How awards highlighted pandemic’s “hidden heroes”

The boss of My Sisters Place has praised the “hidden heroes” behind the charity’s Tees Businesswomen Awards success as they tackle the “shadow pandemic” of domestic abuse.

Organised by Tees Business in association with Northern Skills Group, the third annual Tees Businesswomen Awards shone a light on the incredible accomplishments of female-led organisers in the Tees region, with My Sisters Place the winners of the Thirteen Group-sponsored Charity/Voluntary Award.

Click here to see a round-up of all the winners and finalists.

The Middlesbrough-based organisation, ran by women for women, is committed to ending all forms of abuse and provides direct support services to empower women to live safe, violence-free lives.

Michelle O’Rourke, the CEO of My Sisters Place, says the kudos of winning the award will hopefully bring even more awareness and support to a charity which is already highly respected.

“We were thrilled to receive this award – especially having been shortlisted alongside Rubies and TRAC UK, two organisations who are doing amazing things with women and girls on Teesside,” said Michelle.

“My Sisters Place have been improving the lives of women affected by domestic abuse for 18 years now and it’s fair to say that our frontline staff are the hidden heroes who have worked so hard keeping women safe in incredibly challenging circumstances.

“We know that women affected by domestic abuse are in a really difficult position and threatened by a shadow pandemic right now.

“Those forced into the home 24/7 with their abuser face increased control and coercion and an escalation in risk of serious harm, with further barriers to seeking help and support via family and friends as well services like ours.

“To win at the Tees Businesswomen Awards was a wonderful surprise and a great boost to every single staff member. We are proud to be known nationally for the work we do here on Teesside and we hope this award will raise our local profile and encourage even more support and awareness of domestic abuse.

“We are determined to improve the lives of more and more women and children, and we need the support of our community to help us do this. Thank you for giving us this platform.”

Verity Stangroom, the charity’s fundraiser, had the happy job of accepting the award on behalf of My Sisters Place at the virtual awards night.

“It was a total surprise to win and a wonderful feeling,” she admitted. “There were tears from some of our staff.

“Many of us used to work with Liz from Rubies so we were so chuffed to be shortlisted with them and with TRAC UK.

“It’s great to pause and celebrate our achievements. No one has had an easy time of it this year and everyone involved in the charity sector knows how difficult things are.

“We are all faced with funding challenges, but we are also working to help more and more people. There is a huge need for the services provided by the charitable sector right now and these awards give us a much-needed platform.”