A new campaign is being launched to help boost efforts to ensure the survival of the Nacro’s SWITCH (Supporting Women in the Community and Home) Project in Tees Valley.
The SWITCH Project, delivered by social justice charity, Nacro, helps hundreds of disadvantaged and vulnerable women, many of whom have been victims of domestic violence, sexual abuse or exploitation. Tailored support ranges from equipping women with accredited training and work skills, and support to improve life skills and self-esteem, to help with managing drug and alcohol dependency and improving personal safety and sexual health awareness.
Due to the impact and success of the SWITCH Project, Big Lottery funding which was initially in place to cover a three year period from 2012 until 2015, was extended beyond usual terms to cover a further three years up until March 2018. Despite the project having numerous supportive partners and stakeholders, the SWITCH Project will close on 31 March 2018 unless alternative funding arrangements are secured.
Following a joint visit to the SWITCH project from Home Secretary, Amber Rudd, and Simon Clarke, Conservative MP for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland last year, Simon Clarke MP returned for a round table event on 19 January 2018 to explore how local stakeholders can work together to save the project.
It is hoped that the efforts of local authorities, commissioners and organisations will result in the project being locally funded and sustained, enabling the project to continue beyond March 2018.
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 abusive 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 and 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 will do if the SWITCH Project closes.”
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 very concerned about what will happen to the women who rely on the project if it has to stop, as there is a danger that many vulnerable women and their children will not receive the help that they need. We are grateful for all the support the project has had from local people and organisations and we are hopeful that we can work together to continue the project and sustain it locally.”
Simon Clarke, Conservative MP for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland, said:
“The SWITCH project delivers life-changing services and support in the Tees Valley area and hundreds of women benefit from this support every year. I encourage everyone to support the ‘Save our SWITCH’ campaign so that we can all do everything we can to save this important service, and make sure that vulnerable women and their children continue to receive the help that they desperately need.”
To support the SWITCH project, visit the campaign webpage to make a donation or download the SWITCH logo and take a selfie or photo with friends, family or work colleagues, and share it on Twitter using the #SaveOurSWITCH hashtag.