A Trip to WomenCentre Calderdale and Kirklees
Women’s Voices have wanted to visit the women’s centre in Halifax for a while now. The launch of Taking Forward Women Centred Solutions was the perfect opportunity for some of us to have a look at this ‘one stop shop’, where a wide range of services for women are available under one roof.
We were greeted by a Reception Volunteer and made to feel welcome and comfortable from the minute we arrived. A warm, friendly environment awaited us with colourful, informative noticeboards and soothing music playing in the background. We spent a long time reading poetry and verses that adorned the walls, all of which had been written by the women themselves; words that told their stories, of their progress and hopes for the future. A visitors’ book was full of pages written by the women who have attended the centre over the years; they use it to convey their thanks and gratitude to the centre, a particular group attended or a special worker who helped them in a specific way.
The centre provides a programme of courses and support services for women throughout Calderdale and Kirklees. Women are offered new opportunities, practical courses, and health and wellbeing groups. The women feel that it is important that they have somewhere that feels safe, is for women only and where they are believed and respected.
There is a drop in that operates an open door policy; any woman can call in for an informal chat and a brew. It provides the opportunity to meet other women, to share experiences and to receive information, advice and guidance, and emotional support on issues affecting their lives This service operates several times a week and is available to any women to call in without prior arrangement.
Other support services include domestic violence support, a free counselling service, Evolve, that is a project working with women offenders and women at risk of offending and, The Way Forward, a multi-agency project supporting young women and girls to make decisions about their own lives and the services they receive. There is also a Wellbeing project made up of singing, art and other creative, therapeutic groups.
The idea that women can receive such help and support from so many different services and have so many needs addressed in one place is incredible and centres like this one should be more widespread; they are currently few and far between.
Women’s Voices came away from the centre feeling inspired and full of ideas about how we can make the Hub more welcoming, accessible and person-centred. It made us even more determined to make a success of Women’s Voices and to get involved in as many women centred projects as we can. There are already several opportunities coming up for Women’s Voices. We are going to be involved in the redesign of Manchester Women’s Direct Access and we will also be working closely with the council, focusing on improving services to allow better engagement with women and adopting women centred approaches.
We are in a position to make a difference to the women of Inspiring Change Manchester so it’s time to ask them what they want. If it’s a women’s space they want, let’s make it happen.