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.
We’re so proud to announce that our young women’s healthy relationships project ‘The Key’ has been shortlisted for the Children and Young People Now Awards 2019! We’ve been shortlisted in THREE categories – the PSHE Education Award, the Early Intervention Award and the Safeguarding Award.
The project is funded by the Big Lottery Fund and works with girls and young women aged 13-25 from across Leeds who have experienced, or are at risk of experiencing, abusive relationships. We offer group work programmes – one for girls, one for young women and a third for those moving on from the initial group programmes. These focus on managing difficult emotions, improving confidence, identifying abuse in relationships and staying safe. We can do some intensive individual support with group members where needed too, this might be around things like managing mental health or risk, accessing other support, confidence building, attending meetings and looking at what a healthy relationship is.
We also deliver group work programmes in schools looking at healthy relationships and staying safe, plus one-off ‘bitesize’ sessions on healthy relationships. It’s a fantastic project and we’re so proud of it. Wish us luck at the awards!
We currently have spaces available for our city-wide healthy relationships group for 13-16 year old girls.
The Key girls group is for young women aged 13-16 from Leeds. It’s for those who have been in an abusive relationship themselves, have grown up around one, or who have something going on that might mean they may enter an unhealthy relationship in the future for example low mood, low confidence or difficult family relationships.
The group meets weekly on a Thursday evening in the city centre during term time, we provide taxis to get to group and home again. It’s a 26 week programme with sessions covering topics such as staying safe, building self-esteem, healthy family relationships, the impact of abuse on children, identifying relationship abuse, CSE, self-harm and managing difficult emotions like stress and anger. The group is really friendly and there’s no pressure to share anything they don’t want to.
When group members have completed the initial programme, there is the opportunity to go on to our Moving On Group if support is still needed. Young women can contact us themselves or be referred by a professional.
For more information, a leaflet or to download a referral form, please see our website – https://www.womenshealthmatters.org.uk/what-we-do/the-key/.
*Please note that we also have a Key young women’s group for those aged 16-25, but this group is currently full.*
Last week, our youngest group – The Key girl’s group – came to the end of the programme. For some group members, this meant their final session when they move on to other things (other groups, individual support or no longer needing any support). As The Key is a rolling programme (meaning that people can start at any point and finish after completing a set number of sessions), the rest of the group are staying with us. It was a time for everyone to think about how far they’ve come while they’ve been with us, whether for 5 sessions or 15, and to think about all of the coping mechanisms they’ve learnt.
The first flower showswhere they were before they came to The Key, where they used words like ‘alone’ and ‘depressed’.
The middle one shows where they are now, ‘more control & stable’, ‘Happy’ and ‘not overdosing or cutting’.
Throughout the programme, we’ve talked about being kind to ourselves, especially when the world around us doesn’t feel so kind. We can receive so many negative messages about ourselves from partners, family, the media and society in general that it’s so important to take time to love ourselves. Again, the girls thought about all of the sessions they’ve done with us, including those on abusive relationships, healthy family and friendships, self-harm, self-esteem and managing difficult emotions and came up with these ‘gratitude mirrors’.
The mirrors are there for when we are feeling down or rubbish about ourselves, as reminders of how amazing we are. The girls came up with amazing positive messages including things like ‘I am capable of so much’, ‘You always do just fine’, ‘Everyone believes in you’ and ‘Never forget who you are’.
For some of us, it’s taken a really long time to be able to believe these things about ourselves so it’s especially powerful when a group of us believe them.
If you or someone you know would like to join The Key Girls Group we currently have spaces, it’s for girls 13+, we meet weekly in the city centre after school/ college and we provide transport. Get in touch with us on 2762851 or email firstname.lastname@example.org