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Firm News | 8.03.24

The Marchioness of Lansdowne, Wansbroughs and the Wiltshire Community Foundation (WCF) join forces for a sell-out International Women’s Day event

International Women's Day Event at Bowood 2024 - hosted by Wansbroughs LLP

On Friday 1st March, 160 guests were welcomed to Bowood Hotel, Spa & Golf Resort for an afternoon tea event with a difference, to mark International Women’s Day.

The event brought together business leaders, charity representatives, youth workers and many more to discuss the issues around tackling violence against women and girls across Wiltshire and Swindon, and to ‘Inspire Inclusion’ across our region.

Attendees were inspired to consider how they might play their part, either as an individual or company to help achieve this.

While most women and girls enjoy a safe, fulfilled life in Wiltshire many don’t; harassment, gender-based violence, discrimination and stereotyping are still commonplace.

Attendees heard from a range of thought-provoking speakers about their courageous, though in some cases, harrowing experiences which highlighted some of the real challenges women and girls face.

Opening the event, the Marchioness of Lansdowne continued her pledge to fight against domestic abuse in all its forms.  Reflecting on the event, the Marchioness said:

“I was so delighted to host such an extraordinary event at Bowood on Friday, bringing together so many people who worry about domestic abuse, with those who work tirelessly to improve the lives of those who are affected by it. There was such a positive charge in the room and a real feeling that we can improve things in Wiltshire by all working together. All the speakers were so inspiring and gave us all hope for a future of positive change to make DA in Wiltshire unacceptable.”  

Chief Constable, Catherine Roper from Wiltshire Police spoke about her passion for regaining public trust and confidence in Wiltshire Police, and highlighted the measures Wiltshire Police are putting in place to improve the outcomes in domestic abuse matters.

Partner and Team Leader in Wansbroughs’ Family team, Naomi Owen gave an honest account of her workload and the sobering admission that more than two thirds of her cases now have an element of domestic abuse attached to them.

Naomi moved on to introduce Rachaele Hambleton, a Sunday Times bestselling author and popular blogger, known for her open accounts of the highs and lows of family life.  As a survivor of domestic abuse herself, Rachaele provided the audience with an eye-opening account of her life and her experiences with the Police and Family Courts.  Today, Rachaele uses her experience to raise awareness of domestic abuse, support other women who have experienced domestic abuse and act as an ambassador for several leading charities.

Kate Rowland from the Swindon Domestic Abuse Support Service and Simon Cowley from the White Horse Federation spoke of the ‘Domestic Abuse Aware Schools Award,’ a pilot programme designed to increase early intervention and support for families to prevent future victims.

Hetti Barkworth-Nanton CBE, Chair of Refuge and Founder of The Joanna Simpson Foundation spoke of the current challenges in ensuring those experiencing domestic abuse get the help they need.  Since losing her best friend Jo Simpson who was brutally murdered by her estranged ex-husband Robert Brown, Hetti has campaigned tirelessly to support women and children experiencing domestic abuse. Together with Diana Parkes (Jo’s mother) Hetti successfully campaigned to Secretary of State for Justice Alex Chalk to block Brown’s early automatic release (due November 2023), which would otherwise have seen Brown released after having only served half of his 26-year sentence.

Closing the event, Fiona Oliver, Joint CEO at the Wiltshire Community Foundation (WCF) spoke of the vital charities already working tirelessly across Wiltshire and Swindon to support vulnerable women and girls. She highlighted the struggles these groups face as women and girls’ groups receive less than 2 percent of the UK’s total charitable giving leaving them chronically underfunded.

To address this, WCF has launched a dedicated fund to support local projects that challenge the inequality, abuse and discrimination experienced by women and girls and to advocate for change.

Ticket sales from the event included a donation to the new Women and Girls Fund, and together with a charity raffle and subsequent donations has helped to raise over £5000.00 for the Fund.

Commenting on the success of the event, Joint WCF Chief Executive Fiona Oliver said:

“We have been overwhelmed by the response to both the event and to our Women and Girls Fund. We are so grateful to everyone who attended and to our speakers who spoke so honestly and passionately about their experiences, fears, hopes and vision of how we can work together to bring about real change. We are now more determined than ever to make our county a fairer and safer place for all women and girls and we know that by working together we can make a real and lasting difference. We would like to say a huge thanks to Wansbroughs for becoming our first corporate partner for the fund and for sponsoring the event. Their support has made a huge difference.”

Naomi Owen, Partner and Team Leader at Wansbroughs said:

“We feel privileged to have organised such an important event in Wiltshire, and proud to see and hear so many people pledging to do more for victims of domestic abuse.  Alongside the work we do day to day for those who have suffered domestic abuse, we are committed to raising awareness and supporting our industry partners to improve the outcomes for victims. 

“We recognised the importance of the Women and Girls Fund early on and were delighted to become the first corporate sponsor of the Fund.” 

For further information about the event or to support the WCF’s Women and Girls Fund please visit: https://www.wiltshirecf.org.uk/about/women-and-girls-fund/

This event was hosted by the Marchioness of Lansdowne, organised by Wansbroughs and WCF, and sponsored by Wansbroughs.