Looking back, looking forward

Posted January, 2024

RISE CEO Jo Gough looks back over our thirty years as a registered charity, and ahead to what 2024 might bring

2024 is my 11th year at RISE. It is also RISE’s 30th anniversary as a registered charity.

RISE’s roots go back further than that. The Refuge movement began in 1970, providing Refuges for ‘battered women’ as they were then called. These Refuges provided informal support, by women, for women. A Brighton Refuge was started in the mid-1970s and eventually became the current Refuge. Susie Taylor, a long-time supporter and former RISE volunteer, gave her permission for us to use this picture of our founders. Can you recognise where this is in Brighton?

We don’t know the names of all of the women in the picture but Jen, one of our founders says this:

“The key points from my involvement are that the original Women’s Aid group started out of the larger Brighton Women’s Lib group in the early 70’s, first as members of a Consciousness Raising group, then moving on to more practical action. We operated as a feminist collective, with a completely flat structure. We were autonomous and didn’t register as a charity, despite receiving what was called an Urban Aid grant from central government, which tapered off to become funding from the then Social Services department of East Sussex County Council. We worked in collaboration with a network of local contacts in Brighton, mainly from the Housing department, local solicitors, and the police. As you can imagine, things were very different in those days from the context in which RISE and other funded voluntary organisations operate today.”

Since those early days, some things have changed, and some have stayed the same.

We still centre the needs of the (mainly) women and children who need us. We listen to their voices and shape our services to suit what they tell us they need. We are steered by a dedicated group of volunteers, our Trustees, who generously give their time and energy. As a sector, and as an organisation, our support for women has become more professionalised. We are part of a national network, and we learn from the best practices of our sister organisations. We make applications for funding - some we win, some we lose.

One thing that hasn’t changed is the need. As a feminist, I hope that we will, one day, live in a world without male violence against women but we are not there yet. Some of the figures I share below have been unchanged for many years.

  • Globally, one in three women experience physical or sexual violence, mostly by an intimate partner.

  • Almost 9 in 10 women in some cities around the world feel unsafe in public spaces.

  • 60% of female runners worldwide have been harassed.

  • Over 70% of women in the UK say they have experienced sexual harassment in public.

(all stats UN Women)

Our local statistics are equally shocking.

In 2021/22, in Brighton and Hove

  • 5,487 domestic violence incidents and crimes were recorded by the police, of which 3,299 were crimes. Source

  • 12% of all police recorded crime had a domestic abuse flag (3,299 crimes and 2,188 incidents) Source

  • 88% of the perpetrators were male Source

  • 45% of 14–16-year-olds who had ever had a relationship said that they had experienced a problem behaviour in their relationship

  • 19% of 14–16-year-olds said they had experienced someone at school touching them sexually when they did not want it. (SAWASS, BHCC).

What are we doing?

There are not many formal records from our early days. Here are some headlines from recent years:

  • In 2021/22 we supported 969 people - 828 adults and 141 children.

  • In 2022/23 we supported 1357 people - 1156 adults and 201 children and young people. This is a 40% increase overall, and 43% increase to our work with children.

Domestic abuse is hidden, chronically under-reported and victims rarely get justice, which is why they need a service like RISE, that they can trust to walk by their side to safety and recovery.

Whatever happens in 2024, we will be there for the women, children & LGBT people in Brighton & Hove and surrounding areas who are affected by domestic abuse. Demand may increase but we are not going away. We will continue to offer help including crisis accommodation, a helpline, counselling, support groups, legal and housing advice, children’s services and a specialist LGBT Service. 

We want to be there for everyone who needs us, providing the right support at the right time.

If that’s you, or someone you know, contact us for help.

If you want to help us be there for those who need us, donate here or buy a ticket -for you or pay it forward for someone else - to the Wave of Love here, find out how your business can help here, or explore other ways to get involved here.

Brighton Women Thanks Susie Taylor