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Sistah Space is a charity dedicated to supporting African & Caribbean heritage woman and girls affected by domestic and sexual abuse. 

The charity was established after the vicious murder of Hackney mum, Valerie Forde and her 23 month old baby RJ (Front picture). The perpetrator was the ex partner of Valerie and RJ's father.  Valerie had reported previous threats which were recorded as a 'threat to property'. A Homicide Review made recommendations, but not much has changed. 

Black women often feel unable to report abuse for many reasons, including,  the fear of not being believed, the Windrush scandal and the fact that  we feel that black men are not safe in police custody. Women want abuse to stop, but we do not want the men harmed. This is a hostile environment, we need to be able to support women without the fear of losing the roof over our heads. 

Hackney Council have decided that we must return to a shopfront building in an unsafe area despite our risk assessment showing that we are at increased risk there. It is unreasonable and discriminatory to place us in a small shop and ask us to be grateful that we have a property. It is enough. The unsafe venue is visible in the video clip. Please note the proximity to the pavement and how easy it would be for perpetrators to see and access us.

We call on the community and businesses to help us continue to help others. We are a small charity with one paid worker, expected to support Pan London, with no adequate premises. 

It is widely acknowledged that domestic abuse increased dramatically during the Covid19 pandemic. It  has been especially traumatic for domestic abuse survivors from the  African & Caribbean heritage community because the majority of mainstream services do not understand or cater for black women and girls affected by domestic or sexual abuse. This is especially true of the grassroots/Rastafarian and other communities that remain invisible in plain sight. 

Why should you support?

I think we should all play a part in supporting the kind of diverse community that we want to live in, regardless of if we belong to that specific community or not. I do believe that most people feel the same. It isn't just about colour or culture, it's about equality and love. That's what makes a community great. 

Sistah Space has struggled hard in this regard, offering a specialist service for African heritage women that is not available anywhere else in the country. We  have always found it difficult to obtain funding as the criteria set does not know enough about our needs to make provisions for them in the guidance. 

Mainstream do not take into account that our essential needs differ from other cultures. Hair and skin products such as shea butter for skin and specific products for hair were not easily obtainable, especially for victims in lockdown. 

For many black women affected by abuse it has been years since they have been able to relax and enjoy life free from abuse. This pandemic has pushed many to their absolute limit.

It has taken us over six years to establish a firm place in our community, for the first 5 years we worked private jobs to pay the rent, thus providing a service and paying to deliver it. We have won awards from Hackney for our work, but they repay us by not giving us due consideration that is given to other communities although we too are a protective characteristic. 

In our space we can support black women as only we know how, in a place that reflects us and our culture, without apology. (Emashi African Dance Ensemble, featured in Video).

We know the pain of what is happening to our black people in our communities world wide, especially with the recent murder of George Floyd and others who were taken before and since his brutal lynching. We need our own space to speak, feel and heal. 

We need your support. It takes something away from us each time we have to go to the 'system, cap in hand, just for them to tell us, no again. 

* £15000.  Will help us pay the rent for at least 3 years in a suitable venue that women can access 24hrs a day.

* £15000  This will help us employ a specialist Independent Domestic Violence Advisor (IDVA)

There is no other specialist service, UK wide that sufficiently understands and support the needs of African heritage women and girls in the way that Sistah Space does.

1st August update:
Our request to stay has been consistently denied by Hackney Council who remain determined to return us to Clapton,  a place of danger for victims of DV.

Please sign & RT this petition, it means a lot to us: https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/extend-dv-specialist-sistah-space-s-hackney-tenancy-until-march-31st?source=twitter-share-button&utm_medium=socialshare&utm_source=twitter&share=7e72879f-7f75-46c4-a62c-6ff4239a38a0 via @38_degrees

We have had to increase the amount we have to raise to £150,000 as that is what they are demanding for the entire venue. We have raised £60,000 of that already and so the new amount is £90,000.  We have decided that with this amount it may be  possible to secure lease to a safer space that we can't be removed from at the Council's whim.



Sistah-Space (Sanctuary)

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