Helplines Awards - Employee of the Year 2018

Annika Howard
Fedra Mardani, Senior Call Handler at Karma Nirvana and Paula Ojok, Chief Executive at Helplines Partnership

This award is open to all full-time, temporary and part-time paid staff who have made a significant contribution to the helpline, shown a real commitment and go above and beyond their job description. This year, Fedra Mardani, from Karma Nirvana, won the award and talks to us about Karma Nirvana and the work of the charity.

Pride and Prejudice

"It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife." Strange way to start off a blog, I know, but I assure you there is a point to it!

The quote is from one of my favourite books, Pride and Prejudice, a romantic classic written by Jane Austen. A younger, more whimsical version of myself read this book and was enthralled by the different dynamics of class, culture, love, honour and shame.

There can be no doubt that the novel itself is a masterpiece, but it is often revered as a romantic novel. Whilst this may be the case, as a professional working in the field of abuse I now no longer read this and sigh at the beauty of the "all's well that ends well" sentiment, but recoil at the fact that a novel published in 1813 portraying the prevalence and ramifications of the caste system, honour based abuse and forced marriage at the time, is still relatable to some victims in the UK in 2018.

Honour-based abuse and forced marriage

Often banded together with domestic violence or something that just happens within a victim’s ‘culture,’ honour-based abuse and forced marriage has damaging and long lasting effects on its victims, not to mention that due to the innately intrinsic nature of the abuse, it is notoriously under reported.

Changing attitudes

The team at Karma Nirvana understand this and work not only to change attitudes amongst communities and professionals alike through training and inputs, but lobby policy makers and campaign for better laws in order to safeguard victims who seek support.

Karma Nirvana helpline

The core of all of this is a national helpline, providing emotional and practical support to all those who seek it. There is no age limit to the service nor is our remit gender specific as we recognise that these forms of abuse can affect anyone, at any age, from any background or culture. The team that I work with directly is the helpline team, and I have the privilege of sitting with some of the most empathetic and supportive people.

Helplines Partnership Conference

The Helplines Partnership annual conference was a thoroughly enjoyable day to attend, as issues that affect the industry were addressed (the always pressing matter of funding) and there were some informative sessions and poignant speakers.

More than anything it was a chance for helplines to network with one another, which is so very important, especially in times of austerity and cuts where each organisation may be facing their own set of pressures and setbacks. It is an opportunity to learn from one another and to find new and innovative ways to maintain the invaluable support that helplines provide.

Thank you

I am absolutely honoured to be awarded “Employee of the Year” and I cannot thank Helplines Partnership and the judges enough for choosing me for this award, Karma Nirvana for nominating me, and my colleagues on the helpline team for being such amazing people and for listening to those who otherwise would not be heard.

Karma Nirvana is an award-winning National charity supporting victims of honour-based abuse and forced marriage. Honour crimes are not determined by age, faith, gender or sexuality, they support and work with all victims.

You can find out more about Karma Nirvana and the help, support, training and advice they can provide on their website www.karmanirvana.org.uk

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