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Trustees and CEO

Our Board of Trustees

Our Board of Trustees is responsible for the overall control and strategic direction of the organisation. They meet regularly to discuss, decide and review our strategies and policies and receive reports and updates from our senior management team. They ensure that we comply with all of the required legal and regulatory requirements. Our trustees work for us voluntarily to make sure we’re doing all we can to end domestic abuse and all forms of violence against women and children.

 

Kirsty Palmer (Chair)

“I’m currently Director of Student Services at Cardiff Met University, covering careers, mental health, disability, chaplaincy and money advice, among other things. I’ve been in Cardiff for 6 years, having previously lived and worked in London, where I was Chair of Trustees at North Kensington Law Centre. Since moving to Cardiff I’ve become a regular parkrun volunteer, and now am Event Director at Tremorfa park. I’m very happily married with two cats, Samson and Chester, as well as being a keen (albeit slow) runner and wannabe powerlifter.

I am a feminist, and I wanted to use my experience of leadership and trusteeship in service of a cause I am really personally committed to. It took me a while to find the right thing, but when Welsh Women’s Aid (WWA) were recruiting in 2019, it seemed like the ideal opportunity. I believe that we will only tackle the epidemic of VAWG if we are able to influence and lobby on a structural and systemic level to ensure that not only do we have adequately-resourced (one day, hopefully) specialist services, but also that we are addressing the underlying causes – we will not cure the disease if we only ever treat the symptoms. WWA’s role in influencing policy, as well as making space for the voices of survivors and specialist services seemed to me to be a fantastic way of addressing the problem.

I am really interested in how we build a movement for change, and how each component part, from survivors, to specialist services, to public affairs teams, professional staff and even trustees can join our voices, expertise and energy to bring about the kind of world we want to see. I’m a newcomer in this, and I am learning rapidly from the amazing examples all around me, from women who have shown incredible determination, energy and stickability in the face of seemingly insurmountable challenges. I hope that I can find the best way to make my contribution.

For all the commonalities in our shared female experience, there are specific challenges which I, as a white woman who is now comfortably middle class, have never experienced. I believe we will best serve all women affected by VAWDASV if we recognise and acknowledge the diversity of our experiences alongside the commonalities. I will do my best to make sure that WWA Is making space for those diverse voices, amplifying them and bringing them to the fore, as well as making sure we are listening ourselves to what our membership, and wider community is telling us about what we can do better.

There is literally nothing interesting or remarkable about me. I am the very definition of average.”

 

Helen Kell (Vice Chair) is the Development and Fundraising Manager at Cyfannol Women’s Aid, a member service of Welsh Women’s Aid.  In this role, Helen has been active in developing initiatives that include housing for women being sexual exploited, domestic abuse crisis support provision alongside the police response, and preventative work with children and young people.  Prior to her current role, Helen has worked in digital inclusion, training, child poverty, and physical regeneration, predominantly within the third sector, but with five years within a local authority. It was through her work within the child poverty sector, where she witnessed the disproportionate impact of austerity on women’s lives, that she became more focused on gender inequalities, leading her to the Women’s Aid movement in 2015.   A full member of the Chartered Institute of Fundraising (membership number: 2043152), Helen is qualified and experienced in fundraising, governance, and change management.

Helen joined the Welsh Women’s Aid Board in 2019, becoming their treasurer and vice-Chair in 2021.  She believes that specialist services are stronger as part of a wider movement, and that Welsh Women’s Aid has a key role in campaigning, at both Welsh and Central Government levels, on the needs of survivors and the services that support them.

Alongside her work, Helen has been an active member of her community within the Gwent Valleys, previously being a board member for social enterprises covering the arts and technology. She has a keen interest in current affairs, music, reading, cricket, and crochet.  She has recently joined Twitter and can be found @Helen_Kell15.

 

Angelina Rodriques has over 18 years’ experience of working in the charity sector. In her previous roles, Angelina has been the CEO of Welsh Women’s Aid member service Atal Y Fro and was also responsible for the development of refuges across Wales, specialising in BME support. She later went on to lead the development of the first female refuge in Wales for victims of Human Trafficking, followed by the development of a refuge for male victims. Angelina’s achievements were recognised in 2010 when she won the Leading Wales Award for leadership. Alongside work, Angelina has been a board member for a number of charities.

 

Trish McGrath

“I am CEO of Aberystwyth University Students’ Union and have worked in the third sector for 22 years. I live in beautiful coastal mid Wales with my 3 cats, dog and my 8 year old son. In my spare time I love singing, wool crafts, the beach and working to get fitter with strength and conditioning and trail running on my local coastal path and hills.

I’m a passionate feminist and have always had a keen active interest and involvement in campaigning for and fighting for equality in an unequal world. I believe we live in a patriarchal society that impacts everyone in negatively and that if we can support women and girls to reach their full potential that we can change the world for the better. I feel lucky to have worked in a sector that has supported me to thrive and that has embraced diversity and encouraged individuality and I live a safe and happy life at home. It is every woman’s right to experience that, it shouldn’t be a privilege but sadly it is – I believe Welsh Women’s Aid is making a difference, changing women and children’s lives and if I can support any aspect of the organisation to do that in any way then I am interested in it.

As a woman with ADHD I am aware how I am impacted and potentially societally disadvantaged in life by those factors in similar but interconnecting ways. The women that Welsh Women’s Aid support will have unique but interconnecting factors too that need to be considered and that may need differing levels of support and consideration. As an organisation that seeks to empower and raise the voices and lived experiences of women we need to meet women where they are at and to do so means we need to consider different barriers and ensure that a full range of voices are heard when we consult and amplify. I will always work to ensure that we consider and include that full range of women, that we check and challenge ourselves where needed and to use any chances or platforms we have to amplify a full range of experiences.

I genuinely have a severe allergy to lettuce!”

 

Vicky Friis

“I am the Chief Executive of Atal y Fro a specialist domestic abuse service operating in the Vale of Glamorgan and a Welsh Women’s Aid member service. I previously led Carmarthen Domestic Abuse Services and was proud to take them through quality standards, provide opportunities for the team to develop, increase their income and the services they provide. I also had the privilege to work as part of the Communities First programme in Rhondda Cynon Taf and developed several successful projects and met some inspiring people across the Cynon Valley.

Obtaining a degree at 32, whilst parenting three children and holding down a part time job is something I am proud of. I am a feminist, believe that everyone has strengths and am passionate about challenging injustices, bringing out the best in people,  and improving the health, well-being and safety of women and families who have been subjected to domestic abuse and sexual violence. I value kindness, integrity, honesty and creativity and I enjoy a challenge and finding solutions to complex problems. I am open to learn new things and am curious about people and how they work.

I believe that violence against women and girls is a gendered issue and access to opportunities to be free and safe are not always equal. The important work that Welsh Women’s Aid does in raising awareness, challenging the status quo and influencing decision makers helps make change happen and I am keen to contribute to this agenda by being a trustee.”

 

Nic Danson

“Some may remember me from a long time ago when I was Executive Officer for Eleri in 2018 (I think). It was a brief but extremely memorable experience and I have been looking for a way to get back into supporting VAWG and gender inequality since then.

In my day job I work in HR. I’ve moved around a lot during the last few years as I fought to regain my career position since my career break with my kids. I currently work for a small private company based in Cardiff. I am a parent governor for my local primary and comprehensive schools. I enjoyed working from home so I could stay at home with my 3 dogs and 2 cats. It’s nice to be back in the world but I certainly did not miss the commute!

I’m always looking for ways to improve the world for my children and future generations and I think working for WWA is a way to utilise my skills to that end. I’d like to bring a non-sector viewpoint to the table. The company I currently work for is predominantly male and it is eye opening to see how those who have no knowledge or experience of the sector see the feminist movement. So I am particularly interested to see how we can bring the realities of VAWG to those who do not, cannot or don’t want to see it.

In terms of HR, I would love to eventually specialise in diversity and inclusion and I would like to bring this to my work as WWA Trustee. Since leaving WWA in 2018, I have worked with charities supporting disadvantaged groups and the structural inequalities that exist wherever you look. And yet, the answer seems so simple and glaringly obvious: treat each person as an individual and not stereotype. To do this we must listen to all voices and to acknowledge our own unconscious bias. By talking about difference and individuality, we get one step closer to inclusivity for all.

Everything about everyone is interesting so it’s difficult to suggest one about me, particularly as some of you have already heard my stories! I consider myself Glaswegian as I spent my formative years there. I used to have a very strong accent, but it’s gone now since having left over 25 years ago. But when I go back home to see my sister, the accent starts coming back, normally around Carlisle. It’s like an in-built sat nav.

Looking forward to working with you all.”

 

Our staff and volunteers

Welsh Women’s Aid employs around 50 dedicated staff across Wales, working on membership and engagement, communication, training, policy and public affairs, services development, survivor involvement, business support, and in direct services. We also have regular volunteers who work at our direct services.

Our CEO

Sara Kirkpatrick joined Welsh Women’s Aid as CEO in April 2020.

Formerly Research & Development Manager at Respect, the UK membership organisation for work with domestic violence perpetrators, male victims and young people. In that role, Sara supported member organisations to deliver interventions with perpetrators of domestic violence and abuseas well as leading on research and service development across the UK.  

Always working to challenge violence against women and girls, Sara describes herself as an Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) specialist having worked in criminal justice and community settings for over 25 years. Starting her career providing support in a women’s refuge she has worked with a range of client groups including male victims, children impacted by domestic abuse, women remaining in abusive relationships and perpetrators of domestic abuse. Sara has contributed to a number of frontline innovative projects with perpetrators of IPV including co-authoring and delivering the award winning CARA conditional caution projectcontributing to the development of DRIVE and most recently working alongside Welsh Women’s Aid on their Change that Lasts perpetrator strand. 

In addition to her role, Sara is also a Trustee of the End Violence Against Women (EVAW) coalition and a Visiting Lecturer at Winchester University in the social work department, as she too enjoys the opportunity to enable practitioners to address DVA safely and effectively.

Today @WelshGovernment launched the #VAWDASV Strategy 22-26. The ambition for Wales to be ‘the safest place to be a woman’ is a bold one considering the reality of epidemic rates of violence and abuse far too many are experiencing. Our full statement: bit.ly/3sUdQZf pic.twitter.com/fo7p2cWaU4

Yesterday from WelshWomensAid's Twitter