A new women’s drop-in centre to provide support and education services to women suffering with emotional and domestic issues is to be opened at Goldsmiths College in Lewisham.
The Centre, which will be staffed by a team of volunteers is part of Goldsmiths’ Open Book project, which encourages those from offending and addiction backgrounds to take up education, will provide a “safe space” for women dealing with alcoholism and issues of mental health, domestic violence or drug abuse.
“We’re committed to introducing more women to education,” said dyslexia tutor and protect leader Fiona Taylor. “The Centre offers a safe entry point for women, from any background, to come and find out more about the different routes into education.”
The project will be run by a group of five female volunteers who have all come from “hard to reach” backgrounds. Taylor, who herself came from a background of drug addiction and mental health problems, said she hopes “by sharing their own experiences, the team can better advise women facing similar issues”.
She added: “Women can find it hard to express the issues that are affecting them in a male dominated environment and are often left feeling isolated. The Centre is a truly safe place where women can discuss any issues that are affecting them.”
Alongside seeking support and advice, women can learn new study skills and attend classes in writing, philosophy, and art, with some women currently applying to study at degree level.
“Of course education does not solve all the problems people have in their lives,” said Taylor, “but I know from personal experience that placing your focus on something else – something positive – is a healthy and rewarding experience.”
Taylor hopes the centre will bring together women in the local area who feel their issues are poorly understood in the ‘mainstream’.
“Women who have children are reluctant to turn to their GPs, addiction agencies etc, for support out of fear that their children will be taken away from them. The women’s drop-in is a starting place for what we hope to achieve in the local community which is to encourage and support women into higher education,” she said.
Statistics published by the Home Office in March 2012 show in the last year alone, there were over 1 million female victims of domestic abuse in England and Wales, with one in four women experiencing domestic abuse since the age of 16 years old.
The Women’s Drop-in Centre is open every Thursday 11am-1pm in the Angela Davis Room, Goldsmiths Students’ Union. Contact Fiona Taylor for more information email@example.com or visit http://www.gold.ac.uk/outreach/open-book/