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A special event to celebrate West Mercia Women’s Aid 30 year anniversary will take place next month in Worcester.

The event – which will welcome comedian, actress and writer Jo Brand – will take place at The Old Rectifying House on Monday 11 March from 12midday to 2.00pm.

As keynote speaker Jo will focus on celebrating women; other speakers will include West Mercia Women’s Aid Chief Executive Jan Frances and Chair of the Trustees Nick Fisher.

The event will be attended by more than 60 local women including Ruth Jones, lecturer at The University of Worcester; Jo Anderson, Chief Officer at West Mercia Rape and Sexual Abuse Support Centre, representatives from organisations such as social services, solicitors, housing providers and charities as well as those who have been involved in the development of the women’s movement in West Mercia.


Jan Frances, Chief Executive of West Mercia Women’s Aid said : “Jo has been our Patron for 2 years and personifies all that is determined, enthusiastic and positive about women.  As an inspirational speaker, Jo will complement the theme of the event, celebrating the courage and motivation of the many service users we have worked with over the past 30 years.”

West Mercia Women’s Aid was launched in Hereford, where – as in other parts of the country – it grew out of the women’s movement of the late 1960s and early 70s, when the issue of violence in the home became a national focus.  The group came together made up entirely of committed volunteers, many of them survivors of domestic abuse.  The initial task was to raise awareness and lobby for services but the group soon realised the urgent need to provide support and a helpline and advocacy service was set up – again entirely run by volunteers – to support and provide practical assistance to women in Herefordshire.

Since then the organisation has gone from strength to strength; in May 2006, it took over both Worcester and Malvern’s Women’s Aid and Wyre Forest Women’s Aid and – in April 2007 – effected a full merger with Shropshire Women’s Aid becoming West Mercia Women’s Aid.  It now employs 44 staff and 12 volunteers, running a 24 hour helpline, 3 refuges and a well developed and expanding outreach service in each county, which includes the provision of community support to families in all three counties, group  programmes and links to education and employment opportunities.

West Mercia Women’s Aid is a full member of the Women’s Aid Federation of England; Jan Frances was Chair of the Women’s Aid National Board of Management for 4 years and continues to serve as a member of the National Board.