Our EDI Journey

We believe that East Sussex residents will receive the best support if small local specialist charities exist, particularly those that offer services delivered “by and for” those with protected characteristics.

We are a small, independent local family charity, founded in 1996 with a specialism in domestic abuse/VAWG (violence against women and girls). Our service users are primarily, but not exclusively, women with children. Our services are designed and led by those who share the same protected characteristic/lived experience as those we aim to serve.

We ensure that equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) informs the range and breadth of our work. Without taking EDI seriously, our relations with minoritised communities would lack integrity. Staff, volunteers and trustees are encouraged to be open and challenge assumptions, biases and prejudices to help develop deep, trusting, mutually beneficial relationships with minoritised communities.

Due to the protected characteristic of our majority clients (women) and the gendered nature of abuse they have been subjected to (primarily by men), our EDI journey has been complex and at times, challenging for the staff and trustee team whose default position is inclusivity.


Following training, we began delivering the Freedom Programme.  There was a lot that we loved about the programme but we had some concerns with the content and gaps, including the fact that it focussed solely on heterosexual relationships.


We worked with a postgraduate student from Brighton University to develop our own home grown 'Lotus' recovery programme that aligned with SafeLives Leading Lights quality standards,  drew on current best practice from around the world and ensured it was welcoming and relevant to women victim-survivors who were LGB.  Over time, the number of LGB women attending the groups increased:

2020-21:    6.73%

2021-22:    7.3%

2022-23:    13.3%

East Sussex population percentage 7.9%


Trustees and staff attended EDI training delivered by an LGBTQ specialist charity who lobbied for full inclusivity.  Staff and trustee discussions and research began around whether our recovery groups should be inclusive of men and/or trans women.

We carried out three different impact assessments to identify the impact on women, of making various changes to the inclusion/exclusion criteria of our domestic abuse recovery groups:
  1. making the groups fully inclusive of any self-identified victim-survivor.  This would include anyone over 18 i.e. women registered female at birth, men, trans people and non binary people
  2. making the groups inclusive of self-identifying women and non binary people.  This would include women registered female at birth, trans women and non binary people registered female at birth but not men or non binary people registered male at birth
  3. making the groups single sex (women registered female at birth/non binary people registered female at birth) only

We knew we wanted to maintain a fair and inclusive charity culture, ensuring services prioritised safety, dignity, accessibility and privacy and that our approach was trauma-informed, proportionate and fair.

Three issues came to light;

(i) We learned that women from some minoritised ethnic communities such as practicing Muslims and Orthodox Jewish women can only attend same sex groups. They would be prohibited by their religion to enter a mixed sex space that included men and/or trans women. Women who face multiple layers of discrimination  encounter even greater barriers in accessing domestic abuse services.  There were no alternative single sex services we could refer them to.

(ii) As part of our trauma-informed practice, we acknowledged that a significant number of women who access our recovery group suffer from trauma/PTSD so can develop a chronic vigilance for, and sensitivity to, a perceived threat including an ongoing fear of men/maleness

(iii) We acknowledged we have to maintain a duty of care towards all clients attending the group.  It is imperative they feel safe and welcome.

We identified that whatever decision we made, we would be prioritising one protected characteristic over another. With our majority clients in mind (protected characteristic, women) we concluded that for our women's recovery groups, the most proportionate decision would be to have a Single Sex Policy.

"Thank you for offering a single sex domestic abuse recovery group. It means that my sister, who is a practicing Muslim can attend. She would not be able to attend if it was a mixed sex group"

Our child to parent violence service remains fully inclusive of any parent/carer with an abusive child aged 8-17.

We have defined Equality, Diversity and Inclusion in our Equality Policy, with the understanding that full inclusivity for all services is not always the most equitable approach, especially when a service aim is to aid recovery from a gendered crime and we want the group to be accessible to all minoritised ethnic communities. We recognise that not everyone will agree with this position, but we believe it to be the fairest for the majority of our clients and the majority of victim-survivors.

The Vulnerability of Trans & Non Binary Victim-Survivors

We believe that everyone should be able to access local support that understands their particular needs.

We recognise that transgender and non binary people are particularly vulnerable to intimate partner violence and that Brighton & Hove has a higher-than-average number of trans and non-binary residents.  We are committed to offering IDVA support if, for any reason a trans and non-binary victim-survivor does not want to be referred to the local specialist LGBTQ recovery service.  It is run by Brighton Switchboard who have a deep understanding of the needs and experience of trans and non-binary victim-survivors.

We do not currently have the resources or the remit to support the recovery of other male victim-survivors and so we signpost to Respect who have a deep understanding of the particular issues faced by male victim-survivors.

We welcome male and trans/non binary parent/carers on our child/adolescent to parent violence/abuse (CAPVA) parenting programme.

We use equalities data to monitor whether we are reaching a wide range of clients, and to identify which community groups we may need to work harder at reaching. We are proud to report that in 2022-23:


of the women on our domestic abuse recovery clients were from the LGB community


of our total clients were from the LGBTQ+ community across all our services
We are transparent about who is eligible for which services so that:
  1. All victim-survivors and referrers are clear about the eligibility criteria of every service from the website
  2. Any women victim survivors looking for support can be reassured that our recovery groups are a ‘safe space for women’
  3. All victim-survivor attending our groups know they will be welcomed by the other beneficiaries

We strive to ensure that everyone encountering us feels respected and is treated with dignity and we work hard to ensure there is an alignment between what we say and what we do.

Despite our niche EDI position shared with some other domestic abuse and sexual abuse services, our aspiration is to make a meaningful contribution to EDI, nurturing interdependence, whilst respecting distinctiveness. We want to extend and share our skills and niche EDI experience.

lotus-icon 8f4c92

"I liked it that the group was inclusive of same sex couples".

This year our EDI focus is to improve access to our services for those with a disability and develop stronger relationships with local disability groups.

Many of those we support have been subjected to domestic abuse and other crimes. Our services can be accessed by victim-survivors both in and outside of the criminal justice system, whether or not any crime has been reported.

Lotus Families want to be part of a community that drives social action over and beyond our organisational aims.


If you’d like to receive any of our documents in an alternative format:

Please email [email protected] or phone 01273 612025.

The following statement of policy is for use by all employees and volunteers working within Lotus Families:

Equality, Fairness and Diversity Policy Statement

Lotus Families is committed to the 2010 Equality Act and 1998 Human Rights Act by developing an organisational culture that respects equality and human rights and welcomes and values difference in all aspects of its work.

A commitment to equal opportunities and the fundamental rights of individuals is at the heart of our work.  We ensure our services prioritise safety, dignity, accessibility and privacy and that our approach to inclusion is trauma-informed, proportionate and fair.

To help us achieve this, Lotus Families has in place policies and procedures relating to staff and volunteers that are designed to uphold the rights enshrined in both the 2010 Equality Act and 1998 Human Rights Act.  Employees, trustees and other volunteers are required to comply with all policies and procedures designed to ensure respect for equality and human rights.

Lotus Families ensures all its other policies and procedures comply with this policy.

We are committed to addressing prejudice and discrimination by:

  • Ensuring the effectiveness of our Equality, Fairness and Diversity policy
  • Being clear and open about our values and approach
  • Listening, learning and taking action to bring about positive change
We want anyone who is eligible to use our services to have the opportunity to do so.

The COVID-19 pandemic led to a transition to remote service delivery.  We found this  increased access for those with anxiety, travel restrictions or caring responsibilities, so we have continued to offer some remote services.  However, it has also reduced equality of access for some.

If you would like to use one of our services but are currently unable to access them due to not having the necessary devices, wifi/data or tech literacy, please get in touch and we will try to identify a way of helping you to join us.


Lotus Families is a Disability Confident employer.

We believe that people with disabilities and long term health conditions should have equal opportunities to fulfil their potential and realise their aspirations.

Lotus Families has adopted the The Halo Code

We champion the right of staff to embrace all Afro-hairstyles and acknowledge that Afro-textured hair is an important part of our Black employees’ racial, ethnic, cultural and religious identities.

We recognise and celebrate our colleagues' identities. We are a community built on an ethos of equality and respect where hair texture and style have no bearing on an employees ability to succeed.

The Halo Code - logo (blue)

Skip to content