A WOMEN’S charity providing specialist BME support. advice and safe refuge to victims of domestic abuse in Coventry was visited by The Duchess of Cornwall to pay tribute to the work it undertakes.
Panahghar was Camilla’s last destination on Tuesday when she came to the city with husband Prince Charles to celebrate the UK City of Culture and a variety of the city’s organisations.
The charity has been supporting Black Minoritised Ethnic (BME) Women and their families of domestic, sexual and other gendered abuse for over 40 years across Coventry, Leicester and the West Midlands.
Founded in 1979 in Coventry, the name Panahghar is an Urdu word meaning ‘safehouse’ and was specifically chosen so that Asian women could understand what Panahghar stood for – a place of safety and protection.
During the visit, The Duchess met with the service users and support staff at Panahghar to hear about their experiences and the impact of the pandemic.
Over the last year, Panahghar saw a record number of calls to its helpline and a rise in service users needing support in the community, as well as refuge accommodation.
The refuge and support services were accessed 24 hours-a-day, 365 days-a-year and during 2020, more than 87 women and 74 children in refuge alone.
Sandra Manak, Panahghar’s Interim CEO, said: “The last year has been difficult for everyone and especially for BME women’s refuges across the country.
“We have had to adapt our support services around Covid restrictions and keep the safety of our service users and support staff a key priority.
“I am very proud to lead such a dedicated team.”
Speaking after the visit, Mrs Manak said it was wonderful to welcome the Duchess and to be recognised for the hard work and commitment offered to the community and service users on a daily basis.
“This has been a very good opportunity for us to highlight the issues that BME women experience as well as the importance of retaining specialist BME services such as ours.
“We hope to continue to grow and enhance our services.”
In meeting with The Duchess, one of the service users said, ‘they were happy to meet Her Royal Highness and talk about their journey’.
The Duchess of Cornwall praised the service users in sharing with her their experiences as well as commending Panahghar’s staff team for their hard work, especially during the pandemic after being given a real insight into the challenges faced by service users and staff.