The Queen has acknowledged the efforts of several people in combatting domestic abuse by naming them in the New Year Honours List.
The most high-profile recipient is former Spice Girl Mel B, awarded an MBE for her work with Women’s Aid. Having survived financial abuse, she joined the organisation in 2018.
“To go through such dark times and then to start coming into the light and speaking out for myself and other women has been at times incredibly painful but also unbelievably empowering,” she said.
“I feel I’m accepting this award on behalf of all women who have gone through – or are going through – abuse in all its shapes and forms. I am so grateful not just to be a survivor but to have a platform to keep speaking out as patron of Women’s Aid.”
Chief executive Farah Nazeer said of Melanie Brown: “She has dedicated herself tirelessly to working with the charity, spending a huge amount of time meeting survivors, supporting public awareness work and creating opportunities for raising awareness of domestic abuse.”
Fiona Mackenzie, who founded the We Can’t Consent To This campaign group in protest at the legal defence of consensual rough sex in cases where women or girls are violently injured or killed, has received an MBE. Last year’s Domestic Abuse Act ended that argument as a defence.
Human rights barrister Zimran Samuel of Brighton has been made an MBE, for services to victims of domestic abuse in recognition of working pro bono during the first lockdown.
He said he had wondered whether to accept an honour, given how many other deserving people go unrecognised. But family and friends persuaded him it was a good way to highlight his activities and how much work remains, the Brighton and Hove News reported.
Marlene Ferris, who manages the Women’s Aid refuge in Newark, Nottinghamshire, has been awarded a British Empire Medal.
“It has been a privilege to have been able to support so many families over the years; all those brave women who face so many barriers when leaving an abusive relationship and to help them heal their lives,” local newspaper Newark Advertiser quoted her as saying. A survivor of domestic violence, her involvement with Women’s Aid dates back to 1979.
Gill Smallwood, chief executive of Fortalice, a Bolton charity which supports victims of domestic abuse, has been awarded the MBE.
With a career background in education, she says she has always wanted to make a difference to protect people, a desire which grew after one of her students was murdered by her abusive boyfriend.
Since taking on the Fortalice role she has revitalised the charity so it now provides services such as a refuge, counselling for victims and their families, and educational programmes, the Bolton News reported. In her time at the helm, the charity has been nationally recognised as a beacon of excellence.