Local Charity Aurora New Dawn Scoops National Diversity Award for Gender

Aurora New Dawn, a Hampshire charity working with victims and survivors of domestic abuse and sexual violence have won a National Diversity Award in recognition of their contribution towards gender diversity and equality.

The charity was up against seven other UK-based organisations for the National Diversity Award in the category of Best Community Organisation for Gender including Asian Women Mean Business, Ladies Fighting Breast Cancer and the Muslim Women’s Network UK.

Chief Executive – and regular contributor to Star and Crescent – Shonagh Dillon said, “I can’t even begin to tell you how excited and proud we are to receive this award, which recognises the contribution we make to gender diversity in the community, not just in the services we deliver but in our campaigning, both nationally and locally.”

Announcing the win on Aurora’s Facebook page, Shonagh emphasised the role of supporters and survivors in securing the award.

We won. And that win is all down to you. Thank you to every one of you. So proud to stand alongside you all.”

Aurora was one of only a small handful of community organisations in the UK to make a direct submission to the United Nations when they reviewed the UK’s progress on delivering to its commitment to the Convention for the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) in 2013.

The charity has been the leading proponent on successful local campaigns for gender equality locally, including successfully lobbying on behalf of victims of sexual violence for the withdrawal of an invitation to Mike Tyson to speak in Portsmouth in in 2012. The campaign made national headlines.

Aurora New Dawn's National Diversity Award
Aurora New Dawn’s National Diversity Award

Aurora also supports national campaigns like No More Page 3 and Lose the Lads Mags and coordinates Portsmouth’s annual White Ribbon campaign to raise community awareness of domestic abuse and sexual violence.

As an openly feminist organisation – one of only a few working across Hampshire – Aurora has championed gender equality through its focus on the prevalence of violence against women in Portsmouth and the surrounding area.

Founded in 2011 by a small group of women with over 30 years collective experience of working in the violence and abuse sector, Aurora was created in direct response to the government’s programme of public sector cuts threatening service provision to victims and survivors of domestic abuse, sexual violence and stalking.

“From the very beginning, victims and survivors have been at the heart of what we do,” said Shonagh, “and this is still true today.”

More recently, Aurora New Dawn has led the way in creating and showcasing best practice in their sector, including becoming the first voluntary sector organisation in Hampshire to be awarded Leading Lights accreditation by the national agency Co-Ordinated Action Against Domestic Abuse (CAADA) for work with victims and survivors of domestic abuse.

The charity has been at the forefront of a number of national innovations in improving services for victims and survivors, including pioneering national best practice as part of the IRIS initiative to improve responses to domestic violence and abuse in the health care system.

In 2013, Aurora introduced a new programme, Aurora New Dawn DVA Cars (TM), supported by the Police and Crime Commissioner’s Office for Hampshire and the IOW, which won Lottery funding this year to expand the service across South East Hampshire over the next 3 years, in partnership with Hampshire Constabulary.

“We are incredibly proud of what we have achieved since we began,” said Shonagh, “particularly within the constraints of the current economic climate. We have grown from one paid member of staff in June 2011 to 5 trustees, 11 full time members of staff, 25 volunteers and 2 offices by 2015. We are a passionate, young and vibrant organisation and our aim is nothing short of ending domestic abuse and sexual violence.

“Achieving recognition from the National Diversity Awards in our first 5 years is an amazing achievement for the team and a great acknowledgement of the hard work of all our staff, volunteers and supporters.”