Women’s Aid Leicestershire Ltd. (WALL) and the Alice Ruggles Trust held a joint lunch on Wednesday 20 November with the aim of raising awareness of stalking and to introduce WALL’s stalking support project ‘Free from Fear’, which launched in February 2019. Both WALL and the Alice Ruggles Trust were aligned in their purpose for the lunch – to improve knowledge around stalking, to improve understanding that it is a crime and to emphasis the need to report it and for the victims and offences to be responded to appropriately.
The CEO of WALL, Pamela Richardson, opened the event, and guests were then welcomed by The Police & Crime Commissioner for Leicestershire, Lord Willy Bach, who discussed the topic and his Office’s input into the specialist service run by WALL.
There were key speeches by Sue Hills and Clive Ruggles of the Alice Ruggles Trust, telling Alice Ruggles’ story to highlight the impact of stalking and the need for better responses from agencies. Alice Ruggles was murdered by her ex-boyfriend on the 12th October 2016 after he had been stalking her for some time. Alice tried to seek help but couldn’t find agencies to turn to and also didn’t get an appropriate response from the Police when she reported it.
Guests also heard from Anna Preston, the Stalking Services Manager at WALL, who gave information about WALL’s ‘Free From Fear’ project, launched in February 2019. This was launched as a result of recognising local need and because WALL knew that, nationally, there were limited services supporting stalking victims and locally the services didn’t exist at all. The ‘Free from Fear’ project offers specialist support to victims of stalking, and delivers training to professional on stalking as a whole and how to respond.
The messages from the lunch were that WALL, the Alice Ruggles Trust and the Office of the Police & Crime Commissioner want stalking to be recognised, for people to know it is unacceptable and for people to come forward to access support in order to prevent other deaths, like Alice’s, from occurring.