The Gallaher Trust, a registered charity which focuses on enriching the lives of those living in the Ballymena area, issued £70,000 in funding to Women’s Aid ABCLN’s Reconnect Project in May 2019, the participants of which have taken part in two initiatives to highlight the experiences of those affected by domestic abuse in the hope of influencing change.
This comes in the same year that latest Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) figures show the highest rate of domestic abuse crime since records began in 2004/2005. During the 2020/2021 financial year, there were a total of 19,036 domestic abuse crimes recorded in Northern Ireland, which is an increase of 408 on the previous year.
The Reconnect Project aims to improve confidence, develop self-esteem and reduce isolation enabling those who have been affected by domestic violence to develop new skills and to reintegrate into their local and wider communities. The project also provides a forum for women to share their experiences and be a part of two significant initiatives, the ‘White Ribbon’ anthem and ‘Hear Her Voice’.
Earlier this year, Women’s Aid ABCLN teamed up with Northern Ireland Opera and the Ulster Orchestra to launch ‘White Ribbon’, a collaborative anthem co-written by pianist Ruth McGinley and songwriter Duke Special, reflecting the voices and experiences of women affected by domestic abuse.
The ‘White Ribbon’ anthem has performed extremely well thus far and additionally, women involved with the Reconnect Project have participated in a regional programme with Women’s Aid Groups across Northern Ireland called ‘Hear Her Voice’, where they have shared their lived experiences to influence policy, legislation and change.
Participants have created artwork which is being produced in an eBook and will feature at the Women’s Aid Regional Conference on 25th November.
Speaking about the project, Mark Nodder OBE, a member of The Gallaher Trust’s Board of Trustees said: “We are delighted to support Women’s Aid ABCLN’s Reconnect Project which is doing essential work with those affected by domestic abuse in our community.
“The ‘White Ribbon’ anthem is an incredibly moving song which allows women affected by domestic abuse to tell their story in a very creative way. Similarly, the ‘Hear Her Voice’ initiative is empowering women to express their experiences and influence real change in terms of policy and legislation.
“As a charity that works to enrich and support those living in the Ballymena community, we’re very proud that our funding has helped this vital work to come to fruition.”
Women’s Aid ABCLN CEO, Rosemary Magill added: “We’re very grateful to The Gallaher Trust for committing their support to Women’s Aid ABCLN.
“Our ‘White Ribbon’ anthem which was released earlier this year, gave participants a unique opportunity to share their experiences in what was a very powerful and emotive way.
“In terms of the ‘Hear Her Voice’ initiative, women from the Reconnect Project took part in a series of focus groups to discuss their experiences. In doing this, we hope that survivors’ voices will be heard and will be a force for change in the future.
“Projects like these are vitally important. They ultimately give domestic abuse survivors a platform to tell their stories and help inspire real change. Without the support of organisations like The Gallaher Trust, this would not be possible.”
Hear the anthem here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mg3gjSoWCKQ.