For those escaping domestic abuse and dangerous environments, local safe spaces are vital – and with the rates of domestic abuse and mental health problems rising throughout lockdown, they have never been more needed.
Helping Hands Community Project, an organisation that provides support to vulnerable individuals and families in Leamington Spa, have recently launched their new initiative, the Esther Project.
The Esther Project is a community for vulnerable women, bringing them together so they do not have to feel alone with the challenges that they are facing. Covering a range of issues – including domestic violence, psychological abuse, addiction, and mental health problems – the weekly support groups welcome women into a judgement-free space to listen, learn, and share.
Recently supported by a £10,000 donation from gas company Calor, funds were used to renovate a newly rented venue that will host the weekly drop-in sessions.
In addition to the donation, Calor volunteers have also been working on the ground to help with the renovations, transforming one space from a cold, bare environment to something warm, welcoming, and safe. This room is set to be used for crafting, dining, and socialising, all adding to the holistic, trauma-informed goals of the centre.
To support them with the interior choices, the charity and Calor sought the advice of Erica Shanahan, who made deliberate decisions on colour and furnishings to create a supportive space – opting for calming pinks, golds, blues, and greens – with soft textures and plants adding to the warm feeling they were hoping to achieve.
Reflecting on the project, Lianna Kirtman, CEO of Helping Hands Community Project, said:
“The Esther project was inspired by my own personal story of overcoming mental health issues and then turning my own pain into purpose by helping others.
“Our Esther group is full of women who are often still held captive by their addictions, events that have happened to them, or words people have said, so we invite them to come to our group, where they can develop trusting friendships, receive help through counselling, as well as being reminded of their true worth, strength and courage.
“We offer opportunities for them to volunteer and do educational courses in order to help rebuild their self-esteem. We run pamper days and well-being sessions, such as yoga and equine therapy sessions, and, as we constantly remind the ladies of their true worth – we have introduced some merchandise called WOW (women of worth) that we gift to all the ladies who come to our groups to remind them they are all ‘Women of Worth’.”
To speak to a counsellor about domestic abuse, connect with a professional using counselling-directory.org.uk
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