Didi and Priscilla Akutu-Carter established a concept which was awarded 'Highly Commended for Social Entrepreneurship and Innovation' as part of the William Sutton Prize by Clarion Housing Group in November 2018,
Today, EncouragingHer is no longer a concept, but a set of initiatives aimed at female survivors of domestic abuse and violence (DV).
As a survivor your past trauma from domestic abuse and violence stays with you at times throughout your life. Although, you have left the abusive situation behind, you will have been stripped of your sense of self, lacking the strength to now move your life forward in a more positive and healthy way.
That’s where EncouragingHer comes in, we work with women and girls who are ready to move their lives forward following DV trauma. We work with women in refuges, temporary accommodation or their own home providing carebags, a safe community clothing shop and a wellbeing programme to get these female survivors back on their feet.
Women and children arriving at night at a refuge or temporary accommodation is an overwhelming experience, especially when coupled with arriving with no clothes or essentials. This is a very daunting experience in an environment they don’t know, with people they don’t know.
Our branded bags are packed with toiletries, essentials and feminine hygiene products for these women as soon as they arrive. Our carebags also contain messages of hope providing a thoughtful and empowering message to uplift these women in their time of need. We can also offer children and baby carebags with additional items such as wipes, nappies, a toy, etc.
Some women due to their domestic abuse trauma find leaving the safety of the refuge/accommodation a overwhelming experience. Simple tasks such as meeting a friend for a coffee or going shopping for clothes can become an intimidating and difficult task. Some survivors may be dealing other issues such as isolation, fear, or anxiety further isolating themselves.
We’ve taken our original concept of the pop-up shop and moved it to a unit by partnering with a large retail property provider. Our women will be able to make a trip for clothing they may need, including spending time out in the community. The unit is a safe, secure space laid out like a shop with good quality clothing and accessories, including a small space to have a coffee. The shop will operate as a ‘cashless’ shop as all clothing is donated in new or nearly new condition, specifically for our survivors. Women will be able to get access to day to day clothing (coats, jackets, jeans), workwear, footwear, etc.
Many of the survivors are uncomfortable with speaking out in a group, have difficulties in establishing their boundaries and struggle with putting themselves first due to their history of domestic abuse.
Our programme helps our women rediscover themselves and understand their strengths. Most of our women have received counselling or other therapy, which helps them deal with their past trauma. What they need now is help and support to redefine themselves and move towards their future. That is what our programme is specifically designed to do.
Women attending our programme have already expressed reduced feelings of anxiety, increased levels of confidence and a greater sense of connection with their family and friends.
Didi (on the right) has over 16 years-experience working in advertising and marketing for ad agencies and global brands. She is an independent digital marketing consultant - working with clients such as Apple, Lloyds Banking Group, John Lewis, Rolls Royce, Sky TV, etc. She is now using her experience to ensure EncouragingHer is on the map, making it a recognisable brand to drive the cause forward.
Priscilla (on the left) has over a decades experience as an independent management consultant working with large European financial services institutions and more recently, she has retrained a coaching psychologist. She has a special interest in the practical application of positive psychology interventions in managing conditions such as depression, isolation and anxiety. Through her work, she focuses on the use of evidence-based practice to bridge the gap between academic communities and experts within the field of domestic violence and abuse.
We have close friends and family who have and are currently experiencing domestic violence and abuse. Our research and personal experience with survivors, has further reinforced the need for social justice in this area.
EncouragingHer is a culmination of our skills and experience, which we use to shine the light on the help and on-going support needed for female DV survivors.
With your support we can impact the lives of many more women. By backing our crowdfund, you will be supporting many women to make positive changes in their lives.
We are crowdfunding for £7,000, hitting this target will provide us with up to an additional £3,500 funding from Natwest as part of the ‘Natwest Back her Business’ initiative.