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A safe haven for women fleeing domestic abuse

Local charity, Crossroads Derbyshire, was delighted to unveil their newly refurbished domestic abuse refuge, The Harmony Project, this week.

The charity, based in Glossop, has just completed a project to fully refurbish the building. The Harmony Project was the first domestic abuse refuge in the country to identify that younger women need specialist support. They work with women aged 16-24 who are fleeing abuse from partners, family members or gangs. The building, located in the High Peak, has been used to provide refuge to women and children since 1983.

In 2018 they launched an appeal to raise £170,000 to completely modernise the building, and they were overwhelmed by the response they received from charitable trusts, local companies, groups and individuals from the High Peak. The principle donor, Land Aid Charitable Trust, contributed £75,000 towards the appeal. Other donors include Equity Housing Group, which donated £10,000, local churches, businesses, choirs, the Round Table, a masonic lodge and numerous individuals.

Equity Housing Group has partnered with Crossroads to rent two of its properties in High Peak to women that leave the refuge and require move-on accommodation. The property will be available to women once they leave the refuge and will provide affordable respite to those that require it. Equity Foundation used its community investment funds to support the finishing touches to the refurbishment and to enable Crossroads to set up a 6 month pilot support group for women survivors of domestic abuse. 

The work on the building started in November 2018, and involved a rewire, new steel supports, a new window and brand new kitchen and bathrooms for families fleeing abuse. The building has also been fully redecorated and there was even a little money available for furniture and paintings.

The charity invited over 40 of their supporters, friends, staff, former residents and volunteers to view the end result before moving families back into the building. Joining them to celebrate the opening was Charlie Webster. Charlie is a broadcaster on both TV and radio - and an advocate; she also is an advisor to the Ministry of Justice on Domestic and Sexual abuse. She became a Women's Aid ambassador back in 2010 and has worked closely with the charity raising awareness and funds. In 2014 she launched football united against domestic abuse by running 250 miles in 7 days to and from 40 football clubs - and was awarded in parliament as a fundraising hero.

Charlie commented: “It’s so wonderful to see a service that has really thought about the details of what young women and their children need - not just a safe space but a place to heal from the trauma they have suffered with kindness and care that they haven’t been shown in the past. The Harmony Project to me says we’re here for you and you’re valuable and worth it, being shown that is everything to a victim of domestic abuse.”

Pam Whittle, Services Manager of Crossroads Derbyshire said: “We are absolutely delighted with the final outcome of our refurbishment. This has been a long time in the making. Since we first opened in 2013 our dream has always been to make this space young person-focused. Together we have managed to achieve that. Thank you to each and every person who has contributed and made this happen.”

Jo Hannan, Social Impact Manager, at Equity Housing Group, said: “Supporting local communities is one of our key initiatives at Equity Housing Group so we knew we wanted to help Crossroads Derbyshire to fulfil its ambition for the Harmony Project. Our financial donation has gone to a very worthy cause and we hope many women will benefit from the stable transitional homes we have provided.”

Crossroads Derbyshire, formerly High Peak Women’s Aid, has been supporting families to escape abuse in the High Peak since 1979. To find out more about the charity, or if you have any concerns about abuse in the home, call 01457 856675.



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