Herstory – Our Journey

Herstory – Our Journey

Herstory – Our Journey

What's in a name? Find out where our project names come from.

Hackney Women’s Aid became the nia project in 2003 to reflect our widening range of services.  Symbolic of the universal links between women who have been subjected to men’s violence and the global feminist movement to resist patrichal violence, we chose the name ‘nia’, which is a Swahili word meaning purpose or intent.

The Emma Project is named after Emma Humphreys, who, aged 17, after being convicted of the murder of her violent 33-year-old boyfriend and pimp, Trevor Armitage. Emma was freed 12 years later in 1985 winning an appeal changing the conviction to manslaughter on the grounds of long-term provocation. Emma died of an accidental overdose of prescribed medication, 3 years later, aged just 30.

“I just needed someone to talk to. Once I got the courage to speak to someone to talk to about my problems, it was a real help. It was great to find someone who got me, someone to talk to and an action plan of what I could do next. Without their help, I just don’t know how I would be feeling now. I’m not quite there yet, but I know I’m on the right track.”

Daria House is named after Daria Pionko who was murdered in Leeds’ so-called prostitution managed zone in December 2015. In Daria’s memory we say prostitution can never be safe for women.

The Huggett Women’s Centre was named after local former-Dagenham women Annie Huggett, who, when she died, aged 104 in 1996, was the UK’s last living suffragette and the longest card-carrying member of the Labour Party.

See how far we’ve come since our birth in 1975.

The start: Hackney Women's Aid
1975
BBC Children in Need provided 3 years’ funding for a full-time Children’s Worker in the refuges.
1990
Clapton Women’s Aid merges with Hackney Women’s Aid.
1991
We open a newly refurbished refuge.
1993
HWA ceases to be a collective and adopts a hierarchical structure.
1994
HWA faces closure due to potential withdrawal of funding.
The management committee appoints Denise Marshall as manager to "rescue" the organisation.
1995
A special children’s therapeutic programme is launched in partnership with NCH.
'Signpost' a photography course for refuge residents is established and an exhibition is held in Stoke Newington.
1997
Sinead O'Connor launches our children's summer holidays to Tyn Y Berth.
HWA runs its first groupwork programme in HM Prison Holloway
1998
Comic Relief fund a Turkish women's outreach service.
Marai Larasi appointed as chief executive.
2000
Hackney Women's Aid becomes the nia project.
The nia project launched its first website. The nia Project achieves a legal services commission quality mark for advice. Zohra House - a specialist refuge for refugee women is launched. All nia’s refuge sites are computerised.
2003
nia holds a conference: "Not For Sale: The Buying and Selling of Women and Children".
2006
We employ our first Independent Sexual Violence Advocate and launch IDVA service.
The IRIS trial project runs from 2007 - 2010 to improve GP responses to domestic violence and abuse.
2007
Hold Childhood Sexual Abuse and Exploitation Conference.
Launch the Emma Project, a pioneering refuge and outreach service for women who have experienced domestic and sexual violence including women who have been exploited through prostitution and who also use substances problematically.
2007
Publish Double Oppression: Resources Pack for Practitioners working with disabled women affected by violence.
nia is threatened with closure due to insolvency. On 20th October - Karen Ingala Smith starts as CEO. In October we retain Community Legal Service Quality Mark.
2009
New CEO and board develop plan re financial difficulties.
March - Contract for Hackney refuge service is put out to tender and on December 24 we’re officially told that we have lost the Hackney refuges to a generic provider. This seriously threatens nia’s viability.
2010
January - Launch East London Rape Crisis.
2011
March - Refuges handed over to new provider.
nia now has only one refuge, The Emma Project.
2011
May - Emergency Board Meeting to consider closure. Board and CEO develop rescue plan.
Release of independent evaluation of sexual exploitation service ‘ Boys Think Girls Are Toys ‘ by London Metropolitan University
2011
The IRIS Model for improving GP responses to domestic violence and abuse is recognised as good practice in a report in The Lancet.
Launch rebrand, new logo, new website, new leaflets. nia joins Twitter.
2011
Achieve CAADA leading Lights Accreditation.
Our preventative work with girls is mentioned as promising practice in EVAW’s campaign and report 'A Different World is Possible'.
2011
January - CEO Karen Ingala Smith starts Counting Dead Women prompted by the murder of Kirsty Trealor in Hackney on 2nd January.
2012
Eva Wiseman becomes our first patron.
2012
Join consortium of 22 London Violence Against Women and Girls services to bid in partnership for London Councils Funding.
2012
Awarded funding for Young Women’s Advocates for East London Rape Crisis.
2012
February - As part of Billion Women Rising, we release 109 balloons in front of parliament representing women killed by men in 2012 and read out their names.
2013
April - London Violence Against Women Consortium bid is successful
2013
Karen Ingala Smith and Freshfields solicitors begin talks that will later lead to the development of the Femicide Census.
nia present at the Sexual Violence Conference in Prague on sexual violence and marginalised groups.
2013
The organisation concludes the final step to address the legacy of financial problems.
2014
CEO Karen Ingala Smith is awarded Positive Role Model for Gender Prize by National Diversity Awards.
2014
Deloitte join the Femicide Census partnership and start to build a bespoke database to record details of all women killed by men in the UK since 2009.
2014
February - Femicide Census launched.
2015
Achieve Rape Crisis England And Wales Service Standard.
nia’s sister organisation, Eaves, goes into administration. Eaves’ London Exiting and Advocacy Project which supports women to exit prostitution and their Research and Campaigns Manager join nia.
2015
August – Open Daria House, a specialist refuge for women who have been sexually exploited, particularly through prostitution.
2016
November - Speak at UN symposium on Combatting Femicide in Vienna on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.
2016
Launch the first Femicide Census Report analysing men’s fatal violence against women in England and Wales between 2009 and 2015 in partnership with Women’s Aid England.
2016
January - Open Huggett Women’s Centre funded by the Big Lottery in Dagenham.
2017
July – Launch 'I’m no Criminal' Report on the impact of prostitution specific criminal records on women who have exited prostitution and supporting legal case for their erasure.
2017
Launch the East London Rape Crisis Freephone helpline and double the hours of availability.
2017
Achieve Women’s Aid National Service Standard.
2017
The Femicide Census presents at the launch of the European Femicide Observatory.
2018
Summer - The lottery funding for Huggett Women’s Centre ends and therefore so does dedicated service delivery.
We’re able to cover the costs of the building and can still run some, but much restricted, services from there. Still seeking major philanthropist!
2019
Secure 3 years’ funding for a BME ISVA for East London Rape Crisis.
2019
Secure lottery funding for 3 years for an East London service to support women to exit prostitution.
2019
Jodie Woodward is elected Co-Chair of Rape Crisis England and Wales after serving on their board for 7 years.
2019
Launch new website.
2020
Onjali Rauf joins as Patron.
2020

Our quality marks

Rape Crisis national service standards - Rape Crisis professionally approved
Advice Quality Standard
Safe Lives Leading Lights 2019 accreditation
Women's Aid national standard of quality 2018
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