Polly has been supporting South Asian women for over 20 years. In 2008 she identified a gap in service provision available for women who have been or are at risk of being disowned and who require long term support towards leading a successful independent life without fear, as a result she set up The Sharan Project. Using her life savings and at great personal risk, she took an idea to support some of the most vulnerable members of society and turned it into a reality.
Polly regularly undertakes culture based risk assessments, develops positive action plans and 121 interviews to develop client led solutions. Ms Harrar has extensive understanding of a wide range of harmful practices faced by South Asian women and the barriers and challenges they face in seeking support.
Having a strong working knowledge of the legal remedies available for clients in relation to Family Law disputes, Matrimonial Law, Child Abduction, Immigration and Court procedures she is often called upon to assist clients in preparing for their cases. She has appeared in court in the capacity of supporting clients through High Court hearings and Appeals, Asylum Screenings and as an Expert Witness on Forced marriages and Honour Abuse.
Polly can regularly be heard speaking on these matters at national and local conferences and receives referrals from solicitors, social services, police forces, medical professional and individuals.
She is also a Panel member for the Children’s Commissioner’s Inquiry looking into abuse within the familial environment, she was appointed due to her expert knowledge and insight into addressing this issue from a cultural context and her work with women who have been abused as children.
Her previous roles include working at Refuge UK (National Domestic Violence Helpline), The Stroke Association, the Kaleidoscope Trust, the London Development Agency and the Commission for Racial Equality.
In 2013 Polly was highly commended at the Asian Women of Achievement Awards for her social and humanitarian work, resulting in invitations to Buckingham Palace and 10 Downing Street. She was named in the Independent on Sunday’s 100 Happy List of people who make Britain a better place to live.
In 2015, she recognised at the IKWRO True Honour Award for her work to prevent honour based abuse, nominated for the English Asian Business Awards and the National Diversity Awards and received the GG2 Spirit in the Community Award. She was recently presented with the Points of Light award by Prime Minister David Cameron for International Women’s Day 2016 for her charitable work, awarded a Diva of Colour Award, Lift Effects top 100 Inspiring Women Award and Best Charity Initiative at the British Indian Awards
She still finds time to support other charities and an advisory Board member for the Women’s Interfaith Network (WIN) and a Board member of Youth Enlightenment Limited (Y-E-L).
PRESS PLAY HERE :
The Sharan Project is a registered national charity supporting South Asian women in the UK who have been or are at risk of being disowned/ostracised by their families or communities, forcedly or voluntarily left home due to harmful practices to include, but not limited to: forced marriage, honour based abuse, domestic violence, dowry abuse and cultural conflict. www,sharan.org.uk
The Sharan Project is a largely online volunteer led charity with extensive understanding of the wide range of harmful practices faced by South Asian women and the barriers and challenges they face in seeking support. We offer free online resources and tools to empower women to make informed choices about their future.
In addition to this, we offer limited in-person services for high risk candidates who require rapid intervention or advocacy as well as provide ongoing emotional and practical support and make referrals to relevant organisations best placed to assist with specialist issues such as housing & legal advice and ongoing localised outreach support.
The Sharan Project undertakes culture based risk assessments, 121 interviews and develops positive action plans to provide client led, long term solutions. We provide a safe forum for women to access support, speak with an advisor and engage with local services. As an online support network, we have had over 500,000 visitors to our site with approximately 40% conversion into unique users – actively accessing links and downloading our free online information, tools and resources.
Through the SHARAN Project, Polly supports clients (personalised support) on issues ranging from forced marriage, homelessness, asylum applications, honour based abuse (HBA), sexual orientation, domestic violence, child protection, repatriation, FGM, mental health, substance misuse, modern day slavery and cultural conflict. Our online enquiry service receives an average of 200 requests for information & assistance and our Information Line allows for clients, professionals and third parties to make enquiries, access support, make referrals and speak with an advisor. We respond to over 500 client requests and advise approximately 150 professionals/front line staff each year.
We take a holistic approach by building the capacity of key existing front line service delivery professionals and organisations in the UK to help them more effectively support clients and by providing long term support for those in need. The Sharan Project remains a volunteer led charity which is growing steadily to meet the increasing demands for our services
A very special thank-you to Polly for joining us this week.
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