1750. Helen Sonoiki
Helen Ayodele Sonoiki, from Essex, is a domestic violence campaigner who runs her own event series ‘TAWA Chillout’ to provide dedicated information and support for women from BAME communities fleeing abuse.
Helen is a board member for national charity ‘Domestic Violence UK’, and set up her own event series ‘TAWA Chillout’, which stands for ‘Thinking Aloud with Ayo’, to raise further awareness and funds for the charity and provide a safe space, particularly for people from BAME backgrounds, to come together to discuss domestic abuse and tackle the stigma around leaving an abusive relationship. Through the event, Helen encourages donations for distribution at women’s shelters, and during lockdown, she sent out thousands of care packages to women fleeing abuse, as well as running ‘TAWA Chillout’ in a virtual capacity. Helen has also led media campaigns to highlight how domestic abuse can affect people of any gender, ethnicity or sexuality.
In a personal letter to Helen, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said:
“I was inspired to learn of your ‘Thinking Aloud with Ayo Chillout’ groups, in collaboration with ‘Domestic Violence UK’, where people come together to discuss domestic violence and tackle the stigma around leaving abusive relationships.
“Your sessions provide a unique space for men and women from BAME backgrounds to speak to others about the horrors of domestic abuse, and also seek support if they need it. It is a fantastic initiative helping people at very vulnerable times.”
“I am truly humbled and honoured to have been nominated for and then receive this award. It is truly a blessing to be recognised for doing something that you love. ‘Domestic Violence UK’ are a phenomenal charity that are doing so much to support victims and survivors of domestic abuse. I have great pleasure organising and hosting the TAWAChillout event as it gives me the opportunity to raise issues of domestic abuse to both men and women of BAME background in a unique yet impactful way. I must thank all who have attended the event over the years for making what I do such a pleasure. I am very proud that we have been able to raise funds and awareness for this cause. Thank you sincerely.”
Picture credit: SenPix Photos