THE Covid-19 pandemic has provided an innovative “growth” area at domestic abuse charity Foundation, based in Redcar and Cleveland.
Cash received as part of an extraordinary covid-19 funding package secured by the Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) for Cleveland from the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) has helped to fund new gardening initiative Let’s Grow.
The project, which is still in its early stages, will encourage women and children living at the charity’s purpose-built domestic violence refuge to garden, grow plants and vegetables.
Gardening is recognised as a healthy way to reduce stress and anxiety. It also helps to promote a sense of mental and physical wellbeing at a very emotional and stressful time for the residents, who are escaping domestic abuse.
Let’s Grow also aims to boost self-confidence and encourage residents, who may be withdrawn and isolated when they come to the refuge, to socialise and form friendships with staff and fellow residents.
The garden’s flowers and vegetables will provide year-round colour and produce, which can be used in healthy meals and help the refuge become more sustainable.
The MOJ grant will pay for raised beds, planters and a small greenhouse to help kick-start the project.
In addition to helping to fund Let’s Grow, the grant has allowed Foundation to set up extra wellbeing activities for clients, provided toy packs for each child coming into contact with the service and food parcels for each family. A children’s domestic abuse worker has also been engaged.
Additional services offered during the pandemic included virtual holistic and wellbeing therapies for clients and staff and an extra child therapy service.
In common with most organisations, COVID-19 compliance means strictly-prescribed cleaning regimes are now in place so funding has been useful in buying the extra cleaning products and the PPE equipment needed to comply with new Government guidelines.
Funding has also allowed Foundation to support many additional clients during the pandemic – as well as provide services in new ways.
Face-to-face sessions for all clients – apart from those at the refuge - were shelved in favour of support offered via telephone, video and social media links. Support groups became virtual and The Freedom Programme, which aims to help victims of domestic abuse make sense of what has happened to them, is now delivered online.
There is now a live, virtual drop-in for professionals working with children experiencing domestic violence. This, in turn, has enabled greater engagement with agencies, more social interaction and support.
Emma Geldart, Project Manager, said: “The MOJ funding has been gratefully received and has provided our IDVA service with a vital Triage Worker, but this will come to an end on 31 October.
“Given the increase in domestic abuse during the pandemic, both nationally and globally, we anticipate an increase in demand over the coming year. It is vital our Independent Domestic Violence Advocate (IDVA) service maintains this invaluable triage support. “
Posted on Thursday 20th August 2020