A new women’s centre for ladies in Blackpool has opened its doors, offering counselling and support to those who need it.
The service was previously run as Fylde Coast Women’s Aid out of a building on Edward Street, Blackpool, but it has been taken over by Lancashire Women’s Centres which has opened a new centre on Church Street in the town.
And already women are signing its praises.
Tracy Harvey sought the help of the service as women’s aid in 2010, and attended for two years before she became a volunteer.
She now sits on the reception desk of the new centre, and meets women as they come in for support.
“There’s definitely a difference since we opened the new centre,” she said. “We’ve seen more women coming in and people are making more self referrals. I think the main difference is that this new centre is open five days a week whereas the other centre was only open for three.”
And the centre is hoping to receive more money, which would allow it to open evenings and weekends.
It offers women a place to get support for a number of issues including bereavement, divorce, mental and emotional issues, depression and childhood trauma. It also offers couples counselling before 10am and after 3pm.
The centre puts on sessions on employment support and life skills training, and boasts its own housing and financial officer.
Tracy added: “I became a volunteer for the service because I wanted to give something back.”
One woman who can speak first hand of the benefits of the centre is 40-year-old Shaz.
She said: “It’s life-changing when you know you have somewhere to go for support.
“If I didn’t have the support here when I needed it, I honestly don’t think I’d be here now. I was lost without this place.”
Shaz, who lives in Blackpool, was referred to Women’s Aid by Horizon where she was seeking support for mental health issues.
She said she had come a long way in the last three years.
She added: “This place is a home from home, and it’s so welcoming.”
Donna Lavrick, 43, was recommended to the Women’s Centre by Blackpool Magistrates’ Court in October.
She said she didn’t know what to expect from the centre, or how it could help, but she hasn’t looked back since she first stepped inside.
“I love coming here; it’s the best thing,” she said.
“I wasn’t able to read or write, but here I can take an English course and I’ve built up my confidence.
“It’s a really big help to be able to talk to other women who can relate to what I’ve been through.”
Debbie Topping is the new centre’s manager, and said the building was a safe, comfortable place for women to make new friends and seek any help they might need.
She added: “We are here for the woman in the street – the woman who has had a family and lost her confidence or a woman who needs skills to get into work..
“This is an exciting time for women in Blackpool.”
lFor more details, visit www.womenscentre.org.