“I’ve been there – I know what it’s like to be in that kind of situation. And I want to be there for them.”
Powered by her own lived experience, our 2022 Impact Entrepreneur of the Year Keasha Kellam founded Honour Thy Woman, a community support group in Gloucestershire that supports domestic abuse survivors in the local area.
She joined the Ingenuity Programme earlier this year, with the aim of building her business knowledge and skillset to turn the volunteer-led group into a financially sustainable social enterprise.
“I’m a domestic abuse survivor, but my whole team has experienced domestic abuse so it’s by the community, for the community,” she explained.
“The Ingenuity Programme was structured so well – it gave me different insights of what I need to be putting together now and forward planning for the next three years.
I’m so glad I pushed myself because I thought, even if I don’t win, it was important for me to have this whole experience and get the input and the expertise from the mentors. I really, really enjoyed it.”
Honour Thy Woman currently provides support to domestic abuse survivors in Gloucester through Peer Mentor Support, Creative and Wellbeing Workshops and self-defence classes. With the funding received through the Ingenuity Programme, Keasha wants to extend support into rural areas in Gloucestershire and beyond, where people experiencing domestic abuse can feel cut-off and isolated from services in the city.
“I know what it’s like to be in the rural area and be told to come to Gloucester, and then say actually if you do need to leave, there’s a refuge waiting list way across the county.
Keasha also aims to build on the role of the community in identifying domestic abuse and supporting reporting and access to specialist services by promoting information and support for employers, families and friends to help them respond to domestic abuse. It is estimated that domestic abuse costs the state and employers around £1.3 billion each year due to decreased productivity, time off work, lost wages and sick pay.
Keasha also wants to improve links for migrant and LGBTQ+ communities to encourage access to their services and specialists’ support.
“We need to make sure that we’re getting everyone on board. You know, not just people that speak English, not only women, but those who identify as women as well. And how can we have them included, into our workshops and drop in sessions and in the community as a whole.”
Brendan Street, Head of Charity at Nuffield Health and a member of the Ingenuity Finals judging panel, said:
“Honour Thy Woman is a truly inspiring multi-faceted initiative that will change the lives, and improve the health and wellbeing, of those in underserved groups experiencing domestic abuse. It is scalable, practical and engages individuals, communities, and employers. Her passion for this project, stemming from lived experience, is infectious. She is a force of nature. Keasha, and her initiative, will be a formidable influence for good in the community. Massively deserving of the title Impact Entrepreneur of the Year. Huge congratulations Keasha.”