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Manager of Women’s Aid to receive honorary degree

Lisa Johnson, Manager of Direct Services, Women's Aid.

Press release issued: 22 July 2019

Today (Monday 22 July) Lisa Johnson, the Manager of the National Domestic Violence Helpline, Women's Aid, will be awarded an honorary degree as part of our graduation ceremonies.

The School for Policy Studies is delighted that Lisa is being recognised for her significant contribution to society, research, and the University of Bristol.

Lisa has overseen the transformation of the helpline, which was established by Women's Aid in the 1987, from a few phones, a ring binder, and a white board to an internationally renowned helpline which uses technology and innovation to better support those who call. The National helpline (run in Partnership with Refuge) is now accessible 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and responds to over 100,000 callers per year.

Lisa also manages the project ‘No Woman Turned Away' which supports victims-survivors who are facing additional barriers, and last year supported 300 women, and the Survivors Forum, an on-line peer support community where those impacted by domestic violence can support one another.  Over 14,000 messages were posted on the Forum last year alone. 

Nicki Norman, Acting CEO of Women’s Aid, said; “Lisa’s commitment … is totally unwavering. She recognises the importance of every detail, from the caller’s first response, through to the value of their collective experience and voice in influencing national policy – and she makes sure that they do have a voice at every level.”

Over the years Lisa has contributed to the life of students and staff at the University, and they have benefited from her knowledge, expertise, and support.

As one previous volunteer from the University commented; “I shadowed Lisa when training and learnt so much from her about how to engage with the caller, how to respond to what you are being told, and that was something that you wouldn’t have been able to learn in a classroom. Also, she is a really good laugh which is really important when doing this kind of work. There was often laughter in the staffroom as people let off steam and that was down to atmosphere that Lisa created”.

Lisa was nominated for the award by Professor Marianne Hester, from the Centre for Gender and Violence Research, and Professor Lois Bibbings from the Law School, also in recognition for her contribution to research at Bristol.

Professor Hester said; “Bristol is a research led university and we often rely on partners beyond the Academy who understand the value of research.  Over the years Lisa and her team have taken part in and supported at least 8 of our research projects, including work on domestic violence and military families, the impact of abuse on family and friends, so-called honour based violence, domestic violence and family courts, victim-survivors perspectives on justice, and the needs of survivors facing disabilities”.

Of the award, Lisa said; "This month it is 23 years since I started at Women's Aid as a volunteer. Working at Women's Aid has changed my life. As the manager of Direct Services, I am so proud to have a role where I work with an incredible team and we save lives every day. 

I really value the ongoing work we do at Women's Aid with the University of Bristol to inform policy and practice. I work alongside women I have a huge amount of respect for, including Dr Emma Williamson, Prof. Marianne Hester, Prof. Lois Bibbings and Alison Gregory.

It means so much to have this recognition from the university, now more than ever. - The women's sector has always faced challenges, and right now we are facing a huge challenge. At Women's Aid from the autumn we will not have government funding to run a helpline service. However, our sector was not given to us; it was built by strong women, and together we will find a way forward.”

Lisa will receive her honorary degree at the awards ceremony later today (22nd July) at 1.30.

Further information

Women’s Aid is the national charity working to end domestic abuse against women and children. Over the past 44 years, Women’s Aid has been at the forefront of shaping and coordinating responses to domestic violence and abuse through practice, research and policy. We empower survivors by keeping their voices at the heart of our work, working with and for women and children by listening to them and responding to their needs.

We are a federation of over 180 organisations who provide just under 300 local lifesaving services to women and children across the country. We provide expert training, qualifications and consultancy to a range of agencies and professionals working with survivors or commissioning domestic abuse services, and award a National Quality Mark for services which meet our quality standards. We hold the largest national data set on domestic abuse, and use research and evidence to inform all of our work. Our campaigns achieve change in policy, practice and awareness, encouraging healthy relationships and helping to build a future where domestic abuse is no longer tolerated.

The 24 Hour National Domestic Violence Helpline on 0808 2000 247 (now run in partnership with Refuge) and ­our range of online services, which include the Survivors’ Forum, help hundreds of thousands of women and children every year.  Further info:

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