Holly Sheppard and John Moorcroft were invited to the 30th anniversary gala of Latin American Women’s Aid (LAWA) in London last week and got an unexpected surprise.

LAWA is a charity that provides dedicated, specialist support led by and for Latin American, Black and minority ethnic women and children experiencing domestic violence. They also provide the only refuge of this type in the UK and Europe.

Holly, Head of Supported Housing Management and John, Agency Management Officer, were invited along as representatives of Family Mosaic who are the owners of the property.

The six bedroom refuge has been managed by LAWA for 20 years but has recently struggled financially following the loss of their supporting people funding in 2015. This was their main source of funding and without it they were at real risk of losing the service.

Family Mosaic agreed that LAWA could retain the building if they could secure alternative funding. Luckily they managed to secure new funding until 2021 which includes an aim to expand their refuge provision. To this end, Family Mosaic have agreed to offer a second building to the charity and aim to hand this over at the end of 2017 so the new service can be launched in the new year.

At the event, a black tie gala in a London hotel, Holly and John thought they were just going to enjoy the anniversary celebrations. However, much to their surprise, when they arrived they were ushered to the top table to sit with Jeremy Corbyn, Labour Leader, Dawn Butler, Shadow Women’s and Equality Minister and other LAWA trustees and partners.

Then, to add to the surprises, they were awarded the Partnership Change Maker award for offering support in building a fundamental partnership with LAWA and allowing them to continue to offer this unique and much needed service.

Holly said:

John and I were honoured to be guests at LAWA’s 30th Anniversary Gala. It was a fantastic event celebrating the achievements of the charity and the women it supports day in and day out. It was also a wonderful surprise to be recognised with our ‘change-maker’ award for our long-standing and successful partnership with LAWA.