Lucy’s Update

Welcome to our March Newsletter – it has been an incredible month for Alpha Vesta with some exciting new projects in the pipeline.  We are blown away by the continued support we receive that enables us to explore new ways in which to engage, educate and empower our workforces and communities.

During February and in the build up to Valentine’s Day, we launched our campaign ‘Love at the Movies – What’s love got to do with it?’.  Read our blog here to learn more about our campaign and the results of the campaign’s public survey.

On Wednesday 8 March, we attended the High Sheriff’s Awards for Essex which was a wonderful way to end International Women’s Day 2023. We were invited to attend the event to collect our award in recognition of valuable service to community safety in the County and the launch of our new ‘Turning the Tide’ Family Programme.  This new project will be run throughout Essex in our ‘Breaking the Cycle Hubs’ from May, so watch this space for more information next month.  Each year, the High Sheriff gives financial support to voluntary organisations for initiatives that are helping to tackle crime, community safety and anti-social behaviour in their local area or across the County and we were delighted to be acknowledged for our work.

Lucy Whittaker with High Sheriff of Essex, Nicholas Alston CBE DL.

Picture left to right: Lucy Whittaker with High Sheriff of Essex, Nicholas Alston CBE DL.

The traditional role of the High Sheriff is to meet and encourage all those working within the criminal justice system: our judges, magistrates and court services; the police, probation and prison services; and the many other organisations that directly support the working of the system.  However, building and sustaining safer communities needs much more that an effective criminal justice system and it was a honour to attend the awards alongside amazing organisations that seek in different ways to prevent crime, to support victims and more generally enrich communities.  It is clear that by working together across the statutory, community and voluntary sector a deeper collaboration can be found to address many of the issues faced, including the impact of domestic abuse.

As part of the evening, we were shortlisted alongside some wonderful organisations for the Essex Police Cup award.  I am not ashamed to say that when we were announced as the winners, I was completely overwhelmed.  The award was presented to us by Chief Constable of Essex Police, BJ Harrington and I am very grateful for his kind words of support to recognise the work we are so passionate about.

Lucy Whittaker

Picture left to right: Chief Constable of Essex Police, BJ Harrington, Julie Bell, Lucy Whittaker, Caroline Judd and High Sheriff of Essex, Nicholas Alston CBE DL.

BBC Essex broadcasted the event live on the night and you can hear all of the highlights for the next few weeks on BBC Sounds.

Our Team were not alone this month in receiving an award, because one of our Founding Ambassadors, Natalie Queiroz, also received a very special award at Windsor Castle.  Please scroll on to hear more about one of the newest Members of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (MBE)! 

Next month, we will be hearing from our newest Alpha Vesta Ambassador who took up their role this month, as well as how our Community Advocate Scheme will be further rolled out across Essex.

In our ‘Domestic Abuse in the News’ section, I have highlighted a couple of articles that really emphasise the ripple effect of domestic abuse on both adults and children.   The first is of the Conservative MP,  Mark Fletcher, who has opened up around his experience of domestic abuse as a child between his mother and step-father.  It’s encouraging to hear men talk about their experiences as both girls and boys are affected by domestic abuse in childhood. 

The second is a research article published by Shelter around children who have to leave their home and move into temporary accommodation and the impact it has on their education. The third article is a report published by the Sex Education Forum, that explores the lack of knowledge amongst young people around healthy and unhealthy relationships as well as broader subject matters such as bullying and sexuality. 

These are all powerful research articles and testimonies that highlight the importance of awareness, prevention and early intervention.

I would also like to highlight two amazing documentaries within the ‘Social Media Murders’ season 2 series, which is currently available to watch on ITVX.  Both of these look at two domestic homicides with powerful insight from those that were around at the time of the relationships sharing what they saw and heard as well as the impact it had on them including family, friends, neighbours, colleagues, community and statutory services.

Lucy Whittaker

Lucy Whittaker

Founding Director and Lead Trainer of Alpha Vesta CIC

Natalie Queiroz – Picking up my MBE!!!

On Tuesday 28th February I woke up, slightly nervous, in a hotel across the road from Windsor Castle, with my husband beside me and my 2 older daughters in the room next door. We were all down in Windsor ready to go to my investiture ceremony to be held that morning. 

As part of the late Her Majesty The Queen’s birthday honours list last June, I was named on the MBE award list for ‘Services To Young People and the Prevention of Knife Crime’. I was deeply honoured to have not only be nominated (completely unbeknownst to me that two people had done that!) but to be selected to receive the privilege of becoming an official ‘Member of the British Empire’ (MBE). 

Clearly this is extremely special in itself but the fact it was the Queen’s Jubilee, and as we now know, tragically her final honours list, made it even more poignant. 

Since my attempted murder by my (then) partner back in early 2016, whilst I was 8 months pregnant with our baby, I have completely re-evaluated my life direction and found, I feel, my true purpose. A lot of my work is focussed on young people – especially those from a more vulnerable background, where in a majority of cases, they have been victims of domestic abuse. 

So, back to Tuesday February 28th 2023; For such a huge occasion, I felt enough justification to buy a posh new outfit (my usual attire of jeans and Nike Air Force 1 trainers just weren’t going to cut it!), and as per guidance from the Palace – a new hat, or in my case, a fancy fascinator! My teenage daughters and husband were also dressed up in their best outfits and looked amazing, as ever! 

We arrived at the Palace at 09:30am and after lots of security checks and many warm welcomes from different members of staff as well as heartfelt congratulations from them all, we were taken into some incredible rooms inside Windsor Castle as we waited for my turn. It was fascinating seeing inside it. It is a beautiful building, and rather poignant I felt to be there rather than Buckingham Palace, as it is obviously where the late Queen is laid to rest and the MBE was still in her name. 

The Princess Royal – Princess Anne – awarded me my medal – hanging it on my jacket. We spoke for a few minutes and I was taken by how she remembered the details she had been clearly briefed with about my story (bearing in mind I was about the 45th person she had awarded something to that day – including a knighthood, some CBEs and OBEs ahead of me!). We discussed issues around youth violence and the work I do. It was the most incredible moment and one I will remember for many years to come. 

I now have the medal safely at home alongside the scroll you get declaring your MBE status. I now have quite a few photos to frame alongside the scroll so I can bore people for years to come telling them about my day at the Castle!

Natalie Queiroz MBE

Dates for the Diary

Advanced: Core 5 Understanding Risk Support & Safety Planning

Advanced: Core 5 Understanding Risk Support & Safety Planning

29 March 2023

Click on the above link to access the Eventbrite link to book your place 

Enhanced Core 4: The Impact of Domestic Abuse on Children & Young People - Extra Familial Harm

Enhanced Core 4: The Impact of Domestic Abuse on Children & Young People - Extra Familial Harm

17 April 2023

Click on the above link to access the Eventbrite link to book your place.

Enhanced Core 3: Developing a Workplace Response to Domestic Abuse

Enhanced Core 3: Developing a Workplace Response to Domestic Abuse

24 April 2023

Click on the above link to access the Eventbrite link to book your place 

National Support & Help

National 24hr Domestic Abuse Helpline 0808 2000 247 For women and children experiencing domestic abuse

Men’s Advice Line 0808 801 0327 For men experiencing domestic abuse

RESPECT 0808 802 4040 For those concerned that they may be using abusive behaviours

NSPCC Helpline 0808 800 5000 If you are concerned about a child

Samaritans 116 123 For those struggling in terms of their mental health and feeling in crisis

NCDV 0800 970 2070 free, fast emergency injunction service for survivors of domestic abuse

Essex Regional Support & Help

Alpha Vesta 01245 791281 For employers and employees concerned about a staff member

Compass 0330 333 7 444 Compass is being delivered by a consortium of established domestic abuse support agencies including; Safe Steps, Changing Pathways and The Next Chapter. The aim is to provide a single point of access for callers to speak with a trained member of staff who will complete an assessment and ensure contact is made with the most appropriate support service.

The Change Project 01245 258 680 Committed to preventing conflict in relationships and working with both perpetrators, victims and their children.

Alpha Vesta’s Collated National & Regional Support Services (click here to access document)

Lottery Community Fund
Police, fire and crime commissioner for essex

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