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.
Some of the members of the team from The Key were invited to attend events at two colleges last week. Sarah and Aneira went along to Leeds City College as part of their event focussing on consent. We like to have activities on our stall, so we asked young women (and lots of staff who wanted to play!) to identify what words/ sounds/ signs may means someone is consenting, not consenting or unsure. Lots of giggles were had but everyone was great at it and we had some really useful chats.
The following day we attended Notre Dame Catholic Sixth Form College’s event as part of World Mental Health Day 2017. Lots of other great organisations were there too including Forward Leeds, Carers Leeds and our lovely friends at Women’s Lives Leeds.
We talked to so many young women and staff about the work we do and about healthy relationships. Our activity for that event was asking people to think about how unhealthy or healthy relationships can impact our mood and mental health.
We had so many responses!
People had lots of suggestions about how an unhealthy relationship might impact your mental health…..
Make you stressed and not allow you to concentrate on important things, make you insecure, depression, sad, upset, angry, lower self-esteem and confidence, make you self-conscious, anxious, feel unloved, make you feel small & not good about yourself, may cause ill-health as it can make you depressed and stressed out, feeling worn out, make you feel trapped, lonely & guilty like it’s your fault, makes my mood anti-social and lonely, if in education, then it’ll negatively affect performance, lose hope, negative vibes are soaked up into us & we may convey them onto others accidentally. May lead to domestic violence.
When it came to how healthy relationships affect our mood and mental wellbeing, they also had loads of ideas including…..
Make you more happy and positive, it will make you feel more loved and valued in life. Boost your confidence, make you satisfied and happy, make me care about others around me, confident in the fact you have someone you can trust & speak to, being in a healthy relationship is good for the mind, you will feel happy and healthy. It can turn mood into a positive, happy state in which boosts & creates healthy living. Secure, excited about life, makes you confident, feeling joy, increased confidence in life & self-confidence, you know that someone cares about you, good vibes make us flowery & positive!
We had a great time at both events and, as always, it was fab to talk to so many switched-on young women!! See you next time. =)