The MsUnderstood Partnership

The MsUnderstood Partnership was founded by Carlene Firmin in 2013 and brings together the University of Bedfordshire, Imkaan, and the Girls Against Gangs Project to improve responses to young people's experiences of gender inequality:


Imkaan is a UK-based, black feminist organisation dedicated to addressing violence against women and girls.

As a second-tier, human rights organisation, with national membership, Imkaan represents the expertise and perspectives of frontline specialist women’s services that work to prevent and respond to violence against women and girls.

Girls Against Gangs Project

The Girls Against Gangs Project was developed in 2010 to engage young women in the development of local gang and serious youth violence services and policy.

The project has supported groups of young women to influence the development of local girls groups in their schools, and to gender-proof young people's services in their neighbourhoods. 

University of Bedfordshire

The International Centre: Stopping the Sexual Exploitation and Trafficking of Children is the first international research centre with an exclusive focus upon scholarship in the area of sexual exploitation and trafficking of children and young people. The centre aims to develop an international dialogue between academics, practitioners and policymakers who share these concerns.

Associates of the centre have generated innovative research, training and consultancy in this area and the centre will serve as a focal point for the further development of the work. 

Head of the MsUnderstood Partnership: Carlene Firmin MBE

London Programme Manager: George Curtis

Research and Communications Co-ordinator: Ikamara Larasi

Policy and Campaigns Co-ordinator: Lia Latchford

Young Women's Engagement Officer: Jashmin Patel

Previous Interns: Jashmin Patel, Paris Black, Asaybi Snape, Elizabeth Ackerley, Cassie John-Charles and Jade K. Tate


Programme Board: Marai Larasi MBE (Imkaan), Prof. Jenny Pearce OBE (University of Bedfordshire), Rachelle Fisher (Girls Against Gangs Project)
  • Chair: Jo Sharpen (AVA)
  • Akima Thomas (Women and Girls Network)
  • Dr Camille Warrington (University of Bedfordshire)
  • Roisin Clarke (Home Office)
  • Jane Coppock (Barnardo's)
  • Jenny Clifton (Office of the Children's Commissioner)
  • Prof Jenny Pearce (University of Bedfordshire)
  • Marai Larasi MBE (Imkaan)
  • Pam Miller (NSPCC)
  • Yeliz Osman (MOPAC)

The MsUnderstood Partnership is supported by an expert advisory panel and subgroups made up of young people, local and national voluntary sector organisations, and regional and national government departments:

The boys and young men subgroup draws together professionals with knowledge and expertise of boys and young men’s experiences of violence, abuse, and service engagement:

  • Owen Thomas (Working with Men)
  • David Gadd (Manchester University)
  • Kate Stanely (NSPCC)
  • Nick Mason (Growing Against Gangs Foundation)
  • Sue Pettigrew (St Michaels Fellowship)
  • David French (Home Office)
  • Duane Cumberbatch (Youth Mentor)
  • Nathalie Fontenay (Harmful Sexual Behaviour Services, Leeds Integrated Safeguarding Unit) 
  • Kate Iwi (Respect)

The MsUnderstood Partnership is funded by:

The Esmee Fairbairn Foundation (2013 - 2016)
Trust for London (2014-2016)
Samworth Foundation (2014-2016)
Consultancy contracts (on-going)