Efforts to ensure the survival of the Tees Valley based SWITCH (Supporting Women in the Community and Home) Project, have resulted in £300,000 in funding from the Big Lottery Fund to keep the project running for a further three years up to 2021.
The SWITCH Project, delivered by social justice charity, Nacro, helps hundreds of disadvantaged and vulnerable women, within the Tees Valley area, many of whom have been victims of domestic violence, sexual abuse or exploitation. Tailored support ranges from accredited training and work skills, dedicated help to manage drug and alcohol dependency, improve personal safety and sexual health to support to develop life skills, self esteem and well-being.
Despite the project having numerous supportive partners and stakeholders locally and nationally, the Big Lottery funding contract came to an end and the SWITCH Project faced closure on 31 March 2018. The ‘Save Our Switch’ campaign was launched in order to boost efforts to enable the project to continue beyond March 2018, and ensure funding in the longer term. The campaign received a number of local donations and words of support.
Due to the impact and success of the SWITCH Project, the Big Lottery Fund have now extended funding arrangements beyond usual terms in order to ensure the project continues up until December 2021, whilst alternative long term funding continues to be sourced and arranged locally.
Leslie, a SWITCH service user said:
“The SWITCH Project has saved my life, without it I don’t think I would be here today. Within the space of a year, my whole world fell apart. I was trapped in an abuse relationship, my mental health was declining, and I just couldn’t cope resulting in my kids having to live with my parents. For a long time, I didn’t want to continue living or get out of bed. I just felt there was no point. When I came into contact with the SWITCH Project, they made sure that everything I needed was in place from weekly food shopping, building up the confidence to go out of the house, to keeping up with my medication and appointments. The way they cared for me and believed me, lifted me out of a very dark place and now I am able to cope and look forward to helping other women like me. I cannot even imagine what I and many other women would do if the SWITCH Project was to ever close.”
Nacro Chief Executive, Jacob Tas, said:
“The SWITCH Project is vital because there is no single service for women within the locality like it that can offer tailored support. SWITCH has helped so many women overcome critical and often interwoven issues such as domestic violence, mental health, debt and isolation, supporting them to move on, achieve and succeed in life. We are delighted that so many women that rely on the project will continue to receive the vital support that they need. We are very grateful to the Big Lottery Fund and local organisations for all their support – without which the SWITCH Project simply could not continue.”