Guest Blog Post by Lisa Clover, Centre Co-ordinator - Wythenshawe Safe Spots @WythSafeSpots
We are a group of ordinary women who wanted to change their community, we never believed we could do it but here we are.
It all started with a small idea and a whole lot of anger about how domestic abuse was dealt with in the Wythenshawe area. When we needed help we didn't want to go to the police, we also didn't know what services were available. This is where there idea for Safespots was born. We challenged businesses in the community to become Safespots where victims can go to be signposted to appropriate services, these now include Costa Coffee, Boots, The Forum, Wythenshawe Interchange and Mike Kane MP's office.
That was the first stage but we didn't want to stop there. We listened to the community who told us that they didn’t want to travel outside of Wythenshawe to access services. At that time there was no drop in service for victims of domestic abuse in Wythenshawe. This was shocking, particularly when you consider Wythenshawe has one of the highest rates of domestic abuse in the country. We challenged this, we won funding to set up our own centre. We held a participatory budget event in November 2015, allowing the community to decide how the funding was spent. The community got to pick the services they wanted to go in their centre.
We then set out to find the location for our centre. We will never forget walking into some offices in the town centre, these offices could only be described as a dumping ground. We were sceptical, but we never turn down a challenge. We took the offices on. We decorated, built flat pack furniture, sourced free goods, we even learnt to lay carpet. The centre is now clean, tidy and somewhere we are proud of. We hope those who find themselves needing to use the centre will feel comfortable and supported here.
This is in brief the story of our last 12 months, it has been the best but hardest 12 months of our lives. We were hugely proud to open the door to our domestic abuse drop in centre on 1st Feb, the centre is open Monday to Friday 9.30 - 2.30 and is located in Alderman Downward House Wythenshawe Town Centre. Services at the centre include, women's aid, independent choices, victim support, counselling, parenting support, legal support and employment support. We hope the centre will provide the support to local people that we didn't have.
We never believed we could do this, we never even knew we wanted to. Somebody had belief in us, pushed us and challenged us and now there is no stopping us. This centre is not the end of the Safespots journey we will continue fighting to change the response to domestic abuse.
To get involved with the Safespots project, or to find out more about the services, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org or call M: 07873889637