Islington’s Stuart Low Trust charity ‘ordered woman who complained of sexual harassment not to go to police’
PUBLISHED: 10:18 11 April 2017 | UPDATED: 14:16 12 April 2017
A vulnerable woman has been banned from an Islington mental health charity – after she was seemingly ordered by its chief exec not to report sexual harassment to the police.
The woman, who cannot be named, was barred from the acclaimed Stuart Low Trust in White Lion Street on Friday.
In a letter apparently signed by chief executive Hannah Kalmanowitz, seen by the Gazette, she was told: “We are not at all happy that you went to the police.”
Regarding the man she says harassed her, she was advised not to “provoke him in any way” at future sessions.
The victim told the Gazette today: “They are not fit to be working with vulnerable adults.”
She claims a man who also visited the trust had “stalked” her since December. At a meeting on March 3, he is said to have made oral sex gestures towards her.
"If you [...] choose to go to the police again, you would no longer be welcome at Stuart Low Trust events. This action, overriding Stuart Low Trust management, will cast doubt on any allegations you may make in the future to the police"
Then, while at another Islington charity on March 8 – the Foodcycle lunch club in Southwood Smith Street – she claims he “stood two inches away from me for 15 minutes, telling me to take my clothes off”.
The woman reported him at Islington police station in Tolpuddle Street later that day. But when she visited the Stuart Low Trust on March 17, she was handed a letter, written by Ms Kalmanowitz, that read: “We are not at all happy that you went to the police and chose to keep the situation from us. You did not allow us the opportunity of dealing with it. This is in breach of Stuart Low Trust regulations and you are also breaking our safeguarding rules.”
The letter goes on: “I am asking you, please, to go straight to the host from now on. If you do not do this and you still choose to go to the police again, you would no longer be welcome at Stuart Low Trust events. This action, overriding Stuart Low Trust management, will cast doubt on any allegations you may make in the future to the police.
“So, when the male participant comes back, in the first instance we expect you to sit on the other side of the room to him, not to speak to him or do anything to provoke him in any way. If he still does anything that upsets you, we expect you to go straight to the host on the night.”
Then, on March 31, the woman says she received a written warning for “talking about Stuart Low Trust and other participants in a negative and unacceptable way. Your voice was loud and angry and you were spreading malicious rumours about other participants and SLT, which is a serious defamation of the Stuart Low Trust... I strongly urge you to stop behaving in this unacceptable way immediately”.
And on Friday, she received another letter saying she had been barred after refusing to heed the warning. All three letters have been seen by the Gazette, are on Stuart Low Trust letterhead and apparently bear Ms Kalmanowitz’s signature.
On being told not to report sexual harassment to the police, and ordered not to “provoke” the perpetrator, the woman said: “It’s appalling. They are not fit to be working with vulnerable adults. This is a huge safeguarding issue.
“They turned me into the perpetrator when I was the victim. All they are concerned about is keeping their clean image, and if I’m not there on the premises, they get rid of the problem.”
Ms Kalmanowitz and the Stuart Low Trust have not responded to requests for comment.
The charity was founded in 1997. It runs free or low-cost activities for people experiencing social isolation or mental distress. Last year, it was named the British Medical Journal’s small charity of the year for the third time in a row. It also won the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service in 2015.
The Gazette ran a feature on Ms Kalmanowitz in December. She said the trust is a “lifeline” in Islington, with up to 100 people coming to its Friday night events – the same sessions from which the woman was banned last week.
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