A Bognor Regis-based women’s centre that provides support to vulnerable women across West Sussex is moving to a bigger base with a wider range of services.
My Sister’s House Community Interest Company (CIC) was established in 2015 and provides practical, emotional and therapeutic support to vulnerable women in a safe, women-only space, with the assistance of workers and peers.
Local entrepreneur and My Sister’s House chair Kitty Waters said: “The service is so well used that it has helped over 350 women in 2017 and there’s a waiting list for services.
“Women love it, as they come to the shop as a drop-in centre. That’s how we create a bond with them and help them access services.”
Above all, the centre aims to provides a safe, welcoming, non-judgemental place to talk to someone and be offered support.
It aids a population of vulnerable women who are characterised by a range of issues including histories of physical, emotional and sexual abuse, drug and alcohol addiction, trauma, and mental health problems.
It also assists women who may be having a difficult time at one point in their lives.
These range from experiencing a recent loss, such as bereavement, to suffering poverty from unemployment, relationship breakdown, or being a victim of crime, accidents or illness and disability.
Support is provided to clients in tailor-made interventions that aim to address a range of underlying issues.
The centre has now secured new premises for a women’s centre on Clock Walk, Bognor Regis.
Kitty said: “This is exciting, as it enables us to create a cafe and a training centre for women where we can put on educational courses. The big vision is to become self-sustainable.”
With this in mind, the centre is looking for professional trainers who are willing to run courses at a variety of levels.
She said: “They can come in and educate women who use the centre.”
The new building comes free of charge thanks to support from Centric Community Projects, a charity which works with landlords to offer free space for charities and community projects.
Kitty said: “We now need office equipment to support the training centre. We are suddenly able to help more women but, at the same time, there are things we really need.”
For the one in four women in the UK affected by domestic violence at some stage in their lives, finding a source of ongoing, targeted support can be life-changing.
A source of safe shelter to victims of domestic violence in the Chichester and Arun districts, My Sister’s House offers a drop-in service and holds a domestic abuse surgery and confidence courses.
All of this is aimed at inspiring women to live to their potential.
The centre has already won a slew of awards, from Spirit FM Local Hero 2016 to Community Person 2016 Bognor/Chichester Observer.
Most recently, was shortlisted for Best Charity 2017.
It is also the recipient of one of only 38 grants given to ‘change makers’ in the women’s sector by ROSA, a charitable fund that supports initiatives that benefit women and girls across the UK.
My Sister’s House is currently inviting local ‘celebrities and influencers’ to support it on its path to helping women get their lives back on track through a blend of collective action and personalisation.
Hopes are that patrons, celebrities and brand ambassadors with high profiles will help raise the centre’s proﬁle and generate awareness around domestic violence.
Julie Budge, founder and chief executive officer of My Sister’s House, said: “We have learned that many of our clients have been unable to beneﬁt from mainstream services, because their needs have been considered too ‘complex or challenging’ for the structures of conventional one-off services.”
She said: “Our unique approach offers help to women to access multiple, integrated services and improve health, personal and socio-economic opportunities and we are in urgent need of local patrons with high proﬁles to help us raise awareness for domestic violence.
“Support from high proﬁle patrons would help My Sister’s House secure the key management roles in the short-term to lead vital future areas of work: improvement of the centre’s assessment of need and outcome measurement tools, increasing user involvement, development of wider collaboration to secure contracts and more funding for key services in the longer term.”
For more information, call 01243 697800 or visit http://mysistershouse.info