A domestic abuse charity has won a top national health award.
Bromley and Croydon Women’s Aid (BCWA) has been recognised for its work to providing refuge to women and their children who are escaping domestic abuse.
In the year ending March 2021 BCWA supported 1,572 women and children across its services, including housing 263 women and children in refuges.
It was chosen from more than 350 charities across the UK as one of the 10 winners of the 2022 GSK IMPACT Awards. Now in their 25th year, the awards are designed to recognise the outstanding work of charities working to improve people’s health and wellbeing in the UK.
They will receive £40,000 in unrestricted funding as well as expert support and leadership development provided by leading health and care charity The King’s Fund.
Constanze Sen, CEO of Bromley and Croydon Women’s Aid, said: ‘We are absolutely delighted to have been chosen as one of 10 award winners of the 2022 GSK IMPACT Awards. Domestic abuse has a devastating effect on women and children, and the pandemic has led to a huge increase in need for support.
“The award not only recognises the severe impact of domestic abuse on the health and wellbeing of our clients, but also celebrates the impact of the work of small specialist charities like ourselves.
This award allows us to build on our successes with a generous £40,000 grant and allows us to strengthen our organisation through an in-depth developmental programme and network that will help us to further grow and develop the organisations for the benefit of the women and children we serve.”
Almost one in three women aged 16–59 will experience domestic abuse in their lifetime and two women a week are killed by a current or former partner in England and Wales. Reports of domestic violence have increased since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic and Croydon has the fourth highest incidence of reported domestic abuse of all 32 London boroughs.
BCWA continued to offer safe refuge and support to women and children who are survivors of domestic violence in lockdown. The charity delivers a range of advocacy and advice services to anyone in the local community escaping or at risk of domestic abuse, including young people and men.
The award judges were particularly impressed with the charity’s specialist services for people who experience the greatest marginalisation and barriers to accessing support.
Women with children who have no recourse to public funds are only entitled to very limited government support and can be placed by local authorities in hostels and bed and breakfasts, where they have no additional support for their, often complex, needs and are in danger of being re-abused.
In what is believed to be a first in the UK, BCWA opened a dedicated refuge for women and children in this situation. The Safebeds refuge employs a specialist worker to help with immigration, lack of money, language difficulties, mental health issues and registering with a GP.
Through this unique service BCWA houses around a quarter of all women across London with no recourse to public funds who have been the victims of domestic abuse.
BCWA has worked to build partnerships with other local charities in order to target its services, for example, it works with the local branch of Mind to offer specialist outreach to survivors of domestic abuse who are experiencing mental health issues.
Together with Age UK, the charity is piloting a project to better understand how to support older women, recognising that many will remain in abusive relationships.
BCWA runs a specialist project supporting Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) survivors and those at risk of domestic abuse, in partnership with Croydon Community Fund.
The project targets the additional barriers faced by BAME women in accessing crucial support.
In partnership with the Japanese Embassy in London the charity also offers specialist advice to Japanese survivors of domestic abuse across the country in their native language, providing help and support around the abuse, family law, housing and child custody issues under the Hague Convention.
Lisa Weaks, Assistant Director, Leadership and Organisational Development, at The King’s Fund said: ‘The rates of domestic abuse in parts of London are staggering and have risen dramatically during the pandemic. Domestic abuse has a major impact on both physical and mental health; women often arrive at BCWA’s refuges traumatised and isolated from family and friends and may be using alcohol or drugs as a coping mechanism.
BCWA offers very specialist, highly targeted services to women in some of the most marginalised communities across London. They do ground-breaking work supporting women with children who have no entitlement to state support who are at risk of being re-abused and they have built some impressive local partnerships to reach those most in need of help.”
For more information about Bromley and Croydon Women’s Aid, visit: www.bcwa.org.uk