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Ngozi Fulani is Head of Service at Sistah Space, and an Idva. In this blog, she explains where Sistah Space began and the unique service they offer.

Sistah Space was founded after the brutal murder of Valerie Forde and her baby daughter. We attended the trial and learned that Valerie had, in fact, reported a threat to kill to the police which was recorded as a threat to property.

When we exited the courts after the guilty verdict, we realised that we had nowhere to go. The family and supporters were on the street crying and at that point we realised African and Caribbean heritage people don’t actually have a venue to go to. We can’t go to Costa and cry, we need our own space. So we started the Sistah Space.

The idea of Sistah Space is to ensure that black women and girls who should not be categorised as ‘BAME’, would have a venue where they could see themselves reflected, where the assumption that we all have language or immigration issues is often made. We needed to look at why Valerie Forde, her daughter and the rest of the family were failed.

We repeatedly applied for funding which was routinely turned down because ‘BAME’ organisations were claiming to support ‘black’ victims. These organisations along with mainstream organisations were not understanding that we have a need that was not being met.

Four years without funding and with people failing to understand that because of lack of education, black victims continue to suffer or die at the hands of perpetrators.

Fast forward to today…

We now have five qualified Idvas, we are in a two year partnership with Victim Support, we are influencing the SafeLives training manual to make it more inclusive, we have a rolling programme of training for Homerton University Hospital and we are preparing to deliver training UK wide including Hackney Council.

We are still campaigning for change to ensure that we can introduce Valerie’s Law, which will mean that every organisation should undergo routine training to understand various cultures.

For more information visit the Sistah Space website