From the President’s Sofa, sort of…

Sharon Howard- CEO of Safe in Sussex charity

In May I had the pleasure of chatting with Sharon Howard about the vital work of domestic abuse charity Safe in Sussex and the necessary role it has been playing in our local community since 1977. Sharon’s calming energy and strength is incredible. The charities’ staff and volunteers who keep countless women and children safe are incredible.

When we met, the threat of the withdrawal of government funding for “supported people” was less foreboding, but September brought the realisation that Safe could lose £100,000 in this way! We are familiar with the inevitability of cut backs, but that loss could result in the closure of one of the four Refuges. Despite such continual pressures, a highly caring, supportive and professional service is delivered 24/7, 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year for those of us who are unfortunate enough to need it. Thank you for your time and crucial sense of humour Sharon!

So 5 questions…
1.What’s the best part of your job?
Making a difference to someone’s life. The “Freedom Programme” is of particular significance, as it empowers those who have experienced domestic abuse. It never fails to impress me what a difference the Programme can make to a survivor’s confidence and self-esteem. They leave feeling and looking like different people!

Also, The Great Project is an amazing initiative which we have taken into the schools at Year 5 and 6 (9 and 10 year olds). It has encouraged children to be respectful of others and promotes kind words and actions.

2.Your most memorable situation?
Opening Amber House, the Littlehampton Refuge! It is the first open Refuge in the UK, meaning that there is a sign outside telling everyone that it is a safe place and that families are working on their issues in that protective forum. The sister of the sadly late Anita Roddick (founder of The Body Shop) opened the House. The property did used to be their family home in fact-! It is a pioneering House, with the idea having come from Holland. The significance of “Amber” is that things have not escalated to crisis point necessarily (Red), and that, with all the right safeguards in place, there is hope and the possibility of the family staying together /making things better for the children particular.

3.What are you looking forward to in the next 6 months?
Much needed support from Lottery Funding and the 1st Anniversary of the opening of Amber House! It will be a time for reflection on all we have achieved and that to be achieved still.
4.Where would you live if not in Worthing?
Nowhere else! I love it here! The sea and the countryside, what more could anyone want.

5.Which song best describes you and why?
It has to be Abba “Dancing Queen”. It just makes me you smile.

Please show your support for all at Safe in Sussex by signing the Petition against a reduction in West Sussex County Council funding for their invaluable services at

Many thanks.

Jacqueline Mensah
Worthing Law Society President