On 25 November 2010, Chuka Umunna, MP, Parliamentary Private Secretary to The Rt. Hon Ed Milliband, Leader of Labour’s Parliamentary Opposition, hosted a reception for some 200 guests in the Jubilee Room, to launch:
- A funding quest for the Cassandra Learning Centre (CLC)
- A Campaign to stop Domestic Abuse against girls and Women.
The reception coincided with United Nation (UN) Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women (25th November) as well as the Home Secretary Theresa May’s vision for ending violence against women.
The Home Secretary’s Vision focused on the following key areas:
- Prevention of violence including reduction of repeat victimisation
- Provision of support for that specific need
- Emphasis on specific groups to work in partnership
- Actions to reduce risk by ensuring perpetrators are brought to justice.
The Home Secretary, in launching a cross governmental relationships, stated, “Our aim is clear. We want to end violence against women and girls. We must ensure that offenders are brought to justice, victims are given support and most importantly we challenge attitudes and behaviour.
This includes local domestic and sexual violence advisors, services for high-risk domestic violence victims, national help lines and work to prevent forced marriage.
And for the first time the strategy brings together work to tackle violence against women in the UK with details of the international approach to tackle this global problem.”
Chuka welcomed the Home Secretary’s allocation of more than £28 million for specialist services to tackle violence against women and girls through 2015. He expressed his heartfelt concerns around the silent and heinous crimes against women and girls.
The reception at the House of Commons was a landmark event for CLC to raise the awareness of domestic violence and its devastating impact of on the lives of young people. Domestic abuse crimes against young people are among the least reported, least prosecuted offences. This is because most often domestic abuse among young people is not conceptualised as abuse. Resources for the under 18 year old victims are basically nonexistent. Chuka praised Jennifer McDermott for her driving force in the quest to stop domestic violence in the adolescent and young adult population. He also emphasized the need for CLC to obtain funding.
Jennifer also spoke of the need to work with young men who are often seen as perpetrators of violence but they too are victims of domestic abuse. Jennifer took the opportunity to thank the police officers DS Matt Flynn and DC Cathy Styles who attended the reception. These officers were part of the team led by Nic Scola that worked on the murder case of her daughter, Cassandra McDermott.
Jennifer also thanked Kara Hoyte, also a victim of the perpetrator for testifying (despite her injuries at that time), her testimony that helped secure the first Double Jeopardy case in London. Mario Celaire became the first perpetrator of domestic abuse to be convicted under the change in the law (2005). On the behalf of CLC Jennifer expressed her sincere thanks to the Metropolitan Police Service and to the Crown Prosecution Service for a job well done.
Guests were moved to tears by a victim’s account of her abuser. Her narrative enlightened everyone to the fact that abuse is very silent and cuts very deep. The victim, a professional woman illustrated in her account that abuse can happen to anyone despite race, class, ethnicity, and age. She stressed that the main approach to combating abuse is not to embrace the guilt of responsibility, never to feel ashamed; but to report the abuse to the police and to seek help from organisations like CLC.
Cassandra Learning Centre (CLC) would like to thank Chuka Umunna MP who hosted the launch of the National Campaign at the Houses of Parliament on 25 November 2010.This event was the first of many in CLC’s quest to end Domestic Violence.
As a final gesture of good will, CLC extends its thanks to the following special guests who attended the Launch:
- Lord Alf Dubs
- Rt Hon David Blunkett
- Fiona Mactaggart MP
- Adam Holloway MP
- Tom Brake MP
- Rick Jones Rothchilds Bank
- Julie Mcknight NAPO
- Chief Supt Nick Ephgrave (Lambeth Police Commander)
- Dr Neeraj Patil (Mayor of Lambeth)
Georgina Harley-Smith Thank you
A hudge thanks to our photograph Julie Bentley and to the students from Croydon college and Greycoat hospital school