Pam Lewis Special Recognition Award

4 July, 2011


Pam Lewis becomes first person to receive Onus Special Recognition for supporting victims of domestic violence


In the week following a motion by Pam Lewis MLA, calling for domestic violence to be regarded as a priority for the Department of Justice, attracting unanimous support from all parties in the Northern Ireland Assembly, Pam Lewis has been awarded a ‘Special Recognition’ award at the University of Ulster, in acknowledgement of her enduring support for victims of domestic violence over the years. 


Since election to Antrim Borough Council, Pam has been a vocal and consistent supporter of the local Women’s Aid.  Pam launched the ‘White Ribbon Campaign’ in 2008 – the sole female Champion amongst the 100 men who also pledged ‘never to commit, condone or stay silent about violence against women’. 


This same pledge was made by all 108 MLAs in the Northern Ireland Assembly a year later. 


On becoming the first female, and youngest Mayor of Antrim in 2010, Pam designated Women’s Aid as one of her chosen charities, a move which raised over £2,000 to support local women and children living with violence in their homes.  She also opened ‘Grace House’ in Antrim, a Women’s Aid facility which was much needed – the lack of a facility in Antrim for several years meant that workers were having to meet women in crisis in the car park of a local supermarket. 


During the year as Mayor, Pam supported Antrim Borough Council in the development of a workplace policy to support victims in the workplace and encouraged other Antrim businesses to do likewise.  A number of Antrim businesses now have Workplace Charters and also operate the ‘Safe Place’ initiative, which supplies information on services available for victims of domestic violence.


Rosemary Magill, Area Manager of Women’s Aid in Antrim, Ballymena, Carrickfergus, Larne and Newtownabbey explained why Pam Lewis became the first ever recipient of the Onus Special Recognition Award:


‘Domestic violence still carries with it an element of taboo – it’s something private, not to be discussed publicly and this is wrong.  Fear and lack of awareness sustains the violence.  Pam Lewis is not afraid to make this a very public issue and ask those questions we have wanted asked for so long.  Why, in 2011, are women and children still living with violence in their homes?  What are we all doing that allows this to continue?  We believe we all can do something, and we want to recognise Pam for already having done so much and for committing her future support’.


Anyone dealing with domestic violence can access support by calling the 24hr Domestic Violence Helpline on 0800 917 1414.  Safe Place resources also give contact information for PSNI, Victim Support and Childline.