Funding helps charity tackle effects of domestic abuse

27th February 2019

“I don’t feel a failure like I did or as depressed, I am a good kind person, not what I was brainwashed to think.” A quote from a woman who was led to believe she was a failure after suffering domestic abuse for many years, after she received help to restore her shattered self-confidence.

Springfield Domestic Abuse Support in Kendal has been welcoming women in crisis and helping them turn their lives around since 1915 and receives referrals from many organisation including: The Letgo service, Children Services, Cumbria Alcohol and Drugs Advisory Service, Barnardos, GPs and health visitors. It is contracted to Adult Social Care to provide supported housing for vulnerable women, prioritising those affected by domestic abuse.

Founded in 1915 as The Westmorland Association for Social and Moral Welfare, the charity has positively transformed the lives of hundreds of women and their families for over a century and continues to do so today.

The charity received £8,820 through the Cumbria Housing Partners Fund to restore women’s self-confidence and help them move on into education, training and employment.

Angela Speak

Angela Speak, Springfield Community Services Manager, said: “The grant was used to fund our ‘Dream It, Believe It, Achieve It’ and ‘WISH’ (Women in Safe Hands) recovery programmes designed to support clients overcome the devastating after-effects of suffering domestic abuse at the hands of someone they loved and trusted.

110 group sessions were delivered over 12 months and attended by more than 80 women. Alongside the group sessions, one-to-one counselling sessions were also provided.

24 women were already in employment but struggling to keep going while enduring the abuse and the aftermath of leaving the abusive relationship. The support from the project has helped them to keep going and retain their jobs. 11 gained new employment, 5 have started volunteering and 15 are now ready to start seeking employment.

Angela continues: “Clients often have an overwhelming loss of self-confidence and trust in other people; this can be a huge issue when applying for jobs. The programmes include support with CV writing and interview techniques as well as money management and life skills. By working in small groups, in a safe environment, we are able to help them start to rebuild their lives and return to a healthy, active life as part of their community whether through volunteering, employment or study.”

Other feedback included: “I have learnt to respect myself more and say no to men. I have become more confident about being by myself,” and “I feel I am becoming whole, recognising and working on my boundaries, becoming assertive. I am confident to be myself.”

“When someone no longer needs our support, it’s because they’re ready to return to a ‘normal’ life in their community. This includes education, employment or training, managing their tenancy or mortgage and having the life they choose rather than one that is being controlled by an abusive partner,” Angela said.

Women can stay at Springfield for up to two years, but most are ready to move on to independent living before that time, and the majority reside in housing association properties. The charity also offers an ‘outreach’ package of support when women move on to ensure that they are successful in their new tenancies and they don’t become socially isolated. The charity provides a wide variety of ways in encouraging the women to build self-confidence and to live independently. They offer accommodation and a range of activities that residents are involved with as they work towards a healthier and more active and engaged future.