Home News Sexual abuse support group in Bristol helps survivors to confront the past

Sexual abuse support group in Bristol helps survivors to confront the past

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A women’s therapy centre has launched a befriending service for survivors of sexual violence.

The Womankind Therapy Centre based Bristol is a local group that supports women with mental health challenges, including those who have experienced sexual abuse.

Having been awarded almost £200,000 of National Lottery funding, the organisation has been able to provide vital support to more women whose mental health has been made worse by the pandemic.

READ MORE: Hundreds of sex attacks on women and girls reported in Bristol

A Bristol woman who does not wish to be named said the personalised befriending service has made “all the difference” in her life and has helped her see that she “can get through anything”.

“Being able to get out of the house with her every week and walk in the park as I talk about my struggles has literally saved my life.

“I’m so happy to be on the way to getting some quality of life back again.”

A volunteer at the service said: “The woman I meet up with is amazing, she is so resilient, after everything she has been through in her life, all the abuse she has suffered, and her difficulties due to the pandemic, she is still pushing herself to go out with me every week even though it terrifies her.”

‘I am so proud of her’

Another volunteer added: “I am so proud of the woman I support for what she has put in place to keep her and her son safe from her abuser, it was so brave of her.”

For another, helping women to see the beauty in themselves has been worth it.

Nicola Coggins, volunteer coordinator of Womankind, said: “Our wonderful team of trained volunteers have supported isolated people to feel safer and more confident, get out and about in green spaces, join community activities and make new connections.



The service allows survivors to talk to trained ‘befrienders’

“A young woman who previously was unable to leave her house due to severe anxiety is now able to use the bus, go out and do everyday things, reconnect with friends and she is pleased to have got a job.”

This World Mental Health Day (10th October), The National Lottery Community Fund is highlighting the positive impacts that charities and community groups in Bristol are having on mental health and wellbeing support.

Since the commencement of the first national lockdown on March 26 last year, the National Lottery Community Fund has distributed almost £4 million to 79 projects in Bristol, which help to support mental health and wellbeing in their communities.

Many of them have seen a huge increase in demand since the beginning of the pandemic.

Research carried out by mental health charity, Mind, earlier this year, shows that 80 per cent of adults aged over 25 experienced mental distress during or before the COVID-19 pandemic and 68 per cent of young people with mental health problems said they felt worse since the first national lockdown.

Rowan Miller, Head of Funding for the South West at The National Lottery Community Fund, said: “Working with people to reduce stigma and experience good mental health is vital if we are to see communities prosper and thrive.

“It’s heartening to see so many groups and volunteers dedicated to supporting others, and particularly those in marginalised communities, to improve their mental wellbeing.”

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