by Daphne Biliouri-Grant, Chair of the Board of Trustees for Women’s Aid
The Lumsden Club is an all-female group of 36 St Andrews students; it has been our honour to support Fife Women’s Aid (FWA) since 2014. The Club functions on many levels: it is an international group of friends and role models; it provides opportunities for each of us to experiment and learn; it is a charity.
Throughout each academic year we work to raise funds and awareness for FWA by hosting a series of events and fundraising campaigns. From hand-delivered roses on St Valentine’s Day, to the Winning Women Conference each October, we are motivated by the life-saving work that FWA does every single day.
Consistently donating to FWA means that over the years, our two organisations have grown ever closer. We are gradually transitioning from our position as donor to becoming a partner and advocate of FWA in their fight to empower women and children as they recover from domestic abuse. FWA has welcomed our members to AGMs, numerous meetings at their offices, Christmas parties, at each stage our admiration growing as we learn from their dedication and courage. Hearing the survivors’ stories first hand and witnessing their journeys is perspective-shattering. In return for the impact of our donations, we are repaid tenfold by the lessons their community of staff and service users have taught us.
Our donations tend to go towards small purchases, or experiences, which might be considered ‘extra’ services. However, while they can make a huge difference to a woman’s life, these are often things that in any other context would be entirely taken for granted. For example, FWA has used Lumsden donations for bus tickets so that mothers can visit their children freely, family bonding over fish-and-chips, and even essential items of clothing. We hope that these small gestures give women and their families a wider sense of normality as they transition to life beyond domestic abuse.
At this point, there is no doubt that FWA is under huge strain due to the COVID-19 crisis and resultant lockdown restrictions. Women in Fife who suffer domestic abuse are more vulnerable than ever, and could face being locked down with its perpetrators. Meanwhile, those in refuges must home-school their children, maintain livelihoods, and rebuild their lives, while this chaos unfolds around them.
The Lumsden Club’s response has been to accelerate and almost double our annual donation by initiating a match-funding scheme and launching individual fundraisers from our homes. Members have sold hand-painted clothing (https://www.sulkeclothing.com/), completed (rather inventive) triathlons, and created social media campaigns. We are delighted to know that this year’s donation has funded the installation and upkeep of broadband connection for all of FWA’s refuges, as well as the purchase of tablets to aid online learning and entertainment.
According to Kate McCormack, the Manager of FWA, the provision of internet access throughout the refuges made a huge difference to families, transforming their lives. One of the women benefiting from the service highlighted that she couldn’t afford the data package on her phone while in refuge, so she was unable to have video calls with family members and felt isolated as a result. Having internet access made life during lockdown easier. Another woman working from home, having had to purchase pay-as-you-go data packages for her mobile in order to be able to do her job, was relieved that she didn’t have to ‘pay a small fortune’ to be able to work from home.
We are dedicated to supporting FWA as they continue to provide the quality of service that these women deserve, through such trying times. The courageous women and their beautiful families are, and will remain, our priority, as we grow as a club and as individuals through our partnership with FWA.
To find out more about the Lumsden Club please feel free to visit our facebook page: