Story by Laura Joint Laura Fraser-Crewes
Laura’s new role – helping the Sunflower Women’s Centre to grow Laura Fraser-Crewes happily admits that taking on the post of Strategic Lead at Plymouth’s first women’s centre represented 'a huge leap of faith'.
But, after 16 years as head of operations at the city’s homeless charity, Shekinah, the opportunity to shape the future of the Sunflower Women’s Centre at Hyde Park seemed just too good to miss: “My first job in the sector was at a women’s refuge in London, so this feels like coming home,” she told the Plymouth Magazine. “I’ve been here four weeks and I’m now putting the meat on the bones, making sure we reach the right people, and shouting out to everyone that we’re here. And I’m loving every minute of it.” It was always going to take a pretty special role to wrench her away from Shekinah and the colleagues she calls her 'Shekinah family'. “But it shows how passionate I am about being here. The city needs this centre – we know that by the numbers we’re seeing. And yet, can you believe this is Plymouth’s first women’s centre? It’s bewildering.” The Sunflower Women’s Centre was opened in January this year as the second phase of a three-year project by two local charities, Trevi House and Longreach. The centre is already having an impact where it’s needed. In some cases, says Laura, it’s even proving a life-saver: “We had a consultation event to gather feedback and one of the women wrote: ‘I don’t think I’d be alive if it wasn’t for Sunflower’. The biggest theme from the feedback is ‘we feel safe’.” Laura’s first big decision was to paint the front door of the centre bright yellow: “I said ‘right, I need something that says sunflower’. I also wanted people to notice that we’re here. And it worked. We get around 50 women through the door each week, in addition to our recovery groups in the evening, and those numbers are growing all the time as more people learn that we’re here.” The centre is open 9-5 on weekdays and 12-3 on Saturdays. Any woman who needs support can drop in or attend the centre’s groups and activities. Sunflower also works closely
The Plymouth Magazine October 2018
The 172nd edition of Plymouth's popular and biggest circulation "lifestyle" magazine delivered to 45,000 homes every month