West Mercia Women’s Aid
“I don’t have to hide who I am. I don’t have to hide the fact that I’ve been to prison. It’s like I can sit with you guys and you talk to me like I’m a human being. I don’t have to hide it from anyone.”
In 2019 WMWA secured Tampon Tax funding through Women’s Aid England Federation (WAFE) to initiate and support work focussed on empowering key individuals as ‘ambassadors’ to become confident in talking about domestic abuse in their local community and being a ‘point of information’ for those who want to know about services and support. Part of the WAFE ‘Change That Lasts’ strategy, this project is entitled ‘Ask Me’.
Community development approaches to growing prevention, early intervention and support are not new, and have evidenced success in addressing issues such as substance misuse and access to learning. Working alongside communities to support them in identifying the key issues that affect people locally is key to helping them to acquire the resources that they need to build resilience, whilst also offering the opportunity for local voices to influence and shape the response of local services. These approaches were used through our networks in communities in Herefordshire and Worcestershire, and 50 local ‘Ask Me’ Ambassadors were recruited and trained in 2019/20. WMWA continues to support the Ambassadors, and they in turn have become an essential part of our organisation in supporting our work.
Soteria – Working with women in the Criminal Justice System
In recognition of the prevalence of women in the criminal justice system with experiences of domestic abuse, West Mercia Women’s Aid (WMWA) secured funding from Comic Relief for the ‘Soteria Project’. The project was a partnership between WMWA and Shropshire Domestic Abuse Service (SDAS) and ran from December 2018 – December 2020. Soteria aimed to upskill all those working with women offenders to better recognise the impact of domestic abuse on women, and how this relates and affects their offending behaviour. A key part of the project involved the work of specialist key-workers to support women on a one-to-one basis throughout their criminal justice journey and work alongside other justice stakeholders, providing a holistic package of care to ensure a reduction in re-offending but also to support their safety, well-being and development.
Although the funding for this work has concluded, it has left a legacy in the increased skills and confidence of all WMWA staff in this area of work. WMWA and SDAS continue to look for further funding with which to continue to develop the capacity to provide the additional support needed for this vulnerable group of women.
Looking for help?
24HR DOMESTIC ABUSE HELPLINE
Herefordshire, Shropshire, Telford & Wrekin:
Call 0800 783 1359
Call 0800 980 3331
We also have Livechat available from 9am until 9pm, Monday to Friday for those who want to contact our helpline silently or who prefer to text rather than talk.
If you are in immediate danger please call 999