In some parts of the world, being a woman puts you at a disadvantage.
Like in Sussex.

About us

We’re Brighton Women’s Centre and we’ve been supporting self-identifying women in Sussex for over 40 years. We help women from all backgrounds, facing all kinds of issues, to live happier lives. Women dealing with bereavement or trauma, women who have been through homelessness or the criminal justice system, survivors of abuse or discrimination – we’ve welcomed them all.

 

Please note the change in how we are operating due to the coronavirus and see the Services section for an outline of how we are delivering our services at this time:

BWC statement on Coronavirus (19 March 2020)

Our services

When you come to us, we’ll start by getting to know you: your challenges and your hopes. And wherever you’ve come from, whatever you’re dealing with, we’ll only ever treat you with respect, understanding and compassion.

 

Please note the change in how we deliver our services due to the coronavirus. Select this document for an update.

Peer group drop-in

This service is open to all women in need of emotional support, advice and information. It’s open and free to access and provides a safe, women-only environment.

During drop-in times volunteers are on hand to offer support and are able to provide information about specialist organisations. Many women come in need of a kind ear or a supportive voice, company, advice on other services or to use our IT facilities. Women can also be linked in with our food bank or holistic therapies by attending a drop-in session.

Contact

For further information please contact 07472 085374 or maddiehartwright@womenscentre.org.uk

We offer a confidential and non-discriminatory environment. Our Wednesday and Friday drop-ins are fully accessible; however, the Thursday evening group is on the first floor and access can be restrictive for wheelchair users and those with limited mobility.

Times & Locations:

Wednesdays 2pm – 4pm

St Anne’s Day Centre, 61 St James’s St, Brighton BN2 1PR (Next door to St Mary’s Church)

Thursdays 10am – 12pm

Preston Park Recovery Centre, 18 Preston Park Ave, Brighton, BN1 6HL

Thursdays 5pm – 7pm

Brighton Women’s Centre, 22 Richmond Place, Brighton BN2 9NA

Fridays 10am – 12pm

St Richards Church & Community Centre, Egmont Rd, Hove BN3 7FP

N.B. Please note that this service is dependent on volunteer availability. Whilst we endeavor to run our services each week as stated above, occasionally we will have to close at limited notice; for example, in the event of volunteer shortages.

“Drop-in makes me very happy, I have made new friends and it is a lovely caring social environment. I feel I have new family each time I visit.”

Helen, Peer group Drop-in

Inspire

Trauma Informed services for women in the Criminal Justice System across Sussex

We know that women who have most often experienced a lifetime of trauma and abuse can get caught up in the Criminal Justice System. Many of these women have had difficult experiences growing up, when those caring for them have themselves struggled as carers. This sometimes results in women feeling let down by the services and systems in their adult lives which are there to keep them safe.

Many of the women we support have complex needs stemming from poor or no housing, living in poverty, poor mental health, domestic abuse, being substance-affected and without access to services.

Because we understand that so many of the women we support are suffering from trauma because of their experiences, we prioritise listening to them and believing them; this enables us to give them the support they need to regain control over their lives.

Staff and clients work together to support each woman to find the freedom, strength and power to change her life.

We know that the Criminal Justice System is in the main set up by and for men, although women with complex needs often get involved in it. We use our extensive experience in getting to the root causes of complex needs to support women going through the criminal justice system to access the support they need when they need it. We understand that every woman has strengths and abilities and we help her to build on those strengths and to increase her feelings of self-worth and build up her resilience so she can start to change her future.

Inspire’s women-centred work reduces the frequency of offending (Justice Data Lab, 2017)

The relationship between each woman and her skilled and experienced women’s support worker is at the heart of our approach. This allows each women to build a relationship based on trust, which helps her feel safe.

Because we know that each woman is the expert in her own life, we decide everything together. This gives her the power to recognise her strengths, realise that she has choices, and choose to accept the practical and emotional support she needs. Experience shows that, to last and help her move away from a damaging past, change has to come from a collaboration between the woman and her case worker.

We work in partnership to develop safe, supportive women-only spaces enhancing the number of women who can access support

We know that feeling safe, physically and psychologically, is essential for women who are vulnerable, and that the Criminal Justice System’s standard provision can be very hard for women to deal with. Fighting for social justice and advocating for gender equality, we identify what needs to change. Being able to go to a safe women-only environment where you will be supported is essential for women to start the process of change. Inspire’s work in developing women-only hubs across Sussex ensures women can access many different services.

We know that systems can be complex and fragmented and we walk alongside women helping them to face the things they are going through

90% of service users stated the support they received was ‘hugely significant’ in enabling them to build a positive future.

What’s the difference that makes the difference?

Service users repeatedly tell us that it is the relationship with their worker that has been instrumental in them being able to bring about change in their lives.

 

Contact details and working hours for Inspire Brighton:

mariontaylor-inspire@womenscentre.org.uk / 07718208945 – 9 to 5pm Monday to Friday and every alternate week Tuesday to Friday.

Contact details and working hours for Inspire East Sussex:

Haz.Makwiramiti@cgl.org.uk / 07463264108 – 8am to 5pm Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday.

ToyBox Childcare

About

ToyBox is an Ofsted-registered early years setting, which received an ‘Outstanding’ grade in our last report. We offer high-quality early years education in a caring and exciting learning environment, specialising in trauma-informed practice. We welcome all families in Brighton and Hove and believe in offering families the wrap-around care they deserve.

We offer a free-flow learning environment which leans towards the philosophies of Reggio Emilia Approach, Vygotsky, Dewey amongst others. We offer child-led activities including: loose parts, messy play, imaginative play, sensory play, discussion tables, music, puzzles and stories. We also visit our surrounding communities which include trips to local parks, museums, library and linking in with music groups.

Achievements

STARS Award (Sustainable Travel and Road Safety)

ToyBox is thrilled to have been given a Bronze award for the STARS program which is a Department for Transport initiative to encourage safe and healthy travel options.

You can download a copy of our latest Ofsted report here.

Please follow our instagram page or Facebook for more information.

Availability

Space is available on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 9am to 2pm, term-time only. Please email toybox@womenscentre.org.uk to arrange a taster session.

Cost

£5.50 per hour to be paid on the day of each session. The shortest session available is 2 hours.

We also offer alternative funding at £4.50 an hour. Please speak to Gemma (ToyBox Manager) for more information.

Early Years Free Entitlements (EYFE): Funding for up to 15 hours per week is available for children ages 2-5 years old. Staff can help you apply for EYFE.

The Family Information Service list ToyBox in their online directory. They can also help you apply for funding.

‘He feels enormously at ease with the staff, who are very attentive to his individual needs. The centre provides a safe and caring atmosphere and he often comes home with stories or songs.’

‘She really enjoys her time at ToyBox; her social skills have improved and she now enjoys playing with other children. Her confidence has vastly improved and she is a very happy little girl.’

Contact

For further information please contact the ToyBox Manager on 07762893929 or toybox@womenscentre.org.uk

 

Accommodation Support

Coupling up: The danger of being a woman on the streets

At BWC (Brighton Women’s Centre), we have been supporting women facing all kinds of social injustice and trauma for over 40 years. Many of the women we work with are or have been homeless, so we are pleased to be hosting a workshop at Homeless Link’s national conference ‘Supporting Women Experiencing Homelessness’.

Whilst we are not exclusively a homeless service, it would be near impossible for us to have ignored the growing issue of homelessness in Sussex and across the country and how this is having an impact on women in our communities. Our work has made us more aware of women who are sleeping rough, their specific support needs and their known connections with men also living on the street.

Homeless couples living on our streets, although not a new phenomenon, has increased as the numbers of women sleeping rough has grown in number. However, with very little guidance available on how to help homeless couples, we were certain this was something that would benefit from greater research and attention.

With funding and support from Commonweal Housing, we commissioned Homeless Link to research the topic in greater depth, to shed light on the nature and origins of those relationships. The result is our report ‘Couples First? Understanding the Needs of Rough Sleeping Couples’.

Input from homeless services across the county stated that most of these relationships contain elements of abuse, violence, crime, drugs, sex work and/or exploitation. As a result, most couples on the street are seen as too volatile to be supported by traditional homelessness services, leading to them being rejected entry for a night’s stay at a shelter for example.

However, many of these relationships are not consenting in the traditional sense. Many of the women in these relationships will have entered into the relationship for protection.

Denying women access to shelter can be detrimental to their overall safety, not least because it means they must spend another night on the streets – frighteningly, life expectancy for a women living on the streets (43 years) is even lower than that of a man (47 years). In the case of females in rough sleeping couples, the situation is more complicated. By offering no support, women are forced to remain in unsafe and abusive relationships and given no safe pathway out of the situation.

Instead, our research suggests that rather than immediately denying couples access to support, taking a ‘Couples First’ approach can return better outcomes for both people in the relationship. By this, we mean treating the couple as a couple, supporting them together and individually, to ensure positive and safe outcomes.

We know that most women who are homeless suffer from trauma and abuse, poor mental and physical health, substance misuse, poverty, isolation and unemployment.

For further information please contact Lisa Dando, Director at lisadando@womenscentre.org.uk

Women’s Accommodation Support Service (WASS)

The case work approach

Women who are vulnerable in so many ways can find life very challenging. The Women’s Accommodation Support Service (WASS) aim to transform women’s lives, supporting them to move into positive futures where they can each lead a full and rewarding life.

We have been doing so using an intensive case work approach since 2009. We are highly effective in supporting women to bring about lasting change. Our approach is underpinned the following principles:

We are women-centred

Homeless services are in the main set up by and for men, but we know that women with complex needs often become homeless. We have extensive experience of getting to the root causes of homeless women’s needs so we can help them to access the right support at the right time.

We establish safe women-only spaces

We know that feeling safe, physically and psychologically, is essential for women who are vulnerable, and many women struggle to engage with the standard provision for the homeless. Being able to access support in a safe women-only environment is a crucial first step for women to bring about change. WASS are committed to working in partnership to develop women-only hubs across Sussex. This ensures women can access many different services and helps other providers to be more flexible in their responses to women with complex needs.

We are adaptive, responsive and flexible

The relationship between the worker and woman is at the heart of our approach. Women engage in one-to-one support with a skilled and experienced women’s support worker. Developing a safe, trusting relationship empowers each woman to re-connect with her strengths, recognise her choices, engage with practical and emotional support and ultimately move away from damaging lifestyles.

We are trauma informed

We recognise that most of the women we support have experienced abuse and trauma as children and or as adults. By taking women’s experiences of trauma into account we prioritise listening to our clients, believing them and supporting them to regain control of their life.

We produce support together

We see each woman as the expert in her own life. Experience shows us that for change to be sustainable it must be a collaboration between the woman and her case worker.

We are strengths-based

We recognise that each woman has assets and resources. We support her to enhance her resilience and self-worth and identify her key strengths that will support her to build a positive future.

Outcomes and impact

87.5% of women were securely accommodated as a result of their engagement with WASS in West Sussex.

“I have started college, found a home and got to keep my dog with me…. I am expanding my hobby into a self-employed small business.”

WASS is being delivered in Worthing, Hastings and Brighton with developments in Eastbourne under way.

 

Further information and contact details

All new WASS enquiries to Ruth at ruthbritsch@womenscentre.org.uk or please call 07809339704 Monday – Thursday and leave a message. We will respond when able.

Existing clients will be offered support by phone and should contact their caseworker.

Sussex

Our Women’s Hubs are closed until further notice but Hub staff will be available at the usual Hub times as follows:

  • Eastbourne 1-3 pm every Tuesday
  • Hastings 2.30-4.30 pm every Wednesday

Call Ruth on 07809339704 or Geri on 07548222511

  • Brighton Thursday 2-4 pm

Call Nicky on 07762893930

  • Worthing SCDC Hub Tuesday 10.45 – 12.45 pm

Call Jana on 07851249629

Holistic therapy

We offer high quality, low cost holistic therapies to all women in the form of one on one therapies, as well as therapeutic groups. All of our volunteer therapists are fully qualified.

We are currently looking for holistic therapists to volunteer with us. If you are interested please contact therapy@womenscentre.org.uk for more information.

 

Well-being projects

New group for 50+ women

This new group offers a safe, inclusive and non-judgemental space for women to share creative ideas, conversation and plan for future group activities over a cup of tea or coffee and plenty of biscuits! The aim is that the group is yours and will develop over time to meet the needs and expectations of those who meet there.

The group runs from 2pm to 4 pm on the 1st & 3rd Monday of each month at St Anne’s Hall (next to St Mary’s Church), 61 St James’ Street.

If you would like more information please contact the 50+ Group Facilitator, Tracey Waters on 07463288007 or email on traceywaters@womenscentre.org.uk

This group is part of Brighton & Hove’s citywide Ageing Well initiative.  To find out more please click on the logo below.

 

BOOST your self-esteem course

This is a free of charge 8-week course for women who feel they have low self-esteem. The course is run in small groups and is aimed at improving relationships and increasing confidence to access college, work and social activities. The course provides a nurturing environment with guidance through some of the complex issues which affect self-esteem, development of self-help techniques and strategies and the opportunity to share feelings, or just listen to those of others.

For further information please contact Tracey Waters, Administration Co-ordinator at traceywaters@womenscentre.org.uk

Life Coaching with Charlotte Johnson

Sessions use a combination of structured conversation and thought-provoking exercises to:

  • Improve clarity and focus.
  • Improve sense of purpose.
  • Explore and re-frame how you think and see things.
  • Notice habits that hold you back and replace them with habits that move you forward.
  • Put you into a positive, resourceful and solution-focused state of mind.

Charlotte says:

I believe that the best person to know the right solution for you is YOU (whether you know it or not yet)! I rarely give advice or offer a specific “angle”. Instead I act as a sort of mirror to you, I ask coaching questions, listen to you, reflect back observations and help you to explore your options, what’s truly important to you, and to uncover answers that move you forward.

Sessions are one-to-one and take place in a women-only environment on either a monthly or fortnightly basis.  You will be asked to pay a small donation for each session based on your income. This money goes back into BWC and helps us to cover basic running costs. For more information please come to one of our weekly drop-ins or contact Volunteer Service Co-ordinator Maddie Hartwright on 07472 085374 or maddiehartwright@womenscentre.org.uk

Couch to 5K

Go from Walking, to Jogging to Running in a supportive, women-only group with Couch to 5K at BWC.

If you’ve never run before or just want to get more active; Couch to 5k is a free, fun, friendly way to get fitter and build your confidence.  All women are welcome in this safe, non-competitive group where all abilities will be celebrated and encouraged.

This course is led by Louise, a BWC Volunteer and qualified Couch to 5K Group Leader.  It is free to join and is suitable for absolute beginners.

If you would like to find out when the next group is starting please contact maddiehartwright@womenscentre.org.uk.

No prior referral is needed however you will be asked to fill out a short registration form on your first attendance.

Write for Life!

Ever been curious about keeping a personal journal or diary? Would you like to know more about writing as a way of making sense of things, developing your intuition or expressing your feelings?

I liked learning about different styles and being inspired to write.

Write for Life at Brighton Women’s Centre is a creative writing project centred on the art of creative journaling. Our groups and workshops provide a fun, safe space to explore how writing and journal keeping supports self-care, wellbeing and creativity. There are lots of ideas on getting started as well as tips and techniques to keep things interesting and stay motivated!

The group has a cosy, creative, friendly atmosphere.

If you’re worried about your reading or writing skills – please don’t be. These groups are for all levels. No experience is needed and there will be no pressure to share your work.

Group Times & Dates:

Details of upcoming groups will be posted here soon. Or you can email sarahughes@womenscentre.org.uk to be added to our mailing list for updates.

I most liked the interaction with other women, sharing insights and experiences.

I wish I had found out about this group sooner, so please run it again!

 

Women's peer to peer support

BWC’s women’s peer to peer support service is about group activities in a safe environment. You decide the types of activities you want. These can be wellbeing and recovery discussions, creative workshops or social outings. The emphasis is on caring for and connecting with each other.

This is for women who have engaged with BWC’s or other community services across Brighton and Hove who are seeking further participation and support.

Being involved either as a peer participator or a peer facilitator, you will have the chance for:

  • Engagement and connection with other women
  • Shared experiences and a greater sense of belonging
  • Input into the types of activities and support you want
  • Developing new skills and relationships
  • Increased engagement in the B&H community
  • A chance to give back and support other women

The Women’s Peer to Peer Support Coordinator will organise, facilitate and provide support throughout. There will be group training from BWC for the peer facilitators.

To find out more contact Jane on:

janemoore@womenscentre.org.uk
07762893931

Therapy Service

Looking for someone to talk to you? We are here for you.

We are now taking referrals for our therapy service and welcome you to complete a referral form, after which you will be invited to attend an exploratory assessment to establish whether therapy is the right course of treatment for you at this time.

We offer short-term therapy to all self-identifying women and are able to offer a combination of talking therapy and movement psychotherapy.

All our therapists are self-identified women and are qualified or attending postgraduate counselling and psychotherapy courses.

We offer 12 weeks of support, with fees operating on a sliding scale depending on your household income.

For more information or a referral form, please contact Charlotte Almond on;

Email: therapy@womenscentre.org.uk

Phone: 07463 248 530

 

 

“The food bank enables me not to have to worry so much about bills; which has reduced stress, worry and improved my health. Everyone (staff and service users) are friendly and attentive to needs. It’s a very welcoming and non-judgemental place.”

Anna, service user

Get involved

Together we can change lives – and change society. When a woman becomes strong and independent, she doesn’t just change her own life. She helps change the attitudes and behaviours around her, building a society that is more diverse, more inclusive – and better for all of us, men and women alike.

Fundraise

Would you consider making us your chosen charity at your workplace? Or joining our Fundraising & Communications Group? Read more

Fundraising & Communications Group

We are looking for part-time volunteers to join our Fundraising & Communication Group. This group meets once a month (Thursday 5.30pm to 7pm). The group’s primary purpose is to plan, coordinate and execute various fundraising events over the year. Events are used to increase visibility and support for BWC as well as raise funds.

For further information please contact Maddie Hartwright, Volunteer Services Co-ordinator on 07472 085374 or maddiehartwright@womenscentre.org.uk

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Volunteer

A huge amount of the work BWC does is only possible because of the commitment and dedication of dozens of volunteers who offer their time and expertise to support BWC and the women who use it. Read more

Current vacancies

There are currently no volunteer vacancies at BWC. We recruit volunteers twice a year, and expect the next recruitment to start in July 2020. Please check here for opportunities then.

For further information about volunteering for BWC please contact Maddie Hartwright, Volunteer Services Coordinator on 07472 085374 or maddiehartwright@womenscentre.org.uk

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Team vacancies

Are you interested in joining our team? Read more

Current vacancies

Women’s Engagement Support Officer (ESO): BWC is looking for a skilled worker to deliver holistic casework in West Sussex. You will have experience of working with women who have multiple needs and be committed to working in a trauma informed, woman centred way; involving clients as experts by experience.

The post will cover Worthing, Littlehampton and Crawley in West Sussex with requirement to attend regular meetings in Brighton.

For more information or an informal chat about this post please contact the Partnerships and Development Manager, Sophie Gibson at sophiegibson@womenscentre.org.uk .

You can download a detailed job description and person specification here.

To apply please complete our Application and Equal Opportunities forms and send electronically to sophiegibson@womenscentre.org.uk by Sunday March 1st. We do not accept CVs.

BWC is an equal opportunities employer. This post is only open to female applicants as being female is deemed to be a genuine occupational requirement under Schedule 9, Paragraph 1 of the Equality Act 2020. All posts require an enhanced DBS disclosure.

*This post is open to self-identifying women.

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Become a trustee

We are currently looking for Trustees to join our vibrant Board. Read more

Current vacancies:

We are currently seeking Trustees with experience in finance, e.g. accounting, the law and data processing/analysis to join our Trustee Board.

For further information please contact Lisa Dando, Director at lisadando@womenscentre.org.uk

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Latest news

BWC has been working with the team from Homeless Stories who spent time at our centre, filming the personal stories of some of the women we support.  These films give insight into the work we do and the hopes and aspirations of homeless people beyond the stereotypes. We thank our funders the Lloyds Bank Foundation for England & Wales for making this possible. You can view the videos by selecting this link.

 

Keep up to date with the latest BWC news on our Twitter feed where you can read about our fundraising activities, achievements and recruitment as well as any updates to any of our services.

Visit our Twitter feed

“Volunteering at BWC has been a truly enriching experience for me. To be a part of such a passionate, diverse and dedicated organisation has supported and inspired me on both a professional and personal level. It has provided a safe, supportive and encouraging environment where my confidence and skill set as a practitioner have been able to grow.”

Sara, Holistic Therapy volunteer

Contact us

Nobody knows exactly what it’s like to walk a mile in your shoes.
But we’ll walk the next mile with you.

For general enquiries:

Tracey Waters, Administration Co-ordinator

traceywaters@womenscentre.org.uk

07463288007

For management and media enquiries:

Lisa Dando, Director

lisadando@womenscentre.org.uk

07702879104

For volunteering enquiries:

Maddie Hartwright, Volunteer Services Co-ordinator

maddiehartwright@womenscentre.org.uk

07472 085374

Find us at:
22 Richmond Place,
Brighton, BN2 9NA