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Membership of the Violence Against Women and Girls Commission

Membership of the Violence Against Women and Girls Commission

Councillor Rebecca Smith, Plymouth City Council (Chair)

Rebecca Smith has been a member of Plymouth City Council since May 2018 representing Plymstock Radford Ward and is Cabinet Member for Strategic Planning, Homes and Communities. In 2019 she stood as Parliamentary Candidate in Plymouth Sutton and Devonport. She was previously Chair of the Planning Committee. She lived and worked in Brussels and London for a number of years before returning home to Plymouth in 2015. Her career across the public and non-profit sectors has involved public engagement and communications, operations management and research and policy development in areas such as addictions and criminal justice. 

In addition, former Chief Crown Prosecutor for NW England, Nazir Afzal OBE, has been working with the Commission as an independent advisor, bringing expertise from his 24 year career prosecuting the most high-profile cases in the country and advising on many others. He has led nationally on several legal topics including Violence against Women & Girls, child sexual abuse, and honour-based violence. His prosecutions of the “Rochdale grooming gang” and hundreds of others were ground-breaking and drove the work that has changed the landscape of child protection. 

Other members include:

Cllr Sally Haydon, Plymouth City Council

Sally Haydon has been a Labour Councillor since 2006, representing St Budeaux in Plymouth. She has been Deputy Lady Mayoress, Chair of various scrutiny committees such as Children and Young People, Ambitious Plymouth and Place and Corporate, also Vice-Chair of Taxi Licensing, Corporate Parenting and Devon and Cornwall Police and Crime Panel.  Sally was also a Cabinet Member from 2018 – 2021 for Customer Focus and Community Safety.

Alexis Wright, Domestic Abuse Consultant

Alexis has an MA in the Dynamics of Domestic Abuse from Worcester University and is qualified as an Independent Sexual Violence Advisor. She has worked as an Independent Domestic Violence Advisor specifically working with Black and Minoritized communities and has trained public and voluntary organisations on anti-racist practice. She is currently working to setup a 'by and for' charity in Devon that will support Black and Minoritized victims and survivors and will deliver training to public and voluntary organisations.

Chief Supt Matt Longman, Devon and Cornwall Police

Matt has been the police commander for the City of Plymouth since October 2020. Ch Supt Longman started his career in Hampshire in 1997 and moved to Devon & Cornwall in 2003. He has worked in a wide range of policing roles across Cornwall, Plymouth and Devon which include Investigation, Intelligence, Partnership working. He is the Force lead on Legitimacy Issues and was also a lead planner and commander for this year’s G7 summit held in Cornwall.

Dr Lynne Callaghan, Plymouth University

Lynne has worked in the Community and Primary Care Group at the University of Plymouth for the past six years. She is interested in the development and evaluation of complex interventions for traditionally marginalised groups, particularly those in the Criminal Justice System. She initially worked on the Engager 2 pilot trial for men with common mental health problems toward the end of their prison sentences, through the gate and into the community, during the pilot trial, both as a researcher and intervention practitioner. She is currently developing a set of projects with Devon and Cornwall Police, including evaluations of diversionary services for individuals with mental health needs who come into contact with the police, and an evaluation of current service provision for people who inject drugs who enter police custody.

Clare Baker, Membership Experience Manager Devon and Plymouth Chamber of Commerce

Clare’s career has always centred around people, from the early days in hospitality in London, Norwich, and Hong Kong to the last 24 years in banking. Her last role with Barclays was working with local communities across the southwest; educational establishments, professional service providers, our NHS Trusts, Chambers of Commerce, BID districts, charities and more sharing financial wellbeing and financial educational resources. She is passionate about communities working together and support networks and that together we are stronger. This has led her to several fantastic roles volunteering as a trustee for St Luke’s Hospice Plymouth, a governor at All Saints Academy and now the Membership Experience Manager at the Devon and Plymouth Chamber of Commerce. Her proudest achievement was co-founding and running SW Women in Business CIC  for 6 years. Established with the belief that they could create something unique supporting Women in Business in our communities. 

Nate Eisenstadt, University of West of England

Nate is a Senior Research Associate at the University of Bristol Medical School, Domestic Violence and Health Group. Nathan's research is centred on gender-based violence prevention and response with a particular focus on work with men and boys and masculinity. Nathan was lead qualitative evaluator on the Drive Project – a national pilot addressing high-harm perpetrators of domestic abuse. He is currently working on Reprovide, a pioneering Randomised Controlled Trial of a Domestic Abuse Perpetrator programme for men. With Dr. Rachel Fenton at University of Exeter, Nathan co-designed and delivered Football Onside - the first UK bystander intervention programme tackling domestic abuse and sexual violence through football and sport. Nathan and Rachel are co-founders of Kindling Transformative Interventions which offers bystander training in a range of settings for violence prevention, equality and diversity.

Prof Luna Dolezal, University of Exeter

Luna Dolezal is an Associate Professor of Philosophy and Medical Humanities at the University of Exeter. She leads two large research projects that investigate how shame is relevant in healthcare and public health: Shame and Medicine and Scenes of Shame and Stigma in COVID-19. Part of her research has been to consider the relevance of shame in experiences of trauma and post-trauma states. Along with her research team, the aim of Luna’s current research is to develop principles of ‘shame-sensitive practice’ that can be applied within healthcare contexts, and also within other care and social services. 

Richard Woodland, Westcounty Schools Trust

Having studied Biological Sciences at the University of Exeter, Richard spent three years as a voluntary youth worker before completing his PGCE. Alongside developing his teaching of science he completed a Master’s degree in Educational Research and took on pastoral, and outdoor education responsibilities before being appointment to a senior leadership team in 2010. Following ten years in senior leadership, five of them as a Head teacher, he joined the WeST central team as the Director of Inclusion. He current leads the Westcounty Schools Trust in SEND, inclusion, attendance and safeguarding.

Emi Dowse, Plymouth University Student Union

Emi is the President of the University of Plymouth Students' Union (UPSU). Emi was elected into the role of President by the student body. In her role, Emi also chairs UPSU's Board of Trustees and is a Governor for the University. Previously Emi was the Vice President Education for UPSU. During her time as Vice President, she worked closely with the University on their Covid-19 response, particularly in the re-implementation of the safety net. Emi also focussed her efforts on revising the extenuating policy, improving digital accessibility and improving students’ wellbeing.

Emi graduated from the School of Biological and Marine Sciences in 2020 with a degree in Animal Behaviour and Welfare. In her first year at University, Emi was a course rep, and she worked with academics to get her school accredited with the Royal Society of Biology. Emi was also heavily involved in Raise and Give (RAG) throughout her studies, fundraising over £5,000 for her chosen charities. In her final year, she was the President of RAG, which saw her organising large fundraising events on campus and leading over 100 student fundraisers in raising £100,000 for charity.

Edd Moore, Plymouth Live

Edd Moore is the Senior Editor of PlymouthLive and currently Regional Editor of Reach PLC's digital titles across Devon and Cornwall. He has lived in the Plymouth area for most of his life and been involved in the local media in the city since joining The Herald in 2008.

Carolyn Giles, Plymouth Citybus

Carolyn currently works as Head of People and Operations for Plymouth Citybus, and has been a vice chair of Devon and Plymouth Chamber of Commerce, a Vice Chair of governors for a local secondary school, and is Chair of Trustees for a local charity. Carolyn is currently a Director of South West Women in Business, a member of the Trauma Informed Network, and sits on the Inclusive Growth Board. Her interest in VAWG is personal and professional regarding an interest in protecting vulnerable members of our community, but also understanding how Citybus can support the aims and activities of the commission.

Ollie Mackie, NSPCC

Oliver leads the NSPCC Plymouth partnership – Together for Childhood. This strategic partnership is 1 of 4 nationally working on a ground-breaking approach to prevention of child sexual abuse using a public health approach. Prior to this role at NSPCC Oliver led the Barnardo’s services in the Peninsula developing and implementing services ranging from family centres to supported accommodation for young people on care journeys. A passionate advocate for trauma informed practice and working with communities to design solutions based on principles of social justice.

Dr. Ishani Kar-Purkayastha, Office for Health Improvement and Disparities

Dr Ishani Kar-Purkayastha is a Consultant in Public Health with experience across Health Improvement, Environmental Public Health, and Health Protection. She is currently based in the South West Region within the Office for Health Improvement and Disparities, where her portfolio includes Violence Prevention, and the Wider Determinants of Health.

Anna MacGregor, Domestic Abuse Commissioner’s Office

Anna has over ten years professional experience with the DASV sector; working independently with victims of DASV who were linked to gangs, in Buckinghamshire, then moving into an IDVA role in Cornwall.

She holds a strategic role with Cornwall Council within the DASV commissioning team, as DASV Co-ordinator and MARAC Chair, which she is still delivering, alongside her role within the Domestic Abuse Commissioner’s Office, as Practice and Partnership Geographical Lead for Wales and the Southwest of England. Anna is also the founder and CEO of Safer Spaces Now CIC, providing training, safety, support and education to prevent violence against women and girls at festivals and events. Her passion and drive to improve outcomes for women and girls and all people impacted by DASV stems from her own personal experience of a 15 year abusive relationship.