Helping survivors of abuse rebuild their lives

BCWAlogoThis week #madeinsandwell Monday celebrates Black Country Women’s Aid (BCWA), a charity that helps over 8000 victims of abuse every year to escape violence, cope with trauma and rebuild their lives.

Based on Victoria Street in West Bromwich, the organisation was founded over 30 years ago when a group of local women opened a small safe house. Today, the charity runs six refuges, including one specifically for victims of human trafficking and modern day slavery. It also manages four centres in Birmingham, Wolverhampton, Walsall and Dudley.

BCWA offers a diverse range of support under the motto ‘We listen, we support, we care’ – from welcome packages of toys, food, toiletries and clothes for families arriving at refuges, to specialist counselling, support during court proceedings and interpretation services for women trafficked from other countries. The charity was nominated for a Human Trafficking Foundation Award in 2017 for its outstanding contribution to the fight against modern slavery.

This is all made possible by the team of specialist support workers and therapists that ensure there is help available 24 hours a day. One of these is Elaine, who first came across the charity when she needed to escape her abusive husband. Now she’s a peer mentor, giving back to the organisation that helped her gain her freedom by using her skills and experience to support other victims of domestic violence.

Elaine says: “At my darkest point, I never dreamed I could discover a different life for myself but, thanks to Black Country Women’s Aid, over time I learnt to speak about what had happened to me. It allowed the process of healing to begin.”

It’s horrifying to realise how many women across our region are victims of mental and physical abuse, rape, forced marriage and slavery at any given time. That’s why we are so pleased to celebrate BCWA and the invaluable work it does in supporting the survivors and helping them take back control of their lives.

There are different ways to get in touch, depending on whether you are offering support (volunteers are welcomed for fundraising activities such as bag packing in supermarkets and placing and collecting charity tins) or in need of help. Take a look at BCWA’s contact page for details. Due to funding cuts the charity is struggling to pay for counselling for women and children in its care, so any money you can donate will be gratefully received.

#madeinsandwell Monday is a celebration of the talent and diversity within our borough. If you’re interested in being considered for a #madeinsandwell Monday profile and having information about your organisation shared on Think Sandwell and through our social media networks, read this.

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