Local Women’s Refuge benefits from Tackling Inequalities Funding from Sport England

Safer Places received a grant during the first phase of Tackling Inequalities Funding to run exercise sessions for women and children currently being supported by the refuge service. They wanted to encourage the families to come together and benefit from positive physical activity sessions that were delivered in a safe environment – the refuge garden. The funding was used to purchase sports and fitness equipment as well as funding an instructor to run family exercise sessions and team games. 

Lauren, Senior Family Domestic Abuse Practitioner, said:

“The funding Safer Places received has made a huge impact on the children and families in refuge. We have been able to buy sports equipment for our garden area and saw all our families, and the single individuals in refuge, playing and laughing in the garden. We were lucky enough to have a few hot weeks and the garden had never had so much use with all the children enjoying themselves and getting some physical exercise. The use of garden space has been really important as the refuge must follow COVID restrictions similar to that of a care home, meaning residents cannot use the communal living spaces…the funding has made that easier for them due to having something that draws them into the garden space.” 

From previous projects with other Women’s Refuge teams in Hertfordshire, the Herts Sports Partnership were aware that trust ia really important issue to consider, and both the staff and service users needed to feel safe at all times. Therefore it was important to connect them with a female instructor who was local to the area. The Partnership contacted Lucy, a local instructor who is a fantastic supporter of This Girl Can, and regularly champions our localised ‘This Girl Can in Herts’ campaign.  

Alex Varran, Project Officer at the Herts Sports Partnership, said:

Following an online call to introduce everyone, HSP took a step back to allow Lucy and Lauren to discuss the project in more detail including participants, days, space, etc as well as raise any concerns, share the necessary paperwork and discuss the need for confidentiality. Doing this prior to any delivery meant that the first session happened without any problems. Lucy was able to engage the families and introduce the equipment from the beginning, so that the refuge residents could make full use of it during the summer, both in and outside of the sessions with Lucy. 

When asked about delivering the sessions Lucy commented:

The weekly Family Fitness Sessions at the local Refuge have been a great opportunity to bring the children together with their mums to get physically active outside in the fresh air. There is always lots of fun and laughter as well as learning new skills and some friendly family rivalry in our relay race and Head, Shoulders, Knees & Cone game! Over the weeks it has been very rewarding to see the children gain confidence and come out of their shells. Hopefully the sessions have had a positive impact on both their physical and mental wellbeing”.  

The Partnership are discussing the next steps with Lauren and Lucy, who are looking at opportunities that will enable the project to continue. Both are keen to sustain the family exercise sessions in Broxbourne as well as provide additional physical activity and wellbeing opportunities.

For more information about our Women and Girls projects please contact Alex Varran at a.varran2@herts.ac.uk

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