Our Breathing Space project is funded by the department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport from The Tampon Tax Fund. It aims to support women who have experienced domestic abuse using a trauma informed approach. This means that the project pays special attention to the ways that abuse can affect our mental health and wellbeing. We use group work to try and address the first stage of trauma recovery known as “stabilisation”. We share ways to improve self-care as well as exploring the ways we can stay safer in relationships in future.
Women from the project hosted a fantastic event at Leeds City Museum on 22nd March. They have been working hard over the past couple of months, alongside an external trainer, Alison Cater, to shape the event. The project aimed to share the learning gained through the project since it started in November 2017 and engage with potential partners for future work, so there was a lot to achieve in one event but with the women’s input everything went really well!
The group members worked to develop a programme so the order of events and tone of the afternoon was set by the women. They decided we needed a blend of activities and presentations so we had our trauma expert, Dzmitry Karpuk, and our evaluation team from Leeds Beckett University speaking about the work from their perspectives but we also had games to play, ice breakers and a cake break (which was obviously VERY important!).
We invited people from a range of professional backgrounds to attend including statutory organisations, voluntary sector and funding bodies. The afternoon went by in a flash and it was heartening to hear so much positive feedback about this unique piece of work and amazing to see our Breathing Space volunteers in action. They were involved at every stage, from creating a running order and playlist to designing the invitation, baking for the raffle and speaking at the event.
With confidence and warmth they really brought home how vital it is for domestic abuse services to draw on the insights and experiences of those who have lived through abusive relationships and encourage the women themselves to drive the shape of services that will exist for others in the future. When the women themselves spoke they captivated the audience. One person who attended told us “you got the important messages across in a very powerful way and I’m sure everyone here won’t forget it”. Another said “the survivors stories were extremely powerful and thought provoking – such inspirational women – I wish them every success!! “
Thanks so much to all who attended, Leeds City Museum for hosting us (and the fab catering), to our evaluators from Leeds Beckett University and Dzmitry for your presentations, Alison for working with us around this event and lastly to the wonderful women of Breathing Space for sharing your skills and stories with us. It was a fantastic day!