Vera Baird QC, PCC for Northumbria
I have encountered Fiona Bowman a number of times during the last 10 years when she has been speaking at events at which we have both been presenting, when she has powerfully campaigned against Domestic Violence and has raised awareness of the Importance of Employers in the lives of Victims of Domestic Abuse.
Two of the most recent events were the AGM of AAFDA, a charity which supports the families of victims of homicide as the result of Domestic Abuse, in Swindon in January 2013 and last year in Newcastle when we were launching the Newcastle City Council Domestic Abuse and Stalking Policy. Fiona’s presentation very powerfully gave the attendees an understanding of what it is like to be a victim in the workplace and provided some very simple and manageable solutions for Managers and Colleagues. The impact of her presentation clearly stirred the audience into action and at the end of the session , many of the attendees were stepping forward to sign up to roll out the Policy and Training for their Teams. She shared her insight, gained as a victim of horrific abuse for 10 years, but also used her professional skills as a Facilities Manager to highlight how the workplace can use existing structures and processes to support victims. Her journey from Victim to Survivor and now as a successful Senior Facilities Manager and Campaigner is a story of hope and one where she is using her business acumen to change lives and potentially to save lives.
Since the Newcastle event I have been using Fiona’s testimony and her amazing story to go out across Northumbria to repeat the training and have also used the video interview which she did for the Nationwide Foundation, Employers Guide to putting a Domestic Violence Policy in place, to reinforce the message that employers really can make a difference. The fact that because of work commitments she cannot always be in attendance at the events does not diminish the impact her story has on the audience.
The societal impact which Fiona has made can be measured by increases in disclosure in areas where she has been a presenter at conferences. Because Domestic Violence is such a taboo subject, especially in the workplace, raising awareness and getting people to come out and talk about it is one of the first steps. And if, by getting employers to become more aware of the signs and symptoms of victims, and by early intervention, we may never know that they have saved lives. 2 women a week die as the result of Domestic Violence, particularly when they are trying to escape from their abusive partner. Fiona escaped with the help of her Bank Manager and she is living proof of the impact that employers have in the lives of victims.
Lisa King, Director of communications and fundraising, Refuge
The team at Refuge has worked with Fiona Bowman on a number of occasions over the last ten years. During that period, and especially over the last five years, Fiona has been a key supporter and advocate of Refuge’s work. Fiona, due to her first hand experience of domestic violence, has very powerfully spoken out at a great number of events in her efforts to raise awareness of a subject which affects one in four women in this country; and which claims the lives of two women every week.
Domestic violence is a huge social problem; it is one of the biggest issues affecting women and children in his country today – yet it is not an issue which is easy to speak out about and most people have a limited understanding of the subject matter, a subject which takes lives and ruins lives. However, thanks to Fiona’s work and her willingness, courage and bravery in sharing one of the most personal and life endangering experiences she has ever had, she has been instrumental in driving people’s awareness and understanding of this insidious issue. It is testament to Fiona’s relentless work in the field of domestic violence in the business arena over the last few years that more companies than ever before are engaging with and positively reinforcing and raising funds to support Refuge’s work and services. It is thanks to Fiona’s willingness to share her story publicly, which she has done on many occasions and across many media channels, that more women are reaching out and accessing information and support from Refuge. Every time Fiona speaks out the visits to Refuge’s website for support and information nearly double. And it is thanks to Fiona explaining to many businesses the vital role and opportunity employers should play in supporting their staff who may be experiencing domestic violence – as Standard Chartered Bank did for Fiona many years ago – that businesses have put in place essential domestic violence workplace policies.
In addition to the work noted above, Fiona has also shared her story to key members of Government and as such has opened their eyes to the issue and the challenges women face. Fiona does not fit the stereotype of the ‘typical’ woman people expect to experience domestic violence – and by debunking that expectation and myth Fiona is able to engage the individuals she shares her story with in a very impactful and effective way.
Fiona has supported Refuge in a myriad of ways in the last ten years – and I’m sure will support Refuge ongoing into the future. I have been enormously grateful to Fiona for being someone to whom I and the team at Refuge can turn to to speak out against domestic violence, whilst working with us to campaign for change. It is no exaggeration to say that thanks to the public facing and professional/business work Fiona has undertaken that lives will have been saved and positively changed for the future.
Neil Blacklock, Development Director Respect - Charity for Perpetrators and Male Victims of Domestic Violence
I first met Fiona Bowman in 2009 when I was developing a resource pack for employers on how they can improve their response to how domestic violence affects the lives of their employees. Fiona was working with Refuge, the biggest provider of refuge provision in the England and Refuge were our partners in developing this resource. Fiona contributed her expertise to the development of the resource and recorded one of the video segments that went alongside the text.
Right from the start Fiona was a pleasure to work with, professional and focused on the task, I was impressed by her commitment to the work and her personal integrity. I have continued to work with Fiona on similar pieces of work ever since. After completing the resource pack mentioned above we went to test its usefulness with a large employers so that we could understand the benefits for both employers and employees. In 2012 we started to work with Newcastle City Council on a more structured pilot of the resource pack with a more quantitative impact evaluation.
Fiona, supported the launch of the Newcastle project. The Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) for the region was so impressed by Fiona’s input that she went on to develop her own campaign on the issue, which brought together another two PCCs and gave a co-ordinated approach across the North East of England. Fiona contributed to making that campaign a success.
I continue to be impressed by the contribution Fiona makes, her drive to see victims and perpetrators of domestic violence get a better, safer response and her ability to bring other people with her in that vision.
Paula Doherty, Strategic Manager, Troubled Families and Sexual Abuse and Domestic Violence, London Borough of Croydon
Fiona worked in Croydon as our Interim Head of Facilities. Whilst working in this role, Fiona shared her personal experience of Domestic Abuse and the powerful role that employers have to play in supporting those impacted by abuse. Fiona willingly offered her time and expertise to support me in developing and launching our local authority policy on supporting staff experiencing Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence. We launched our policy to senior staff and managers.
Fiona gave of her time freely, and although she had already left our employment, the launch event was a huge success and staff reported having been truly impacted by the whole event. The event was so well attended, people gave up their lunch breaks to attend and the feedback and direct requests for support and advice has been astonishing. I have asked myself what made the event so successful, the answer is quite simply, Fiona. What did she do that captivated, motivated and mobilised our work force?
She powerfully told her story, and helped the audience understand what being both a victim and a survivor is like. She made the issue come to life by articulating her struggles, the physical and emotional pain she experienced, the shame and embarrassment of people finding out, and ultimately the power of compassion and empathy in the work place and a manager who changed her direction in life by supporting her to flee to safety.
Fiona went on to list her growth and success since fleeing the violent relationship. She has achieved many great things. There are so many accolades that can be paid to her for her tireless campaigning on the issue of domestic abuse and sexual violence. Fiona has agreed to support us in getting employers and businesses to sign up to having a clear policy framework for supporting staff experiencing abuse, she will train, motivate and advise companies on how to do this and we are grateful for having such a power house in her un-relentless support.
Pete Lawrence, Managing Director PGI Training
"A big thank you to Fiona Bowman MBA CBIFM FCMI for speaking on Day 1 of the SRMC course. Fiona’s in-depth knowledge and wealth of experience within corporate security, its role alongside facilities management and the softer skills required to influence the boardroom was a pleasure to listen to. We look forward to welcoming Fiona on future courses"
Dysart 57 Ltd
Fiona Bowman MBA CBIFM FCMI
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