A Christmas Thank You

We would like to thank the members of our Community who have donated gifts and money to Oasis this Christmas. Without your support we would be unable to provide a festive meal on Christmas day, Christmas decorations for our refuges or presents for children who have been forced to leave their homes, we are truly grateful for your kindness.

Here are just some of the amazing people who have donated this Christmas:

Boys & Maughan Solicitors donated food, toiletries and gifts

Dover District Council raised £92.28 from their Christmas Jumper Day

The Pavilion Youth and Community Café raised £200 from their Christmas Wish fundraiser

Thanet Lions donated Christmas gifts

Concept Life Sciences raised £86.84 from a Christmas bake sale

Mary Rubie and Lorna Blackburn raised £520 from their Christmas quiz at The Northwood Club

The Rotary Club of Ramsgate organised a toy run around at local schools and donated a large amount of toys

Project Linus donated handmade blankets and quilts

Tesco Extra raised £103.00 by holding a beauty lucky dip

HMP Standford Hill donated advent calendars for all of the children

Café G raised £500 from 2 quiz nights and a raffle

ALDI donated food as part of their Christmas Eve Food Surplus initiative

Whitstable Mums donated Christmas gifts for Mums and children

Urchin Wines held a raffle at their Mulled Wine event

Dogs Trust donated Christmas gifts and toiletries to our residents

Windsor House Care Home donated Christmas gifts

Your Fundraising Efforts

We are so fortunate to have a fantastic community who fundraise, volunteer and donate. Below is some of the work that's been done to help keep people in Kent safe. A massive thank you to everyone who has helped.

True Friends 

The Friends of Oasis committee continue with their incredible fundraising events in support of our clients. Recent events include a guided walk around Quex Gardens raising £250 and their 4th lunch at The Yarrow Hotel. This year 110 guests were treated to a 3 course lunch, beautifully prepared and served by the students. Also present were staff from Santander’s Margate branch who kindly match-funded the event, bringing the total raised to £2,997.00.

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Darwin Court

Thank you to the residents of Darwin Court who raised £1,000 for Oasis through a variety of events throughout the year. We are so thankful for your support.  

Margate Operatic Society 

We were delighted to have been chosen as the local charity of the Margate Operatic Society at their AGM. Thank you for the kind donation of £300. 


Thank you Dreamland for choosing Oasis as one of your charities supported by your summer Variety events, £150 was raised through a collection and a raffle and the night was a huge success.  

Wilkes Ltd

David & Rebecca from Broadstairs Chiropractic Clinic hosted another fundraiser for Oasis with a guess the baby weight competition. Thank you to your customers for raising £130 for Oasis and congratulations on the arrival of your baby girl.  

Brighton Marathon, Lakesman and Ride London  

Ian Dodds took part in 3 big endurance events this year, focusing on raising funds for domestic violence charities. Along with Refuge we were delighted to have been chosen by Ian and have received over £620! Ian said about Oasis ‘In my role as a Children's Social Worker; I have to access their advice, support and services far more regularly than I'd like and they play an essential role in helping people escape and prevent abuse.’ 

Massive congratulations on running your first ever marathon, first half iron distance and a grueling 100 mile bike ride in the rain! We are so grateful for your support.

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Thames Trudge  

We were so grateful to be one of the charities chosen by Tilly, Janice and Josh who walked the length of the Thames in lots of rain and wind (and a little bit of sun) raising £1,012.38 for Oasis!  We are thankful for all of the hard work you put in to fundraising by organising bake sales and a quiz and curry night. 

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Anchorage Marathon 

Thank you Tristan Honeyborne for going all the way to Alaska (!) to run your first marathon and for choosing Oasis as one of your charities. We are so thankful for the £308 you have raised.  

Colourthon Moonlight Walk 

Huge thank you to Kerry Crossley and friends for taking part in The Colourthon walk around Southend by night. We are so grateful for the £272 you raised, and we hope you had fun by the seaside! 

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London 2 Brighton Challenge 

Thank you Tyrone Austin for raising £456 on the 100km walk from London to Brighton and for dedicating this challenge to our mutual friend and colleague Aimee-Jane Connell. With your help we can continue helping families affected by abuse.  

National Citizen Service 

Thirteen 16-17 year olds took part in a sponsored walk from Dreamland to Viking Bay and back, a sponsored cycle and a pub quizraising over £700 for Oasis. Thank you for your enthusiasm and dedication to raising awareness about domestic abuse.  

Red, White and Blue Ball 

Thank you to the North and South Thanet Conservative Associations for donating £365.00 from your Red, White and Blue Ball.  

The cheque was presented to Claire Fenley, Community Fundraiser by Lynne Conolly, Sam Bambridge and Carol Messenger. 

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Tesco Bags of Help 

Thanks to a grant from Tesco Bags of Help, we were awarded a grant of £4000 towards our Blossom project! Voting ran in Ramsgate branches of Tesco over the summer with customers voting for which local charity they would like to get the top award. Thank you to everyone who used their blue token to bag us this grant! Tesco image

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Santander Foundation 

Thank you to The Santander Foundation who awarded us a £5,000 grant as part of their Discovery Project. This money will go towards our Blossom Project which offers support with employability and obtaining skills for life.   

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From everyone at Oasis, Thank You.

A Year of Celebration

On the 12th September in our weekly Support Group we celebrated Rosh Hashanah the Jewish New year. We made marzipan fruits and had an enormous feast of sweet foods including hot apple pie & cream, cupcakes, chocolate biscuits & apples dipped in honey.  

At the end of the morning we all walked to the sea front blowing our Shorfa (Rams trumpet horn) and then we threw breadcrumbs into the sea. This symbolises throwing out your sins but we threw away our worries.  

This event is another of our 'Year of Celebration' events celebrating cultural and religious festivals at our Support Group. Thank you to KCC members Councillors Emma Dawson and Lesley Game for this grant enabling us to offer our clients the chance to share their beliefs and traditions. 

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Power and Control on the Pitch

Power and Control on the Pitch

This week’s match (England V Columbia) was a masterclass in boundary management, and a great insight into the types of behaviours, born of fear and insecurity, that some will use in order to try to dominate others.

Colombia used harassment, tension building, violence, threatening behaviour, sabotage and intimidation throughout the match, and fair play to England, they did a good job of not letting that get under their skin. We all know that we should form our networks from sound people who help us progress our lives, but the reality is that sometimes you just get trapped on a pitch with people who want to win by bringing you down. It is a truth that some people function by sucking power from those around them with behaviours that drain.  The England team modelled handling that with dignity.

Let’s transpose that to getting trapped in your home with that behaviour. To having to fend off the above tactics of domination each and every day, of having children in the mix, financial pressures, loss of your support network and let’s imagine how hard it is to defend those boundaries.

England players train in sports psychology and Gareth Southgate has learnt the power of the mind on the pitch the hard way. But most people don’t, most people don’t fall in love with an attitude that they are playing a game. Most people fall in love and love the fact that they can become vulnerable, because being vulnerable with the person closest to us should be possible, it should be liberating and that other should be someone to whom we can entrust that vulnerability.

But when you love and the other person has issues with power and domination, when they need your power to feel powerful themselves – your vulnerability becomes their leverage. The digging away at you becomes the way in which your space to breathe, to think, to function, to make decisions becomes eroded.

Football players know that the game can only last so long, that there is always an ending. But what about in the home environment – can the person who wants to control you, to take your power, deal with endings? No, they can’t, not unless it is on their terms. They don’t get to the end of the game and have a cry with frustration. They think ‘how dare you?’ and they up the ante. After sometimes years of ‘partnership’, of being lifted up and shoved down, of trying to make do and make the best of, of becoming more and more trapped by insidious and harmful behaviours the ending can be the worst part and the most unpredictable.

Oasis helps thousands of people affected by abuse in the home each year, and around 60 of those travel through our refuge services, places of safety, places where women and children who are too unsafe, who have found the courage and opportunity to leave and find respite. Every year we are touched by their courage, their determination to say ’No more’, but we never underestimate how hard it has been to make that change, and we honour all of those who aren’t able to yet. Because, if we can see the psychology of this behaviour and how it is used to try to affect outcome in a 90 minute game, then we know that leaving after years of it is a tremendously difficult thing to do.

Unfortunately, abuse in the home goes up 25% when England play, 36% when England lose and 11% the day after. During this match we saw so many mini-incidents that remind us why we do the work we do, and every single one of them has the potential to be understood by people all around the country as representative of what has to be endured by some on a daily basis. Thinking about these behaviours through the lens of this game might help us to spread the message of compassion for those who have to experience the power and control of the pitch as their daily life.

Tags: UK Says No More, Safe Lives, Women’s Aid, Surviving Economic Abuse

#whydoesnthejuststop? #ENGCOL #domesticabuse #saveourrefuge

Oasis Golf Day Raises over £10,000

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The Oasis golf day on Friday 15th June at North Foreland Golf Club has raised over £10,000 for Oasis Domestic Abuse Service.  

A total of 80 players took to the fairways for a shotgun start, following coffee and bacon rolls in the clubhouse, and played 18 holes in the sunshine on North Foreland’s beautiful course. The headline sponsor was Rotary Club of Thanet. 

On course, players were treated to whiskey and champagne, served by event sponsor Artemis Recruitment on the 10th Tee, while a Mini convertible, donated by Barretts Group of Canterbury , advertising auction prize 'Win a Mini for the weekend' was on display on the 18th Tee.  

Taking first place was Trevor Brown's team with a score of 90 points with the Team captained by Jane Pace coming not far behind in 2nd with 88 points. In 3rd place was Ann Gardner's Team with 87 points. Lee Hack hit Nearest the Pin on the 7th hole and Jill Lamerton was Nearest the Line on the 10th. All winners received golfing prizes generously arranged by club professional Darren Parris, presented by Club Captain Stuart Barr and sponsored by Lanes Printers of Broadstairs.  

In the evening, guests were treated to a 2 course meal with live music from Paul Messenger, aka Onelove , which was followed by an entertaining charity auction expertly run by Club Chairman Mike Bastow and Former Chairman Keith Rumblo. All of the funds raised through the auction and raffle were generously matched by Barclays Bank, whose staff also attended, helping to boost the charity pot and raise extra, valuable funds for those affected by Domestic Abuse. 

The event was well-supported by local businesses, 18 of which sponsored tees on the course.  

Speaking on behalf of Headline Sponsor, The Rotary Club of Thanet, Neal Elliott said, "Over the years the Rotary Club has raised considerable funds for Oasis through their annual Boxing Gala which is held in collaboration with the Ramsgate Boxing Club. We were delighted to be the main sponsors of the Oasis Golf Day 2018, which through the tireless work of the organising committee has been a sell-out, and a guaranteed success"


Oasis Ambassador Training Event

We recently held a training opportunity for our volunteers who were interested in becoming an Oasis Ambassador, or who were keen to develop their confidence, self-esteem and public speaking skills. The event was hosted by the inimitable Barbara Sturgeon, award winning BBC Radio presenter and journalist.  

Our volunteers were really excited and got stuck in to learning how to use a microphone, how to project their voice, and exercises designed to overcome any shyness they may have had around public speaking. Those that attended stated that they ‘felt really positive’ having completed the training, with one person feeding back that: 'This gave me the confidence to achieve what I want to do, and change people's lives'.  

Our new Oasis Ambassadors will now be supported in their volunteer roles, as they begin to speak at local community events and groups, spreading the Oasis message, and raising awareness of the vital work that we do.  

Interested in becoming an Ambassador? Contact us at volunteer@oasisdaservice.org for further details.  

Oasis Celebrates Wesak!

As part of our ongoing celebrations of different world religions and cultures, we observed Wesak or ‘Buddha Day’ at our Support Group today. Wesak is the celebration of the life, enlightenment and death of Buddha. It is the most important of all Buddhist festivals.


Our Peer Mentors led this event, and had been working hard to organise decorations for the day, and to get all of our residents to make paper lanterns to use within the celebration, reflecting traditions from Thailand and Indonesia.

During the support group, we took part in several activities, such as ‘bathing Buddha’ in scented water from wooden bowls. We used this time to reflect on the tradition of purifying our minds and releasing our negative thoughts. We also adapted the tradition of released caged birds, symbolising letting our troubles go free, by blowing bubbles around the room.

Our Support Group took turns to add their own colours to a mandala that was passed around the group, which looked beautiful when it was finished. After this, we sat down to share a vegetarian meal which had been cooked by our Peer Mentors and the Support Group listened to one of our women talking to us about their Buddhist beliefs and practices, to help us all get a greater understanding of the Buddhist principles.

We finished the morning off by having a group meditation practice, led by one of the staff, which encouraged us to focus on compassion and love. This moment of calm and quiet was really popular with the group.

Everyone had a fabulous morning, where we shared a lot of love and laugher, as well as growing in our knowledge about this culture and world belief. One attendee to the group said that ‘this morning felt like I was home, like I was part of a family gathering’.

Our next celebration will be in June, where we will learn more about the Islamic tradition of Eid.

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Blooming Strong

The Oasis Support Group and Margate Women’s Institute worked tirelessly to ensure that our ‘Blooming Strong’ campaign was a resounding success; designed to raise awareness of domestic abuse whilst recognising the emotional resilience and strength of local women.

Between them, the groups made over 150 beautiful flowers which were handed out to women at the International Women’s Day coffee morning at Cliffs, and at The Oasis Shop.

Celebrating the Blooming Strong women in our lives

Celebrating the Blooming Strong women in our lives


Jodie Nesling has raised over £1,600 (!) by running the London Marathon for Oasis. Read her heartwarming and humorous account of the day below.

The London Marathon

I trained in arctic conditions with a body built for writing and drinking but I ran the London Marathon for charity in searing heat -  it is one of the best things I have ever done and below is a brief account.


My mum and sister suggest I should ‘carb up’ so order a massive chinese. A reminder of when one my best friend Genevieve lovingly received a KFC bucket after a horrendous labour: both not advisable but well-intentioned. I don’t feel nervous. Fitness trainer Jason Turner who has broken me with kettle bells has been positive and encouraging, I feel I can take on the world...and a chinese.


I’m sunburnt, emotional and hitting the wall; this is before getting off the train at Stratford. I meet a group of runners on the Jubilee Line. We chat like you never do on the tube: one young woman secured a marathon place through the ballot, she is cheerful and wearing energy gels around her waist like a nightclub shot-girl, she is also wearing a Macmillan sponsorship top. I ask why she is running for a big charity. “My dad died six weeks ago,” she replies and hangs her head so long plaits swing forward. These are the first tears of the day, the first hugs and the first time I think this experience with strangers is a social anomaly that should be celebrated with every fibre of our being.


After about a three-mile walk to the starting pen (cheeky swines!) the melee share anticipation, nerves and camaraderie. I make friends with a giant apple and tell him I have lost my tracker. I glance to see if anyone else has. They haven’t, not even the apple. I reach the starting line at 11am conscious my running mate Mo will be at the halfway point. I step over the line undramatically and start to run. I feel good.  This is a piece of piss!


I am  head-to-toe in black and the sun beats down without respite. There is no breeze and no shade.  I know without checking that this will be the hottest marathon day on record. I can’t cool down. The miles go by and the crowd blare out DnB, hold out banners, cheer my name and high-five as I go past. Somebody manages to get a horse to stand on something and poke its head over a fence. Do I have heat stroke?


More best friends:  Kate (who chose to spend her birthday supporting me) and John come into view which is amazing considering I have no tracker. It is immense and gives me a great boost especially after a kid turns to his mother and asks why we are running so slowly, to which she responds, “some of the runners have medical conditions” - mine is ‘journalist who ate chinese before the race and is wearing black.’


Running over Tower Bridge is mesmerising -being part of the bobbing throng of costumes, trainers and sweat at the heart of our beautiful capital is an unforgettable moment... but realising you are only half way is also pretty tough. Docklands follows and is very hard. But again, testament to this race,  it is as if by magic, I bump into a friend. The weird thing is I do not see Kirsty at first but recognise the face on the poster she is holding from Facebook (her friend who tragically died of cancer). I look up and see Kirsty, looking impeccable in a summer dress, I wipe all my sweat over her and carry on, she doesn’t mind.

The crowd cheers at every bend and seeing sagging spirits wills them with absolute love and determination: people from every facet of life screaming their hearts out just because they want you to finish a race. It’s ridiculous. There is comedy:  a man holds a sign that reads ‘shout if you agreed to do this when you were drunk!’ I shout and he instantly responds ‘of course you did Jodie!’

The atmosphere is insane. I can’t get my head around it.


I see  Kate and John again. I am struggling and overheating. A stranger gives me a bottle of water. It is too painful to walk so I keep running, I am exhausted from the heat, my back which gave way before the race, is in agony. I seriously want to give up. Someone offers me a sausage roll (see comments on chinese and KFC.) Three boys give me ice to put on my neck. I want to cry.


At mile 21 a remarkable thing happens: the second wind. I have many of these on drinking benders but never running. The utterly brilliant, brilliant, brilliant (yeah it deserves three) running club,  Run Dem Crew are stationed at Whitechapel. They have been there for hours and are partying and shouting names like it is the first five minutes. They are shouting my name. It is immense and then The Proclaimers start to blare out. I think to myself, I will walk 500 miles. I will do that, ok I will…. it carries me. This moment is pivotal, transcendental, second wind, second coming...I am running through it. It isn’t quite ‘runner’s high’ though - I am expecting psychedelia and rainbows with that.


I see my family, they are all hammered outside the Liberty Bell near Tower Hill. I am too tired to stop but it was pure chance. Again. It makes so, so happy but I can’t convey it as I’m broken.


I think it is mile 22 and my heart soars.


The pain in my face is very visible. ““Keep going Jodie, you’re a hero!” Am I? Thank you complete stranger.


I run through, I am finishing the London Marathon and in six hours (which I am pleased with) I am having an out of body experience and I am very confused but I have a medal and I can’t stop looking at it.


I have a beer in the pub. I can’t walk as my legs seized up as I sat next to Nelson’s Column after the race. Friends together with a group of complete strangers give me a standing ovation and I have never felt so proud. My mum looks at me like we have won the lottery.

David Bowie was right, you can be a hero….just for one day.

A great big thanks to all who sponsored (some complete strangers, amazing) and supported me on the day (Kate, John, Mum, Kieron, Kirsty, Lou, Rodders, Megan, Linda..etc) Massive thanks to training legend Jason Turner for always being so proud! And Eddie Gadd, Sue Fisher, Jon Stringer and Phil Leader for Joderunner beer.

It has been a privilege to raise money for families torn apart by domestic abuse but I am never doing this again!


Your Fundraising Efforts

Your Fundraising Efforts

We are so fortunate to have a fantastic community who fundraise, volunteer and donate. Below is some of the work that's been done to help keep people in Kent safe. A massive thank you to everyone who has helped.

International Women's Day

International Women’s Day on 8th March is an opportunity for us to celebrate the brave women in our community who have had the courage to walk away from abuse into happier futures. This year it coincided with 100 years of women’s suffrage and we would like to thank South Thanet Conservative Association who donated the proceeds of their special event to Oasis, donating more than £1000 to our cause.

We would also like to thank Oasis volunteer Nicki Miles who hosted a fantastic International Women’s Day coffee morning at Cliff’s raising over £400.

Grosvenor Casino Quiz

We have now held two great quiz nights at Grosvenor Casinos with teams of eager masterminds answering questions from Quizmaster Glen Woodward shown here in a photograph with the Fundraising Team.

Each event raised more than £1,000. Thank you to everyone who came and enjoyed the evening. Huge thanks to Grosvenor Casino Thanet for hosting this fun charity quiz and to Barclays for helping with match funding.

Save the date for the next Quiz 17th October 8pm. Email fundraise@oasisdaservice.org for more details.

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Herne Bay Little Theatre Panto

The Herne Bay Little Theatre invited Oasis to attend their fantastic pantomime in December. Oasis were chosen to be their charity for the week, and a staggering £725 was raised for us! Special thanks to The Playmakers and The Butcher’s Arms Micropub for their donations.  

Bernie's Comedy Night

Bernie’s Chocolate Bar held another stand-up comedy night for Oasis raising £142.

Caroline Buckley

Raised £265.23 from a Christmas gig at The Chapel, Broadstairs. Accompanied by Frances Knight and Colin Smith

Asda Green Token Giving

A Huge Thank You to the customers of Asda Broadstairs who voted for us in Asda Green Token Giving scheme. We are delighted to have received a cheque for £500 from Community Champion Tracey Ballard.

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Hairspray Ramsgate

Thank you to the staff and customers of Hairpsray Ramsgate for raising a fantastic £510 from your Christmas raffle. It was lovely meeting you all, we're really grateful for your support.

St Marks Thursday Fellowship Group

One of our fantastic Oasis Ambassadors gave a short presentation to this group in March, explaining the importance of the work that Oasis do across Thanet and Dover. Our Ambassador was delighted to be handed a donation of £25 which will ensure that we can continue with our vital work.  

Thanet Active Retirement Association

TARA is a club of over 150 active and retired men and women from across the East Kent region of Thanet, who were extremely busy during 2017, organising lots of different activities such as walks and Zumbathons in order to raise money for Oasis, as their nominated charity. They raised an enormous £1312 in total! 


Toys for Treatment

Heartfelt thanks to David & Rebecca Wilkes from Broadstairs Chiropractic Clinic for organising a Treatment for Toys day and for gathering so much support from the community.

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Art's Cool Leeds vs Margate Scene Swap

Art's Cool and Come Play With Me organised a scene swap gig consisting of 4 bands from Margate and 4 bands from Leeds. Playing in two towns in two days, the proceeds of the Margate event, a fantastic £400 were donated to Oasis!

Sausage Sizzle

Four of our hardy volunteers braved the cold weather to do a ‘Sausage Sizzle’ at Bunnings’ Warehouse Broadstairs, raising £229 for Oasis! 

Big Mouth Chorus

We were lucky enough to attend the BIGMOUTH Chorus Friends and Family Christmas concert at Dreamland which raised an incredible £416 for Oasis.

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From everyone at Oasis, Thank You.

Females Unite

Contemporary Jewellery Designer Esa Evans is celebrating 100 years of women’s suffrage with the launch of her ‘Females Unite’ statement necklace and will be donating 20% of all sales to Oasis Domestic Abuse Service.

The necklace, which comes in three colours (gold, rose gold, and silver) is available to buy directly from Esa's website (http://www.esaevans.com/) and is also stocked in our boutique charity shop 'The Oasis Shop' on Northdown Rd, Cliftonville. 

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Esa said, “I’m not too proud to admit having been affected by domestic abuse. As a student I was  living with a very “charming” man whose aggression towards me and my friends was only stopped by getting a court injunction. I’m only too aware of the fear that people live with daily, who are suffering at the hands of abusers, and I’m pleased that maybe our small contributions can make a difference.”

Loukia Michael, Fundraising Manager said, “We are delighted that Esa has chosen to support Oasis with her beautiful necklaces – especially this year as we mark 100 years of women’s suffrage. Domestic abuse damages so many lives and the money raised will help us to reach more people affected by the issue’.

About Esa Evans Contemporary Fashion Jewellery

Esa Evans, founder and designer, draws on the inspiration of art, music and fashion to create desirable jewellery for women to wear every day. From her studio in Whitstable on the Kent coast, Esa collaborates with artists and galleries as well designing her own uplifting jewellery collections.

Using contemporary laser-cutting techniques, Esa transforms stainless steel into polished pieces finished with gold-plating, colourful enamels and delicate etched details.

ESA EVANS jewellery expresses Esa’s belief that accessories have the power to revitalise the way women dress for every day and every occasion.

Expect to see birds and bees, cats and ants, seaweed and shells as well as pineapples and bananas. Honeycomb inspired geometrics make an appearance as well as disco typography, stars and optical illusion stripes.


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Oasis celebrates Easter!

Oasis continue to recognise and celebrate world religions and cultures during 2018, and at today’s Support Group we celebrated Easter!

We spent the morning hunting for Easter Eggs around the building and there were several very pleased children, who managed to find even the best hidden eggs, and put them into their special Easter Baskets! We also had hot cross buns and a delicious home cooked apple pie.

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The Support Group room looked lovely and bright, as we were able to decorate a table centrepiece with decorative eggs. The women and children really enjoyed themselves and the event gave us the opportunity to pause and reflect on the symbolism of the Easter festival.

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We wish you all a very happy Easter!

Domestic Abuse: a gendered issue, but not a binary one

Many years ago, when staff from Oasis would speak at men’s community events, usually things like Rotary Club meetings, we might joke and say, ‘You may have heard that we don’t like men, that’s not true, we love men – we just couldn’t eat a whole one’. A corny, well-used number which could well have some feminists sharply drawing air between their lips in disapproving ways; but, we broke the ice in these men’s groups, we used that humour as a route to then explain the awful consequences of violence and abuse upon women and children. And over the years many of those men have become committed supporters of our work because they understand that this is not about men versus women but about society ensuring it supports those who are harmed.

Back then the only major service we provided was a refuge. It was for women and children then, and so it remains today. Now we offer a range of services that are gender-responsive but not always gender specific. That is an important differentiation. Women’s refuges are, for example, places of safe haven. They allow a woman, with or without children to find space to think, breathe and regroup. Women who have been at significant risk of harm, mentally or physically, and for whom having safe space and community is often pivotal in transforming their lives. Many of those women now work and volunteer with the organisation, or go off to do other wonderful things. Lots of whom just get the chance to start again, sometimes when they are already elderly, they have found the courage to take back control of their lives.

Saturday the 25th November was the United Nation’s International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, a day in which domestic and sexual violence services up and down the country participated. This day allows us to raise awareness of the issues faced by women and girls in this country. The weekend prior to that saw International Men’s Day, which was supported by Kent’s PCC, Matthew Scott, with a conference. Again, an opportunity to raise awareness of issues which affect men. Being aware of issues, celebrating positive outcomes and coming together to think are all incredibly important things, and we were proud to contribute our learning to this event.

I feel struck by the way in which these two dates sit at opposite ends of the week this year. Marking a space between them which we feel it is important to bridge. Part of the ethos of the feminist movement was the drive to have gender as an equal matter, and today we see that, in law at least, it is. These days serve as a visual representation of the importance and value of not allowing binary divisions between man and woman to become something which separates us in our shared humanity. Binary divisions can carry the prospect of arguing about good & bad or right & wrong and this type of black and white thinking is unlikely to feed progress. Domestic abuse is an issue for humankind, it affects girl and boy children equally, and those girl and boy children grow up to be men and women. I do not mean they will grow up to live lives with domestic abuse as a feature, but rather that as a society we must be able to see the dynamics of the issues within which they have grown and will live.

Domestic abuse is a gendered issue, because the likelihood of being victimised in a dangerous relationship is significantly higher for women, and I think that as a sector and within communities we have to be able to deal with that knowledge. This week, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has released its triennial data report on domestic abuse which shows a small decrease in the prevalence of domestic abuse since 2012 and, the proportion of those willing to contact the police having gone up – both of these bode positively for the future. We hope to see reporting increase, especially from hidden victims. But, it still tells us that women are more likely to be killed. Of 454 domestic homicides in the U.K. between 2013-16 70% were the deaths of women. So, we know that women are at a higher risk of death in their intimate relationships. Womanhood becomes a high-risk indicator. It also tells us clearly that men are killed in their intimate relationships. The data also verifies what we know through research into coercion and control. Because it shows us that of the 454 homicides 394 (86.78%) were perpetrated by male suspects (there were 135 male victims, with 40 of these being killed by women).

This data correlates very clearly with the respected work of Evan Stark who defines it thus, ‘The coercive control model was developed to encompass the ongoing and multifaceted nature of the abuse which research shows is experienced by 60% to 80% of victimized women who seek outside assistance….’’ Coercive control is an ongoing pattern of domination in a relationship. The remaining 20-40% of women in the research he cites would have been found to have been experiencing different typologies of abuse. Coercive control is the main concern in our work, it is that type which most often leads to serious harm or death. Evan Stark also finds in his research that in 90% of cases the perpetrator of this specific type of abuse are male, which correlates with the ONS data.

The data also shows us that self-reports of abuse have nearly doubled for teens which I hope means that teenage young people are feeling less inclined to tolerate these behaviours.  Just so you kNOw, a programme run by Oasis, tells us that many young women and men feel unhealthy pressure to have sexual relationships or to behave unacceptably within them. We can see how this is informed by the culture in which they live, and by the more toxic types of femininity and masculinity our culture perpetuates. This for us really evidences the need to work fully, and across society, with all young people to challenge the culture, the thinking and the behaviours which inform and create these problems. In this way perhaps, we will avoid or avert some of the adult issues, which in turn avoids some of the harms to children. Perhaps this is a simplification, but there are multiple opportunities to chip away at such a vast and complex problem.

We aim for a virtuous rather than a vicious circle, and as an organisation, we aim for services that are tailored to those who need them, because it would be wrong to only help the majority. We believe at Oasis that this should be okay to say, that men and women should be happy to acknowledge the stark reality of the data. Because, it is also okay to say that women can harm too, and by no stretch of the imagination are all men harmful.  Remember, we don’t want to pursue binary divisions, every man was once a little boy, and every woman was once a little girl.  Domestic abuse is a problem for a diverse range of people, predominantly women, but also men, and men and women from a range of backgrounds, who have different types of relationships. We would like to know of and support as many of them as possible, for all women and men in our community who find themselves victimised to know that there is no shame, it is not your fault. Because minority or not, the act of abuse in an intimate relationship is wrong.