SWITCH have been busy implementing a COVID-19 restrictions exit strategy. There has been a focus on getting the people we support socialising, doing activities and leaving the house. For some background, the SWITCH (Supporting Women in the Community and Home) project provides support to vulnerable women aged 16 and older who face a range of health, social, financial, educational or housing needs, to enable them to regain positive control of their lives.
Prior to lockdown many of the women we support struggled to leave their home and on the odd occasion they did, they were prone to severe anxiety, panic attacks, and stress. The people we support have found it hard to make new friends and join in on activities – even in a women-only safe space. For some women, this has gone on for many years.
We were finding that this impacted their children who would assume this was the norm. Much of the progress the people we support had made prior to lockdown was lost, meaning many refused to leave the house.
At the time, we were fortunate to gain access to some funds from our local Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC). This allowed us during lockdown to provide all of our service users with much needed essentials: food, gas/electric, clothes, arts and crafts, mobile phones with top ups and tablets so the people we support and their children could remain in touch with family and friends.
We were then given further funds from the PCC, which allowed us to look at how we could encourage the service users and their children back into the community. This has allowed us to organise the following activities:
- Teesdale Community Resources Hub had an away day carrying out activities to help build confidence, work as part of a team and meet new people. The people we support participated in canoeing and other water activities. For some of the women, they had never been in the water like this before! They also took part in climbing the high ropes and once they gained confidence, completed the leap of faith. We were able to provide the transport and lunch as part of the day.
- We have also organised six weeks of trauma counselling for a small group of five people we support at a time. In the session, they practise creative art and the first group have completed their sessions and have gone on to participate in the TCR Hub activities. We have been fortunate enough to secure some space at Nacro Middlesbrough education centre, so our service users are able to access much easier.
- For those ladies who were struggling to be part of a group, we organised 1-1 trauma counselling through therapeutic art. Two service users were more worried about the effects from domestic abuse and lockdown living with the perpetrator and the influence on their sons’, one 24 the other 21. We stepped in and asked if they would attend the 1-1 trauma counselling – this has been completed with great success!
- We have organised self-defence groups, where those affected by domestic abuse are able to participate in how to protect themselves and their children safely and within the law. It helps them to recognise signs of danger, how to safely defuse a situation, how to be aware of their surroundings and alert to danger. Again, this has been very effective in those engaging have signed themselves and their children up for further classes.