Grieving mum addresses women of Mansfield as women's aid centre launched in town

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Campaigner Claire Throssell – whose sons were killed in a fire by her abusive ex-husband – has told an audience in Mansfield of the need for women's and children’s voices to be heard.

On International Women’s Day, Nottinghamshire Women’s Aid welcomed Claire into its new Mansfield centre.

Claire, a Women’s Aid Ambassador, said “children’s voices need to be heard” by changing the structure of the family courts.

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Based in Hickling Court, the women and children’s centre also saw Nottinghamshire’s new violence against women and girls strategy introduced by Caroline Henry, county police and crime commissioner.

Guest speaker, Claire Throssell MBE, spoke about her experience of domestic abuse.Guest speaker, Claire Throssell MBE, spoke about her experience of domestic abuse.
Guest speaker, Claire Throssell MBE, spoke about her experience of domestic abuse.

Claire said the partnership work happening in Nottinghamshire, including the new strategy and the new women’s and children’s centre, showed a commitment to positive change.

In a direct address to women in Mansfield experiencing abuse, she said: “Come to this centre, be welcomed and take that first step. Hopefully it will lead to a better life for you and your children.

“Your abuser thrives off isolation, that is their biggest power. This centre can take that power away.”

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Claire shared her story of abuse and spoke about her petition calling on the Government and family courts to ensure no more children die at the hands of abusive parents.

Launch of a brand new Women and Children’s Centre in Mansfield. Run by Nottinghamshire Women’s Aid to support women and children affected by domestic violence.Launch of a brand new Women and Children’s Centre in Mansfield. Run by Nottinghamshire Women’s Aid to support women and children affected by domestic violence.
Launch of a brand new Women and Children’s Centre in Mansfield. Run by Nottinghamshire Women’s Aid to support women and children affected by domestic violence.

The petition – which has attracted more than 77,500 signatures – can be signed at you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/child-first-safe-child-contact-saves-lives.

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Claire said: “This petition ensures children’s voices are at the heart of every decision made when it comes to contact with abusive parents.

“There is a huge noise about parental rights, but a deafening silence when it comes to children’s rights.

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“Too many children are handed to their abusers through the family courts.”

At the event, she shared photos of her sons and said the family courts failed her children and countless other victims of domestic violence.

She said her boys did not want to see their father but their voices were never once heard throughout the court process.

Claire’s ex-husband Darren Sykes barricaded their sons in the attic, setting 14 separate fires, killing the boys and himself in the process.

The campaigner said she promised her boys to fight for change and ensure other children get justice, in the way her sons did not.