A new report has highlighted that over 30,000 women have been supported so far by a London-wide violence counselling project.
The Ascent Advice and Counselling Project supports women and girls experiencing violence. The initiative has been working with these survivors across London for the past four years, providing one-on-one counselling sessions, group work and legal advice, amongst other services. The project is a partnership of 14 London organisations that provide support to victims of violence against women and girls (VAWG).
A report by the Child and Women Abuse Studies Unit on the Ascent project has found that in the four years that it has been operating it has supported more than 30,000 women , and delivered over 50,000 counselling sessions. The report also found that the women who have received support feel that it has had a significant positive impact, with multiple users of the service saying that it has “saved” their lives.
One of the organisations participating in the partnership is Solace Women’s Aid, a charity which has been working with survivors of VAWG for over forty years. Solace’s director, Jane Justun commented:
The partnership has been such a success. Although the focus of the project is to support women and girls experiencing violence, the combination of organisations involved has allowed us to support women with complex issues and multiple disadvantages, because of the partners’ specific knowledge with issues such as housing or disability. It has also enabled us all to provide bespoke support for minoritised women.
Another key finding from the report is that having access to a women-only service where the workers were from a similar cultural background and/or could communicate in the same first language was important to the women that the project has supported.
One user of the service added:
I have built my confidence and have someone to look after me, as I do not have family in this country. They come to my appointments with me; and came to court and to the police to help with statements. I do not know the rules and have problems with the language and this is a great help.
Ascent’s specialised support that is tailored to individual women’s needs, particularly to minorities, is not offered on the same scale by any other services in London.