Labour MP Dame Margaret Hodge hailed the “especially important” work undertaken by Jewish Women’s Aid (JWA), which held its inaugural fundraising dinner last week.
More than 300 guests, including Luciana Berger, who sits as an independent MP for Liverpool and Wavertree, attended the event in Swiss Cottage on Wednesday night, which helped raise more than £250,000 for domestic abuse support services.
The charity also officially launched its new Dina service, a dedicated support line providing specialist counselling for Jewish women and girls over 16, who have been affected by sexual violence.
During an appeal, JWA co-chairs Liz Gould and Hilda Worth highlighted how despite working with more than 600 women last year and currently undertaking 60 active cases – amounting to an increase of 500 percent in demand of its services – government funding for domestic abuse organisations had decreased by 75 per cent.
Echoing these sentiments, keynote speaker Dame Margaret, Labour MP for Barking, said: “From my perspective, the work of this organisation is particularly important at this time. We are in a situation where two thirds [of local authorities] have cut their services and one in five specialist refuges have gone in just a five-year period.”
Dame Margaret also reflected on how being a woman had affected her career and why “feminism was always a central part of her politics.”
She recalled: “Ironically I came into politics because I was a woman. I thought I wanted to be a stay-at-home mum, but much as I adored my four children, I got bored. A Labour friend of mine told me to go onto the council – ‘it’ll keep you sane while you’re changing nappies’ – and I never looked back.”
On the issue of antisemitism in the Labour party, over which the MP has publicly clashed with leader Jeremy Corbyn, Dame Margaret said she would continue to “fight for the heart and soul of the party and restore it to the values that underpinned it when I joined aged 18”.