2022 Annual Conference – ‘Opening Doors, Opening Minds’

6 April 2022

We are delighted to announce that our Annual Conference will return this year following a hiatus in 2021 due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The conference will take place at the Titanic Conference Centre in the Andrews Gallery on Friday 13th May.

Our three main objectives for this year’s conference are:

  • To emphasise that urgent action is required to end violence against women and children and eliminate domestic abuse in society.
  • To emphasise that following the election in May, the new Executive have a responsibility to commit to actual change.
  • To keep the matter of violence against women and girls, including domestic abuse specifically, in the public consciousness constantly, not just following a tragic event such as the murder of a woman.

Conference Overview

Throughout the pandemic, many women and children continued to face domestic abuse behind closed doors. At Belfast & Lisburn Women’s Aid, our doors remained open – dedicated and committed to providing specialist support and emergency accommodation when it’s needed the most.  

But what can you do? As a society we can – and should – all play a role in preventing domestic abuse, at the least by helping to put a stop to the culture, attitudes and beliefs that perpetuate it. We all can play a part, no matter how small, to ensure no woman or child needs to live in fear for their safety or their lives. We need to open our minds to the possibilities of what can be achieved by working together, across communities and sectors.  

Women and children do not need to suffer in silence. Doors are open – to freedom from abuse, to new beginnings and future possibilities. We are here to help support them. We need your help to help us – now and moving forward. 

At Belfast & Lisburn Women’s Aid, we have supported women and children affected by domestic abuse for almost 50 years through a range of services, including crisis accommodation and outreach support in the community. Our annual conference is a celebration of the lives transformed through our vital and lifesaving work, paving the way for the continued and improved services to tackle and prevent domestic abuse in Belfast, Lisburn and beyond.

The conference will address society’s role in responding to domestic abuse and challenging attitudes which perpetuate domestic abuse and more widely, violence against women. The theme of ‘Opening Doors, Opening Minds’ will delve into the ways in which professionals from all sectors can work to challenge and prevent domestic abuse. Under this theme, our speakers and panellists will discuss the roles of; the justice system and legislation, health and social care, housing, and education, training and intervention to challenge societal attitudes. 

Who will be speaking?

We are delighted to announce our full list of speakers as:

Allison Morris – Crime Correspondent & Columnist at the Belfast Telegraph

Amanda Stewart – Chief Executive Officer of the Probation Board for Northern Ireland

Catherine McFarland – Director of Finance, Audit & Assurance at the Northern Ireland Housing Executive

Harriet Long – Children’s Services Manager at Belfast & Lisburn Women’s Aid

Harriet Wistrich – Solicitor, Founder & Director at the Centre for Women’s Justice

Katie Taylor – Head of Community Safety Division at the Department of Justice

Lindsay Fisher – Detective Superintendent, Police Service of Northern Ireland

Michael Boyd – Senior Engagement & Communications Lead at the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission

Michelle Martin – Project Manager of ASSIST NI

Sonya McMullan – Regional Services Manager at Women’s Aid Federation of Northern Ireland

Tonia Antoniazzi – Shadow Minister for Northern Ireland

Trina O’Connor – Criminologist & Community Activist

Who can attend?

Our Annual Conference is aimed at key partners and stakeholders across a range of professions. These include colleagues from the voluntary and community sector, health and social care, government, policing and probation, housing, the legal profession, as well as students studying law, education, and health and social care.

If you work for an organisation in one of the above fields or are a student of law, education or a health and social care field (including social work) please get in touch to enquire about tickets to events@belfastwomensaid.org.uk by no later than Friday 22nd April.

We wish to thank our Gold Sponsor Choice Housing, and Silver Sponsors Francis Hanna & Co Solicitors and Herbert Smith Freehills Belfast branch for generously sponsoring this year’s conference.

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