A domestic violence drop-in centre has undergone a £500,000 relaunch.
Preston Domestic Violence Services (PDVS) faced closing it’s HOPE Centre in St John’s Shopping Centre and stopping night volunteering because of a lack of money.
But late last year the charity receieved a £500,000 Big Lottery grant, just as it revealed calls to its 24-hour helpline had soared 13 per cent - from 3,710 to 4,241 in a year.
Yesterday, centre staff, service users and local dignitaries reopened the Centre, which will now offer a wider range of services.
Safiya Badat, deputy chief executive of PDVS, which helps women and children currently experiencing domestic abuse or who have experienced it in the past, said: “We’re really excited to be relaunching the centre.
“It’s still in the same location, because it’s very central and easy to access, but we’ve expanded our offering.
“When we had our last lot of funding we used to open Monday to Friday from 10am to 3pm, then when the funding stopped, we could only open two days a week.
“Now we’re offering the drop-in service from Monday to Saturday, with a late night till 6pm on Wednesdays for women who work.
“It’s a big difference, and we’re thrilled about it.”
The greater availability means PDVS is taking on more trained volunteers and social work students to work with the three co-ordinators and team leaders led by Safiya.
Safiya added: “We’re also going to be running more services such as counselling, sewing classes, and cook and eat sessions.
“We’ve got local solicitors coming in several times a week to hold surgeries, we have a partnership with the job centre, and we offer free, confidential advice on things like forced marriages and immigration to people whose first language isn’t necessarily English.
“We’re really keen to be service-user led, and are looking at running new sessions that the women want on things like form-filling, as many are keen to apply for jobs.
“It’s about empowering women, providing a safe environment they know they can drop-in to, and having a mix of both theraputic and practical classes and services.”