Domestic violence charity denies 'systemic racism' allegations

Solace Women's Aid has refuted allegations of racism within its organisation that have surfaced on social media and reported in the national media.

The allegations have emerged via a Twitter group called VAWGracism, set up in June, which claims to be dedicated to “highlighting racism” in the violence against women and girls (VAWG) sector.

Their open letter claims that “until recently” it believed that Solace supported diversity and championing the rights of black people.

However, the letter alleges that the charity’s leadership is “unwilling to commit to these values” and “been the perpetrators of direct personal acts of racism and microaggressions against staff”.

The campaign group is also calling for the charity’s leadership to step down.

The group alleges leaders at the charity “continue to allow institutional racism and gaslighting to proliferate through the organisation and have demonstrated clearly that they have no intention of addressing this toxic organisational culture”.

It is also alleged by the group that “despite multiple complaints” to the charity’s HR department and trustees there has been “wilful ignorance towards anti-black racism”.

Their letter includes a timeline of events around their allegations, which it is claimed were first made in June 2020. The group claims the letter has been signed by 30 current and former members of staff at the charity, who are not being named “for fear of repercussions”.

The allegations have been reported in the national media and “strongly” refuted by the charity, which says it is “committed to intersectional feminism and is anti-racist”.

The charity’s statement says: “We acknowledge there are always improvements we can make and we continue our journey in these areas. Solace does not expect to be immune from criticism, but such criticism should be founded on evidence, and fair.”

Solace adds that allegations around racism had been previously raised with the charity’s board.

“We appointed independent investigators who reported directly to the Board and, after extensive investigations in recent months, have found no evidence of systemic racism or bullying nor any evidence that Solace leadership is racist or bullying,” Solace’s statement adds.

Solace has been contacted for further comment.

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