October 17, 2017
Media reports of the potential imminent closure of the Derby Women’s Centre ignored one vital fact. There is another Charity in Derby that was established 15 years ago, is thriving, well-funded, available to all women with a wide range of needs, and in the same locality….called Women’s Work.
In the words of Dionne Reid, Chief Executive, and Founder.
“For me Women’s Work is about supporting all vulnerable women that have an issue, but don’t have anywhere else to turn to for help and support. We’ve been here for 15 years – we don’t judge women. Whatever your problem, we’ll try our best to help and support you”
One of their first projects was with sex-workers in the area, which continues to this day. But Women’s Work has evolved significantly over its life and embraces projects covering
- life skills,
- parenting, family support
- dealing with abusive relationships,
- support with benefits , debt and finances,
- women with very complex problems involving drugs and alcohol,
- working with children who have been affected by the difficulties that their Mothers are experiencing.
The drop in sessions, and coffee mornings can provide lighter touch support with job searches, form filling, signposting, peer support etc, as well as the opportunity to meet with experts who visit including solicitors, drug therapists, healthcare, social care, counsellors, workers education and many more.
Women’s Work support over 700 different women per year, and this number continues to grow.
Intriguingly, the problem that Dionne has, is not having enough physical space for all the activities the agency offers…and not simply money, which is an unusual position for a charity to be in these days. So why is Women’s Work in this strong position whereas others, seem to struggle to get funds?
“It’s so important for a charity to be professionally run from Day 1, like a business, as we’re relying on the outside world to fund and support us. We have structures, policies, procedures, good reporting, regular accounting in place, and we do it on time as we are accountable to our funders.
Our funders come back to us and comment on how well we’ve done, how strong our reporting and evidence is, and we have a great staff team. We have governance, I’m accountable to my Board of Trustees, and I meet them regularly.”
Whilst Dionne is there to lead the charity, and provide the vision for the future, there is one job which is always on her mind.
“Fundraising is what I do, that’s the bulk of my job”
But this is not about tactical fundraising, and living from hand to mouth and hoping that funders will come back. The professionalism inspires confidence with funders, and partners, and results in repeat financing…and looking ahead for 3 years and beyond
“It’s about planning. I work way in advance , because I know how long the funding cycle takes”
On 1 April 2017, Dionne had secured 100% of her funding for the following 12 months, most of it is committed for the following 2 years. She is working with over 20 funders, with current contracts extending for 3 years, so the charity is not at the mercy of any one funder not renewing.
All of this hard work and focus means that the Women’s Work can deliver its core objective of “supporting vulnerable women”
The location on Charnwood Street, has served them well. If they had more space they could support more women, quickly. It’s as simple as that, Dionne is that confident. The problem is the right property. Much of the space in the City Centre ( and they need to be there) is shared accommodation and that is not appropriate with the work they’re doing.
So, when Dionne is not fund-raising, she’s searching the City for a suitable building they could use…and she has made many approaches. When she is finally successful, then it will be a new chapter in the history of Women’s Work and a major boost to the support available for vulnerable women in Derby.