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The VOICES Hardship Fund - A Little Help Goes A Long Way
As we entered the lockdown era way back in March, the Society was about to launch its search for a new Charity of the Year for 2020/21 as part of our annual Charity Awards.
Restrictions made it tricky to host this year's event and it was decided to continue to support VOICES for a second year. It seemed the right thing to do, as not only did lockdown cut short VOICES year as our chosen charity, but the local domestic abuse charity had also been unlucky when one of our bug fundraising events, the Bath Rotary Fireworks at The Rec, was cancelled due to adverse weather conditions in November 2019.
If you're not aware of VOICES (which stands for Voices Overcoming, Inspiring, Consulting and Empowering Survivors and Services), the charity was founded six years ago by a group of local people whose lives and those of their children had been profoundly affected by domestic abuse. VOICES focus on long-term recovery and trauma support to ensure adults and children have the chance to rebuild and thrive after abuse. Starting with group recovery programmes including the Freedom Programme and the Recovery Toolkit, the charity also provides individual recovery support, specialist counselling and a monthly legal clinic. The charity also provides a platform for people with lived experience of abuse to have their voices heard by policy makers and services.
The team saw a gradual but steady increase in enquiries and referrals to the service during lockdown, and this period has given people already in challenging circumstances additional stress and worry. VOICES has been working to make people feel less isolated, to deal with anxiety and stress, and also with post-separation abuse and harassment affecting them and their children. We were delighted we were able to support VOICES further during the lockdown period as the group established a Hardship Fund to provide practical, responsive support to local people affected by domestic abuse. The Hardship Fund is designed to help people who have left their home with nothing, where support will provide a bed, fridge, or other home essentials, or where someone needs to buy fuel for heating or school shoes for children.
The Hardship Fund has seen the charity provide fresh healthy food weekly through lockdown for people shielding or unable to shop for themselves and their children, with support from Sporting Family Change. And as children go back to school this week, VOICES are sourcing help with new school uniforms and shoes. Other support made possible by the Hardship Fund includes transport to access legal and therapeutic help, support moving to refuge, clothing and personal items for local survivors and their children.
A little help goes a long way, and small donations can make a real difference, as well as providing concrete evidence that the local community cares for those among it who are affected by domestic abuse. VOICES welcome any donations to the Hardship Fund, which can be made via the LocalGiving page here:
Support VOICES with online donations to the Hardship Fund through LocalGiving.