We set up The Key in 2013 for two main reasons – firstly women in our domestic violence groups told us they wished that someone had talked to them about relationships or offered them support when they were much younger – often their first abusive relationships had started in their early teens. Secondly, because our group work in schools showed that girls and young women not only wanted to learn about healthy relationships and staying safe, but lots of them NEEDED it, whether because they were in an abusive relationship, or they witnessed or experienced abuse at home. We knew it was important to remove as many barriers to young women accessing the service as possible – we wanted to support people from across the city, so we didn’t have to turn people away if they didn’t live in a certain area. We knew we needed to provide transport – some women were anxious about making their own way there, or getting a bus, or wouldn’t be able to afford to get there themselves and we didn’t want problems with travel to stop people getting to the support they needed. At WHM we always try to provide a crèche where funding allows, because we know lots of women can’t attend groups if there isn’t a safe space for their children provided, we wanted interpreters for the same reason. Thankfully, the lovely folk at the National Lottery Community Fund completely agreed and funded the project, initially for three years.
This ‘Spotlight on our Team’ piece will be a little different. It’s my turn and sadly also time to say some goodbyes. I’ve been at WHM for almost 5 years and during that time I’ve worked on lots of different projects such as Footsteps, our original group for women whose children are in someone else’s care, Include – our project for young women who may be pregnant or who are parents, our young mum’s group YUMs and some of our domestic violence groups. I have three roles at the minute – as Operations Manager, Project Worker on The Key and as Line Manager for our Your Space Wellbeing Worker. Sadly, as two of these pieces of work are ending, I’ll be leaving WHM in April.
Rosebuds is one of our groups for women who are living apart from their children, meeting weekly at the Tetley Art Gallery. It’s funded by Leeds Trust as part of their year long support of projects working in the community to overcome loneliness.
As part of this important piece of work, we have been working with Mentally Healthy Leeds who have provided us with a wonderful worker, Belinda Sawyer. She has been in to the group twice and run really fun and thought provoking sessions on the nature of femininity in the world and self-identity. The women have really enjoyed these sessions, and we had lots of really interesting conversations, thinking about who we are as women and how we present and communicate this to the world. From eating chocolate mindfully to making masks, we have really enjoyed the fun activities that Belinda runs. We are really looking forward to seeing what she has planned for us next! Thanks so much to Mentally Healthy Leeds at Touchstone, we really appreciate your input.
Our Feel Good Course for women with learning disabilities is back in full swing. The course focuses on healthy bodies and healthy relationships, which actually covers a huge amount of topics. Women are able to go at their own pace and repeat sections of the course as necessary before moving on to a follow-on group where they can continue to build their friendships and look in more detail at subjects covered on the course.
We always get such lovely women on the course, so, inevitably, women make new friends. We often have a bit of a giggle, but still get to talk about some really important stuff.
What women have said about the course:
“I really like coz everyone was nice”
“It’s helped me be more safe”.
“I made new friends. Don’t want it to end.”
““I really enjoyed the course had fun and laugh. I really enjoyed it”
“I can help other women feel safer”
“I loved this course, I really enjoyed it”
We also deliver sessions to parents, carers and anyone supporting women with learning disabilities to help people feel more confident to engage in conversations about sex and relationships in an appropriate way. We know that people often feel embarrassed to talk about these things and so the subject often just gets swept under the carpet. This sometimes means that women with learning disabilities get most of their information about relationships from what they see in the media. This can be misleading and leave women more vulnerable.
The Feel Good Course runs on Tuesdays 2pm to 4pm at the Old Fire Station in Gipton. Contact Danielle Martin on 0113 244 3729 or email:email@example.com