Women and girls fight back with £48.5 million Lottery funding

June 23, 2015

Women and girls facing or affected by substance misuse, mental ill health and other complex issues such as domestic violence, sexual exploitation, and homelessness are to be supported by a £48.5 million initiative announced today by the Big Lottery Fund.

The grant maker, which is responsible for distributing 40% of the money raised through National Lottery players, will be funding activities that will be determined by the women and girls themselves enabling them to take control of their lives.

One in four women will experience domestic violence during their lifetime* and up to 3 million women and girls across the UK experience rape, domestic violence, stalking or other violence each year**.

A Women’s Aid survey in 2013/14 found that 31% of referrals to women’s refuges were turned away due to lack of space.

The Big Lottery Fund’s multi-million pound investment will largely be used to fund tried and tested work where there is evidence of success and effectiveness. It will also raise awareness, support preventative work and share what works and lessons learnt.

Christine’s story:

Christine, 49, has been through many violent and abusive relationships, starting when she was 17.

She said: “One of the worst incidents happened when I was just 20. I was friendly with my male cousin and my boyfriend saw us chatting. That night I got a beating that went on and on – it went on for hours – he just kept hitting me through the night. I was black and blue all over with chunks of hair missing but I was too scared to go to hospital. He said he’d kill me if I did.

“I had another relationship when I was about 25 which started off fine, like they all do, but after a year things changed. He went to prison for burglary and when he came out he started controlling me and made me buy dress sizes that were too large in order to hide my figure.

“He got so bad that he locked me into the house and kept the only key. He even nailed the windows in so I couldn’t escape. He eventually put a padlock on the bedroom door, gave me a bucket and locked me inside. I only escaped him by telling police about his plans to commit a burglary and when they arrested him was able to leave him.

“It’s not just the fear which make it hard to leave these men, you become so controlled and feel so worthless that you believe that you must deserve it.”

Christine had several abusive relationships before she eventually left Sheffield to escape her past and ended up in Hull where she now volunteers at the Preston Road Women’s Centre.

“I felt so low my head was down at the floor. I was scared to go. But now I feel great. I’ve completed several courses and now after volunteering for a while, I am on a work placement 26 and a half hours a week. Now my head is held high.”

Clare Jones, CBE, WomenCentre’s national lead, said: “We welcome this fund, which will be a lifeline for so many women’s projects across the country that are currently struggling to survive. It will be a major boost to projects through which women and girls are breaking free from situations that have led to experiences of isolation, shame and fear. This is an opportunity for diverse communities of women and girls to work together to overcome difficulties and build safer, more positive futures.”

Projects that will be funded will be women and girls sector led partnerships which will run activities determined by the woman and girls themselves. These could include emotional support, advocacy, financial advice, childcare, community-based women’s centres and rape support centres, and services to meet the needs of refugees, asylum seekers and black and minority ethnic women.

Nat Sloane, Big Lottery Fund England Chair said: “There is so much more can be done to raise awareness and break down taboos which affect too many women and girls on a daily basis, they are our family, colleagues, friends and neighbours. Today’s £48.5 million will enable women and girls through voluntary organisations and social enterprises to be in control of their lives and help support others in similar situations.”

Women and girls organisations interested in applying for funding can find more information at www.biglotteryfund.org.uk


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