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.
We’re so pleased to be able to say that our new wellbeing group has started! It’s a monthly group for asylum seeking women, funded by the Lloyds Bank Foundation. The group brings women together to make friendships and reduce loneliness. Each month we’ll share food, have a go at crafts, mindfulness activities and much needed relaxation. It’s a fab way to come together and share our stories and coping techniques, have people to talk to and obviously, have fun!
In our first session we looked at what things we would like to do in the group, women suggested great ideas like going for walks, visiting local museums and trying new arts and crafts activities. In our December session, one of the members is going to teach us how to knit while we come up with a name for our group. It can be such a difficult, stressful and lonely time of year, so it’s lovely that we can all be there for each other while learning new skills. We’ll keep you posted on the kinds of things we get up to!
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.