Breathing Space Project has been providing domestic abuse support for women in Leeds for the last two and a half years, ending on 31st March 2020. The Department of Digital, Culture, Sport and Media funded the project through the Tampon Tax Fund. We have been working towards the project ending but the Corona Virus has disrupted the last few weeks of delivery as we have had to replace group work with telephone support. It is hard to finish a project at a time like this, and all the more important to celebrate the achievements of the women that attended.
We know that abusive relationships can take a toll on how we feel and act day to day, so the project developed a strong focus on the way we can look after ourselves and how we can take control back in important areas of our lives. It has been a really special project with amazing women who have enjoyed the sessions and learnt about the importance of self-care during the most difficult times. We worked on stabilisation with the women for the first 6-8 weeks. These sessions looked at how to cope in difficult situations, how to improve sleep, dealing with nightmares and flashbacks; food and mood, breathing and guided meditations as well as understanding depression and anxiety. Once the women completed these sessions they would move onto looking at issues related to abusive relationships. This included thing like the impact of domestic abuse on children, why it can be so difficult to leave an abusive relationship and how to communicate more effectively with friends, family and professionals. Women also helped us shape the project by letting us know what they wanted to explore in more depth.
We owe a huge thank you to Krissy, our yoga teacher who would come into the stabilisation sessions and teach us all how to use breathing to ground ourselves.
The women we have worked with have done some fantastic work and have gained an immense amount of confidence through Breathing Space. Women from the groups co- produced (helped plan and organise) an event last March which aimed to tell people about the project and what it involved. The professionals who attended told us they really enjoyed it, especially because the women helped run it.
This year women have co-produced a training video for professionals, sharing their skills and insights, to help the workforce be more trauma aware. Our first screening was at the Women’s Health Matters celebration event where it went down really well.
Corona virus stopped a planned conference going ahead, where women from Breathing Space were going to be sharing their experiences and showing the film to qualified social workers. It’s a great shame but looking forwards, the film and the voices of these women will be around after the current pandemic has passed. Our team will be waiting to pick up the threads where we left off and take the legacy of Breathing Space forward wherever possible.
We are incredibly proud of everyone who attended Breathing Space. Thank you all for helping us build such a warm and friendly environment so we could achieve so much together.