It is difficult to put into words the impact that Sue had. Her passion for, and commitment to social justice was a beacon of light shining brightly into everything that she did and lighting the way for others to follow.
For well over a decade, Sue pioneered in chairing our Board at MASH, an organisation committed to improving the health, wellbeing and safety of women who are sex working and experiencing multiple disadvantages including poverty, homelessness, addiction and violence.
Above all, Sue cared, and that value of caring for others permeates throughout the whole of MASH. We stand with women and we walk beside women, wherever they are on their journey.
Where others walked by, Sue walked towards.
Sue stopped and listened.
She spent time with the women we support, listening, acknowledging, finding out what was really going on in their lives, what really mattered to them and how best to support them.
Sue was extremely respected and very well connected in Manchester, and beyond. She utilised her networks and influencing platforms to raise the too often unheard voices of women experiencing the sharpest end of vulnerability in our places and spaces. Women who are hidden, who are overlooked, who are stigmatised, and are often in the most need of support.
Sue saw and understood these women for who they are; strong, resilient warriors. Daughters, mothers, sisters, grandmothers, all with their own stories. Too often stories of trauma and neglect but also of incredible strength through adversity. Sue shared these women’s stories and amplified their voices with the people who needed to know. She was a powerhouse, a real force to be reckoned with in the fight for justice and equality.
I first met Sue decades ago as a nervous voluntary sector worker, hosting a stall at an International Women’s Day event at Manchester Town Hall. She was warm and wise and hilarious from the off.
Years later, as the new Chief Executive at MASH, Sue gave me friendship and support, and always assured me that with collaboration, with kindness and most importantly with a sense of humour, anything can be achieved.
I miss our chats and conversations, discussing MASH activities over a coffee and a cake in Chorlton, or putting the world to rights over a pint after work. Whenever I spent any time with Sue – I came away knowing everything was going to be ok.
Despite her many commitments (and who knows how she found the time with all the myriad of organisations and causes she was involved in) Sue was always there to give advice and guidance. Calm in a crisis and reassuring, Sue made everyone feel better. Sue just knew what to do.
We still often ask ourselves at MASH – What would Sue do? The answer is always to focus on what is right and not what is easy, to be honest, kind and inclusive, and to let our convictions, values, and principles lead the way.
Sue’s leadership has enabled thousands of women in our great city to access help and support where others may have turned them away.
Sue’s light will always shine brightly at MASH. Her inspiration and her legacy continues to inspire us to make the world a better place in the years to come.
This is exemplified in a decision our Service User Advisory Panel members made recently. Keen for a catchier and more representative name, the perfect idea came to them and the decision was unanimous. “Let’s re-name our group Sue’s Space.”
Rest well Sue, always missed, always loved.