Introducing our new CEO
I am thrilled to join Kairos WWT as the new CEO and am looking forward to leading the organisation through our next phase of development, and beyond. I’m incredibly passionate about the needs and rights of women and consider myself both an advocate and an activist. My professional background spans the public and charity sectors; most recently I provided strategic leadership at a large rape crisis centre.
At Kairos WWT, we support women subjected to or at risk of sexual exploitation, including women involved in street based prostitution, those caught up in the criminal justice system, and women who experience homelessness. The women are so often marginalised, stigmatised, pathologized, blamed and silenced by mainstream services and society in general. Labels such as ‘high risk’, ‘complex’, ‘hard to reach’, and ‘difficult to engage’ are casually applied. However, at Kairos WWT we are accepting and non-judgemental, and we collaborate with each woman as an individual, to increase safety, self-belief, and stability. Our approach is holistic and woman-centred; because every woman matters.
One of my initial responsibilities in my new role was to speak at a local online #ReclaimOurStreets vigil, held to commemorate Sarah Everard and all women subjected to male violence against women. The event was organised by local MP Zara Sultana in conjunction with the Coventry Women’s Partnership, which Kairos WWT is part of. I shared some appalling statistics. For example, in the UK, women involved in street based prostitution are 12 times more likely to be murdered than other women in the same age bracket. Research suggests that 70-95% of women in prostitution experience physical assault; 60-75% are raped, and 95% experience sexual harassment. Here at Kairos WWT, women disclose multiple incidents of violence and abuse, historical and current, including childhood physical and sexual abuse (including childhood sexual exploitation), rape, sexual assault, being strangled, kicked, beaten, institutional abuse, domestic violence, coercive control and financial abuse.
Given these unacceptably high levels of violence and abuse, there is no denying that our work with women can only be effective if it is truly trauma informed. Embedding this practice in all that we do, at every level, will be a key priority for us and it is an aspiration for Kairos WWT to become a beacon of ‘good practice’.
Over my first few weeks at Kairos WWT, I have witnessed the team in action and am so impressed by their level of commitment, drive and determination. There is a saying, “empowered women empower women” and this is what I see enacted on a daily basis. I am very excited to work with our staff, volunteers and trustees, who have been so supportive and welcoming of my arrival. Additionally, I’m looking forward to building relationships with supporters, partners, and funders, all of whom are integral to our ability to provide our essential (but underfunded) services. Finally, I am committed to listening to and amplifying the voices of the women we support. As we venture into the next phase of our development, I will ensure those voices remain central.