On 13th September 2017, South London Humanists hosted a talk by Anna Cummins, Chair of Sutton Women’s Centre.

Anna started by saying that the charity had been founded in 1985, and is now
well-established in the local community. It’s run by local women, for the benefit of local women, and has specialist knowledge of domestic violence.

The service provides a safe, women-only space where women can access support, advice, information and education to help them achieve their potential and develop their skills.

There are 25 domestic violence counsellors, and 40 women were currently having counselling, with a further 100 on the waiting list, so the desperate need for the service is very clear. Referrals come from the public and voluntary sectors, with some self-referrals. The service is funded by the Big Lottery.

There is a programme titled the Freedom Programme, which is funded by the London Borough of Sutton. Two hundred and ninety nine women had already attended the 12 week programme, which assists women to recognise the signs of abuse and control, and understand the impact of Domestic Violence on their children.

Additional and on-going domestic violence support is part-funded by the London Borough of Sutton, and takes referrals from the Freedom Programme facilitators. There is a facilitated Face book group with 62 members. The Programme offers a court-buddy, and support at care-plan review meetings, crisis intervention, face to face or telephone support. All these activities are unfunded.

There are ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) and IT lessons funded by City Bridges Trust, and Meet-a-Mum service funded by Children in Need. The service provides an Open House for isolated women on a self-referral basis. Arts Network Sutton funds a Women’s Writers’ Group, now in its second year.

An open discussion followed Anna’s talk, and the discussion was particularly centred around the worrying drop in the number of refuges, at the same time as an increasing number of reported cases of domestic violence are being recorded.

At the end of the meeting we thanked Anna very much for her very interesting and important talk.

Contact details for Sutton Women’s Centre are as follows:

Contact telephone number 0208 661 1991

E-mail; info@suttonwomen.co.uk

www.suttonwomen.co.uk