Founder and CEO of Sistah Space
Ngozi Fulaniby Jenny Smith
Introducing the wonderful change maker Ngozi Fulani.
Back in 2020 in the midst of lockdown I launched a project called Front Door Photo to raise money for victims of domestic violence. The topic has always been close to my heart ever since a friend took her own life following years of domestic abuse. As a result I have always kept a keen eye on the charities out there doing their bit to help women and children escape such horrors. This is where I first came across Ngozi Fulani and her charity Sistah Space who support victims of domestic abuse in the African and Caribbean community in the UK.
A shocking 86% of African and/or Caribbean heritage women living in the UK have either been a victim of domestic abuse or know a family member who has been assaulted. And yet there is no dedicated refuge for these women to go where their cultural differences will be recognised. Ngozi and Sistah Space are fundraising to correct this and you can donate to that campaign HERE.
I am so delighted that Ngozi agreed to be part of my 40 OVER 40 project. Please read what she has to say about her charity and what more needs to be done to support these women fleeing terrifying situations in their own homes.
Thank you Ngozi.
What is Sistah Space and why did you set it up?
Sistah Space is a charity dedicated to supporting African and Caribbean heritage women and girls affected by domestic and sexual abuse. I attended the court case of a woman called Valerie Forde and her 23-month-old daughter Real Jahzara (Baby RJ), who were tragically murdered by the ex-partner of Valerie in 2014. Valerie had reported her perpetrator Roland Mckoy’s threats of burning her and their children in their house to the police weeks before the murder took place. But the police had been utterly dismissive of the information she had given them of her perpetrator and without any follow up on the report, the threat had been negligently recorded as a threat to property rather than a threat to life.
This tragic event highlights the need for organisations like Sistah Space to continue to tackle the issues, injustices and mistreatments of African and Caribbean heritage women and girls experiencing domestic and sexual abuse.
Tell me about your PHD and why you’re doing it
The PhD research is the study of Valerie's Law and looks at the barriers to black women reporting abuse. Valerie’s Law aims to provide mandatory training for the police and other government agencies to have basic knowledge on how to support a black woman affected by domestic and sexual abuse as we have not been given the same consideration and support as other races. As with every culture, the black community has a plethora of colloquialisms, languages and customs within itself that have to be acknowledged and understood in mainstream institutions to better protect black women fleeing violence. Without a basic understanding of these cultural differences it's impossible for police officers and service providers to make sure black women are equally protected in the UK.
Tell us about the shelter you’re raising money for. Why is it important for women of African heritage to have their own shelter?
The campaign for a refuge for black women has been going for over five years. There are no safe spaces for black women specifically (Not BAME) run by and for domestic abuse survivors. We often experience stereotypes which impacts us and our ability to access services and support negatively. We are often asked to show our bruises when we report abuse, but it is important to remember that there is always bruising, however, it is not always physical. At Sistah Space we make sure that cultural factors are really understood. Sadly there are many cultural barriers and biases in existence and we make sure to remove those so that every person who walks through our door is given equal support.
The police often use white-british standards to risk assess black women in violent situations. Bruises on black skin are not as visible as on white skin and the police need to be educated in this very simple thing.
How can people get involved with Sister Space?
You can get involved with Sistah Space in a number of ways. Volunteering, donating (financially or donations of brand new items for our shop) by attending Valerie's Law training, by promoting the work we do. The list is endless.
Describe yourself in three words.
Wakanda, Women Kings
Thank you so much Ngozi for being part of my 40 OVER 40 project. You are a living legend, making a difference every single day to so many.
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