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East Lancashire centres help women get the best out of life
FOR 27 years East Lancashire Women’s Centres have helped thousands of women from all walks of life.
Last year volunteers and staff helped a total of 4,000 people from Accrington, Burnley and Blackburn and inspired them to achieve their goals.
Tomorrow the 120 volunteers and 27 employees from the centres across East Lancashire will celebrate International Women’s Day, encouraging women to ‘come together’.
“It’s not like it used to be any more. There is a breakdown of community support and women don’t have that neighbour they can talk to like they did and it can cause isolation,” said Caroline Mahon, who works at the Blackburn base.
Organisers at the charity say that because of a downturn in the economy and a breakdown in ‘community spirit’ in East Lancashire, there has been an increase in counselling services.
Caroline said: “Women can become isolated at different times in their lives. Families are broken more than they have been in the past and this can lead to mental health problems. We have had people come in aged from 16 to 80 and they all need somebody to talk to. We are here to support, encourage and enable women in every way. We want them to do well and go on with their lives the best they can.”
The centre first opened in Blackburn in 1986 and has provided personal skills, therapy, housing and debt advice, courses and much more, while also branching out into Burnley and Accrington.
Grants and donations are always being sought after for the charity to run the popular courses. Last year 1,175 women attended the 117 courses that were provided.
Recently East Lancashire Women’s Centres has been working closely with street sex workers after receiving funding to help them ‘go forward’ with their lives and get the basic training for a better quality of life. They work with a large population of East Lancashire’s ethnic minority women as well.
Caroline said: “We have seen a rise in women who have been referred from the Job Centre because they need advice on working and finances. They may have been doing a traditional woman’s role at home, but because of a change in the government a lot has changed and more women have found that they have to go out to work.”
Anger management, confident parenting and cognitive behavioural therapy are a few of the services on offer but female volunteers are always needed.
“Because we are a charity it’s important to have people that want to help. We will train them on an NCFE-approved programme and we urge women to get in touch because they really can make a huge difference,” said Caroline.
What's on offer
East Lancashire Women’s Centres offer services and opportunities that help meet their aim to ‘Support, Encourage and Enable’ all women to get the best out of life for themselves and their families. Some services they provide are:
- Personal development courses to enhance skills for life and work and build self-esteem
- Employment help, including writing a professional CV
- One-to-one practical and emotional support for women who have committed an offence or are at risk of becoming involved in criminal activity
- A counselling service and counselling placements for college and university students
- Debt advice and help