Irene Campbell – an obituary – The Herald 12 October 2013


Irene Campbell 

Born: 22 March 1954 Died: 13 September 2013

Counsellor and Feminist Activist

Irene Campbell who has died at the age of 59 years was a person-centred counsellor and feminist activist who worked to end domestic abuse and violence against women.

Irene grew up in Milngavie in a large family.  The highly acclaimed work of Irene’s mother,  Scottish writer Agnes Owens, provides an insight into Irene’s early influences and the values in which she was immersed from an early age.

Having settled in the Vale of Leven, Irene joined Dumbarton District Women’s Aid in 1990.   Irene was an active member of the wider Women’s Aid movement in Scotland campaigning to bring the issue of domestic abuse into the public arena, to change public attitudes and to provide better services for women and children.

In 2003, Irene moved on to establish West Dunbartonshire Council’s CARA (Challenging and Responding to Abuse) Project. Now a person-centred counsellor, Irene specialised in working with women survivors of domestic abuse, rape, sexual assault and childhood sexual abuse.  Irene was one of the early pioneers in Scotland who introduced the 3-stage Trauma Model developed by American feminist psychiatrist Judith Herman into their work with women recovering from the impact of domestic abuse. Irene’s work combined trauma-informed counselling with new models of advocacy also developed in the US for use with domestic abuse victims and survivors.  The subsequent success of these approaches has led to their widespread use in many specialist violence against women services around the country, and to their incorporation in new methods of policing and prosecuting domestic abuse in Scotland.

Irene Campbell developed the CARA service as one of the key domestic abuse support agencies in West Dunbartonshire – an area with high rates of domestic abuse.  Irene was at her best listening to women with  kindness and a sensitive professionalism that was often rare in their lives.  Her collaborative and training work with a wide range of local support agencies including social work and housing, health, the criminal justice system and the police has gone on to make a significant contribution to improving local multi-agency responses to all forms of violence against women.

Irene was a kind, generous and loving woman, who always supported people who were being treated unfairly or cruelly.  She was razor sharp in seeing and cutting through red tape.  Irene’s passions for her garden, for art, photography, music, reading and the  Scottish landscape were reflected in the home and life she shared with her extended family.

Irene Campbell leaves a great personal and professional legacy in the life she lived,  in the body of work she created and in the difference she made to many people’s lives.

Irene is survived by her husband Gordon and her son Calum


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