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“You can’t beat a woman” – history of women’s refuges

Category: Uncategorised

We have been awarded a grant of £66,500 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) to document the history of domestic violence and the refuge movement, in partnership with Newham Asian Women’s project. ‘You can’t beat a woman’ is a two-year project, based in the East of England. It aims to bring to light the history of women's refuge work and its impact on the survivors who have used refuge services in the region. The project focuses on the history of the local campaigns of the 1970s and 1980s, led by women protesting for public acknowledgement that domestic violence was socially unacceptable and demanding protection for its victims. They set out to establish refuges providing temporary accommodation for women and their children, and were to have a major impact on women’s rights, feminist movements and local heritage. Now, thanks to National Lottery players, we will explore and preserve the memories of the women who pioneered the refuge movement in the East of England and East London. We will record interviews with founding members of Colchester & Tendring Women's Refuge and six other nearby refuges, together with founding members of services at Newham Asian Women’s Project in East London. By documenting the similarities and differences between these groups, we will provide a nuanced historical account of the creation and organisation of refuges in both areas. Alongside a newly developed website and curated exhibition, the project will help the local community to understand its hidden refuge heritage through a programme of talks. To ensure that these memories are preserved for future generations, the collected oral histories will be kept with the Essex Sound and Video Archive and Eastside Community History.
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