The community of Hackney has come out in force to support the charity to help finance a possible new office space when they are able. There is a Gofundme underway to raise money for the cause. 

The loss of this important service would be a devastating loss to the community in London not just in Hackney. The representation of black women by women from the same communities as theirs is crucial.  Especially when reporting their abuse to police where there can be a distrust there about being taken seriously. Services like these should be protected. If they aren’t the toll on black women could be enormous.