We want to create a Community Hub for women which features a welcoming space for women to meet and reconnect, to help them recover from the impacts of Covid-19 and to help our organisation, our community and our service users.
We have seen first-hand a significant impact on mental wellbeing across our service users, as well as an increase in requests for basic support around foodbank vouchers, toiletries and clothing for families. During Covid-19 we have heard from women that they are feeling lonely, anxious, dealing with issues such as agoraphobia, facing loss and grief, finding it stressful to juggle childcare and work, and struggling with finances and employment. Our new hub will support women to overcome these things.
ABOUT THE HUB
We want to create a Community Hub for women which features:
- a communal space where women can meet each other informally;
- a flexible group space where peer support groups, networking events and educational/inspirational workshops can take place;
- a retail area where local female-led small businesses can sell their products;
- a public IT area to help reduce digital exclusion;
- a clothing, food and toiletries bank for women struggling to afford these items;
- a new window display to promote our services to the local community and provide information/advice (e.g. on Covid-19, mental health);
- a green space in our outside courtyard for gardening workshops/clubs.
ABOUT LANCASHIRE WOMEN
Lancashire Women is a leading charity for women in Lancashire. Our vision is for all women in Lancashire to be valued and treated as equals. In the year before the pandemic Lancashire Women supported over 8500 women across Lancashire with 1-1 and group support on employment, mental health and wellbeing, and finance, benefits and debt.
During the pandemic we have continued these services and rapidly increased our online and phone services. Now we are planning the re-opening of our centres and we are excited to Build Back Better.
THE IMPACT OF COVID-19 ON WOMEN
Covid-19 has had a huge impact on our income; fundraising events have been cancelled and we have not been able to deliver all our services.
We also know Covid-19 is having a huge impact for women:
- Women are more likely to be carers for children or elderly relatives, or to work in caring professions such as for the NHS or in social care (Women’s Budget Group, 2020).
- Young women are disproportionately likely to work in the sectors worst affected by the lockdown (Young Women’s Trust, 2020).
- Economic impacts are greater for women who are generally earning less, saving less, and holding insecure jobs or living closer to poverty (Women’s Budget Group, 2020).
- A survey by the University of Exeter at the end of the first lockdown found women’s mental health was affected more than men’s, women were more likely to have lost their job than men, and had increased time spent on housework and childcare much more than men (University of Exeter / IZA Institute of Labour Economics, 2020).
- We have seen first-hand a significant impact on mental wellbeing across our service users, as well as an increase in requests for basic support around foodbank vouchers, toiletries and clothing for families. During Covid-19 we have heard from women that they are feeling lonely, anxious, dealing with issues such as agoraphobia, facing loss and grief, finding it stressful to juggle childcare and work, and struggling with finances and employment.
BUILDING BACK BETTER
We want to create a welcoming Community Hub in our Accrington Centre, to help women recover from the impacts of Covid-19 and to help our organisation, our community and our service users to ‘Build Back Better’. We want the Hub to be a relaxing and supportive space; which offers a range of facilities for women to get advice, access 1-1, group and peer support, gain skills, learn, meet others, build friendships and live safe, happier and more positive lives.
We have had a presence in Accrington since 2002 and have fantastic links with the Accrington community and other charities and grassroots groups working locally. Our Accrington Centre is our head office and flagship centre, and it will serve as a model for our other women’s centres across Lancashire.
CREATING THE HUB
We have already begun the renovations and invested our own funds in:
- knocking down a dividing wall to open up the ground floor
- painting the walls
- removing office furniture
- consulting service users on what they want from the space
We need to raise additional funding to complete the project and re-open the centre. We need to raise funds for:
- comfortable chairs and tables;
- a children’s play area;
- a reading corner;
- craft supplies storage;
- a screen to section off the group space from the communal space as needed for more formal sessions;
- retail cabinets;
- a coffee/tea station with hot water urns and cups/saucers/cutlery;
- four desks (for computers already sourced);
- storage for a clothing, food and toiletries bank;
- new window vinyl's and digital window display;
- raised beds and gardening equipment;
- a new back fire-exit door to make our centre more secure and to improve accessibility for people with disabilities;
- new flooring throughout the ground floor of the centre;
- new double-glazed windows to replace current single-glazed units which are rotting; which will improve energy efficiency of the building;
- an upgraded building security system.
We want to reopen our centre in July 2021. By completing the renovation we’ll provide a relaxing, welcoming space for women to reconnect, and be in a much stronger position than before the pandemic to meet our service user’s needs, and diversify and expand our service offering: we will be able to ‘Build Back Better’.