In 1987 the Happy Monday’s Rowetta entered a women’s refuge for five months after being from the age of 16 in an abusive relationship.

She had two children, was in hospital and the police advied her not to go home.Frightened what a refuge would be like she was fearful of taking the advice.

She had seen them on TV and thought they were like prisons she tells us.

“They looked like it was being worse in there than being battered” she told us and yet she says she found the opposite

The first one she says was not appropriate because it was too close to home but the second, although not a place she felt safe.

She was forced to start a new life, lost all her old friends but as proved it worked out for her in the end.

That she says is why it is so important that Women’s Aid is represented, people know about it and can come forward.

“Even more than votes for women, this was to save women, its for all women-Even if you have no family to go to, you might have to start a new life and gove up everything you have got,leave with nothing..but you can start again, you can rebuild your life….I have done it and I am a great example”

Back then the police, though they did help her, didn’t really understand in many situations, sending men around to deal with the frightened women.

She tells us two male police officers came to her when her husband found her in a reallocated flat telling her they couldn’t do anything unless her husband hit her or threatened to hit her.”What I needed was a woman”

The campaign launched yesterday at the Pankhurst Centre will mark the 50th anniversary of Manchester Women’s Aid (MWA) with a year of activities and events to raise funds for child survivors of domestic abuse.

The charity aims to raise £120,000 within the next 12 months to provide play, therapy sessions, indoor and outdoor activities that will make children smile again.

The campaign will be kick started with the sale of Rebel t-shirts designed by renowned Manchester artist, Justin Eagleton. The eye-catching, brightly coloured, mixed-media, digital portrait of Emmeline Pankhurst features many archival newspaper prints from the 1900s as a background.

The image is layered with stunning cascades of flowers that pick out colours
of the suffragette movement.

Emmeline Pankhurst was chosen for the image as she is closely aligned with MWA. The charity, which supports survivors of domestic and sexual abuse, has its headquarters at the Pankhurst Centre.

This is the birthplace of the suffragette movement and the former home of Emmeline Pankhurst, whose legacy of activism continues to this day in the fight to enddomestic abuse.

The important funds which will be raised will go towards making new family memories with days out, experiences and toys, plus tutoring, therapy sessions and the chance to work with the artist Katie McKeever.

Gail Heath, CEO of Manchester Women’s Aid, says: “Some of the children we help have had to move home; perhaps to live in a refuge; they have had to leave everything behind; family and even their abuser who they continue to love despite everything. They are unable to tell anyone where they live and are unable to invite friends home to play.

They need our attention and to know how to live like a joyful happy child. This is why it’s so important we achieve our fundraising goal.”

Rowetta tells us during the interview how important the children are.”Don’t stay for the children…Always leave because of the children” is the message

“My children would  have a completely different life if they had stayed where they were…They ended up going to Grammar School, getting degrees and doing very very well and never being in trouble and I am really proud of them”

The sale of the Rebel t-shirt is just the beginning of a 12 month campaign that will include holding a summer crowdfunder to specifically support children’s outdoor play areas. There is also an awards event that will take place in January 2025.

MWA’s story begins with its first refuge; it was the second in the country (the first being inLondon in 1971) and came about through the actions of four women: Angela Carter, LuchiaFitzgerald, Kath Caulfield and Fran Brody.

They found an empty building in 1972 which they squatted for two weeks, before it was purchased for them and from where they ran a helpline and other services. In 1974 the refuge was formally recognised by the local authorities.50 years later, alongside this original building, MWA has four other refuges and a number of disbursed properties as part of a service that includes community-based therapeutic intervention work.

T-shirts are available from
They cost £24.99 with £3.50 p+p . T-shirts are available in black and white and in unisex or female fit.


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