'They're survivors, not victims' - Bromley woman receives award from PM for work with vulnerable women
PUBLISHED: 17:02 08 March 2016 | UPDATED: 17:07 08 March 2016
Crown Copyright 2016
Polly Harrar, who founded the Sharan Project, received a certificate today (Tuesday) at 10 Downing Street
A Bromley woman who left home at 17 has been recognised on International Women’s Day for her work helping vulnerable women who have been disowned by their families.
Polly Harrar was at 10 Downing Street today (Tuesday) receiving the prime minister’s Points of Light award, an honour given to people who have performed outstanding examples of volunteering across the country.
This week, the awards are centred around International Women’s Day, as the PM looks to celebrate those who are making a difference around the world.
Ms Harrar set up the Sharan Project in 2008, to help provide support for south Asian women based in the UK who have been disowned by their family.
Despite starting out in Bromley, she said there is no main area of support.
She said: “Our offices are in Victoria, but we started out with just a website, we’ve seen more than 500,000 people use our website and we can see that around 40 per cent of those are active users, who have made contact with us or have used some of the services on our website.
“We go where the women are, we’ve taken cases from Scotland to help provide this support.
“The women are survivors, not victims, because they’ve moved forward.”
The 42-year-old explained how, with the help of her team, she manages to help 500 women a year.
She said: “No two days are ever the same, we tend to focus on women aged 18-24, what we’re seeing are women at university being told they’re being put into arranged marriages.
“I hope this award will go some way to highlight the vital role we all have to play to build a better future for everyone and how small grassroots organisations can really make a difference.”
Prime minister David Cameron said: “Through the Sharan Project, Polly has empowered thousands of vulnerable woman, giving them the vital tools they need to make informed choices about their future.
“Polly’s outstanding drive and determination have turned her idea of supporting vulnerable women to escape abusive and violent relationships into a reality.
“I am delighted to recognise Polly as the 488th Point of Light.”