New women’s support centre opens in Burnley

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A NEW specialist centre providing free support for some of Burnley’s most vulnerable women has opened.

The centre, in Nicholas Street, appropriately opened on International Women’s Day, is being run by staff and volunteers from East Lancashire Women’s Centres, which already has facilities in Accrington and Blackburn.

Help includes mental health support, well-being, individual casework, finance and debt management, employment support and legal advice as well as a staffed crèche.

Women will be given the chance to learn and develop personal effectiveness, self-help skills and techniques through attending a programme of structured training, with progression routes onto accredited training in literacy and numeracy and IT support training.

They will also have access to counselling, cognitive behavioural therapy, and clinical interventions, and the centre will develop provision for street sex workers.

Chief officer Sarah Swindley said: “The team are very excited about this opportunity to build on our experience in other areas to develop our work in Burnley.

“We have already been warmly received by the Burnley community and partner agencies, and know that our service can make a real difference for local women and their families.

“We have been impressed by the number of women who have already expressed a desire to volunteer for us and wanted to visit us at our launch event.”

Lancashire Probation Trust will locate offender managers at the centre to provide a women-only environment for female offenders to report for their appointments.

Kevin Robinson, chief executive of Lancashire Probation Trust, added: “Being involved in this new centre gives us a real opportunity to build on our success in working in the Accrington and Blackburn centres, as well as those situated elsewhere in the county.

“I am proud that we can help make a difference in addressing the unique and often complex needs that working with vulnerable women and women offenders can provide.”

The centre will be open three days a week, extending to five days from September, and is funded by a number of agencies, including NHS East Lancashire, Ministry of Justice, and the Community Safety Partnership.