About Us

SAY Women offers safe semi-supported accommodation and emotional support for young women aged 16 to 25 who are survivors of sexual abuse, rape or sexual assault and who are homeless, or threatened with homelessness.

SAY Women was established in response to CHAR research that found 4 in 10 young women who were homeless had become so due to sexual abuse. The research recognised the complex needs of young women in this position and the high risk of ongoing targeting from perpetrators due to their vulnerable circumstances.

We are a charity of women supporting women who are survivors of men’s sexual violence. Using the framework of the Judith Herman model: Establishing Safety, Mourning & Remembering, Reconnection and Move On, we operate the Social Model of support. This concentrates on the experience of abuse as the issue, and recognises that the behaviours that survivors have had to use, such as self-harm and anger, are coping strategies.


Support for the young women is offered in the form of semi-independent living in our Accommodation Project, alongside support to prepare for a more independent lifestyle, as well as looking at the difficulties surrounding their childhood sexual abuse. They work towards moving into their own tenancy, while we offer ongoing support at our Resource Service with emotional and mental health difficulties, plus groupwork, events, activities and help with practical issues.

The support we provide is flexible and varies according to what each young woman needs, so she is always in control and can access the service at a pace that suits her.


Our vision

SAY Women’s vision is of a society where homelessness and sexual abuse and all forms of Gender-based violence against women and girls is prevented and eradicated.

What do we do

SAY Women provide accommodation and support services for Young Women (16-25) who have experienced child sexual abuse, rape and other forms of gender-based violence.

Support & Development Outcomes

  • Power and control

  • Sense of identity

  • Emotional safety

  • Physical safety

  • Understanding of abuse


The feminist analysis of MVAWC (Men’s Violence against Women and children) often referred to as Gender based violence underpins all we do at SAY Women. We work from the basis and understanding that abuse happens due to the patriarchal society we live in. It is systemic (continues through system and governments etc.) and is a long way from being eradicated. At SAY Women we actively strive to ensure and increase women's rights and women's equality socially, economically and politically - for our young women and as an employer. 

SAY Women’s values run through every aspect of our attitude, approach and service provision, empowering young women, staff and those around them with:

Courage: Feeling the fear, yet choosing to act, speak out and stand up for what is right. 

Compassion: Taking an understanding, kind, transparent, victim-focused approach to all we do. 

Connection: Making the links, developing relationships with the Self, the community and the world around us. 



Our Patron - Madeleine Black

We are delighted to announce that author and public speaker, Madeline Black, has become a patron of SAY Women. A true advocate of life after abuse and rape and an inspiration to us all.

Violently gang-raped when she was thirteen years old, and raped three more times before the age of eighteen, Madeleine has experienced more trauma in her life than most ever will.

Living in a state of shock and self-loathing, it took her years of struggle to confront the buried memories of that first attack and begin to undo the damage it wrought, as men continued to take advantage of her fragility in the worst possible way.

In Unbroken, Madeleine tells her deeply moving and empowering story, as she discovers that life is about how a person chooses to recover from adversity. We are not defined by what knocks us down - we are defined by how we get back up.


Our Board


Chair – Debbie Shields

Debbie is an Associate Director of Aspen People and works with organisations to recruit into Senior Level roles. Debbie has a particular interest in the 3rd sector and has worked with all shapes and sizes of charities and non-profit organisations on Senior management, Board and leadership level positions.  Debbie has worked with many Boards to help shape and structure their leadership teams and indeed the Board itself.

Having worked in the 3rd sector before joining the world of recruitment, Debbie is still very active in the sector, currently Vice President of Scottish Women in Business and a member of Acosvo’s Chair network. Debbie is passionate about ensuring women have a voice in all areas of life and business and that women are well represented across the Board.


CEO – Pam Hunter

Pam is an Open University graduate with an MBA and has been working in the voluntary sector for the last 10 years. Her career, initially in the private sector, has moved into the areas of Learning Disability, Mental Health, Sports and Young People and Sexual Abuse. She has been living in Northern Ireland for the last 14 years and has recently seen the light and returned to her home of Scotland. She is a keen sports fan and player, including a season ticket holder for the Glasgow Warriors and has recently completed her coaching diploma.


Vice Chair – Samantha Barnett

Sam has over 15 years’ experience working with organisations to facilitate and deliver positive change across corporate, public and third sectors. Sam has extensive planning, strategy, and programme management experience across complex initiatives. She is passionate about stakeholder engagement and uses an inclusive approach built on clear understanding, trust, strong relationships to develop positive partnerships. Sam established The Partnership Lab in early 2018, to help organisations deliver positive change and she has always had an interest in the third sector and helping to make a difference.  Being a board member of SAY Women is a privilege and an opportunity for me to help use my skillset to help strengthen and grow an amazing organisation.

Ann O'Connell HEADSHOT.jpg

Ann O’Connell

Ann is a Solicitor and Consultant with BTO Solicitors. She specialises in construction law. She formerly headed the firm’s CSR Committee. Ann has always been passionate about giving women and children a voice and providing them with the tools and skills they need to play an active part in society. She has been involved with UNICEF for many years and has represented Scotland on its UK Board.


Sandra Bonilla, MBA, AMBCI

Sandra has been in the Board since September 2017. She has a strong interest in equality, diversity and inclusion. Currently working as the Corporate Planning manager at SQA with responsibilities for a wide range of Strategic Planning and Governance aspects including, under the public sector equality duty, to positively contribute to a more equal society through advancing equality and good relations in its day-to-day business. She is the Depute Chair of SQAs Women’s network which promotes gender equality at the workplace. She is also a member of the Risk and Audit Committee, to which she contributes with her extensive experience in Risk Management and Business Continuity and Organisational Resilience.


Tricia Imrie

Tricia is a senior leader with proven strategy to execution experience, used to delivering complex operational and cultural change, to enhance service delivery and surpass target outcomes. Leads by example, working as part of Senior Leadership Teams to set and embed strategy in line with emerging policy and legislative contexts, mobilising resources to successfully execute business, service and quality plans. Highly experienced in building powerful and impactful partner networks, in managing contract commissioning and supplier relationships, in empowering blended staff and volunteer teams, and in developing a shared culture across multiple sites. Passionate about impacting and transforming the lives of vulnerable people across the UK, including children and young people, thinking creatively and innovatively to drive continuous service improvement and to sustain delivery excellence.


Donna Marie Byrne - Treasurer

Donna Henderson