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Cambridge Women’s Resources Centre Cambridge Women’s Resources Centre provides the resources, opportunities and space for women to change their lives for the better. With a proven track record, CWRC offers both accredited and non-accredited training, emotional and practical support, networking and friendship to develop and empower women, and through them, to strengthen their families and the communities they live in. An onsite crèche provides high-quality OFSTED registered childcare for all centre users. An integrated volunteer programme offers a broad range of ways in which women can get involved and contribute to the work of the centre. Our services are accessible to all women in the community with formal training programmes, one-to-one and group support and drop-in facilities including a coffee room with a library and internet access. Many women who are homeless or in temporary housing use our internet facilities for job search activities, to access Home Link and to keep in touch with family and friends. Training Programme Our training programme is funded by the Skills Funding Agency via the Cambridgeshire County Council. We run basic skills courses in Literacy and Numeracy, ESOL (English as a second or other language) and Beginners ICT. We had 98 learners on our training programme last year, 64 of which were on ESOL courses. The provision of ESOL courses brings women into our centre from many different cultural backgrounds and the celebration of diversity and social integration is a very important part of our work. This year we are running a series of art and craft based courses in partnership with Inspire. The courses are designed to be a good introduction to more formal learning and are targeted for women who have not been in work or education for the last two years. Learners have a variety of reasons for attending our courses but they are primarily to be better integrated in their local community, to increase their employability, increase confidence and to meet visa requirements. The majority of our learners choose to come to us because we are a women only environment and because we are able to work with them to overcome multiple barriers they often face in accessing learning. These barriers include: language skills; childcare needs; unemployment; cultural needs; health issues including mental health, learning and physical disabilities; low levels of confidence and nonachievement in mainstream education. Return to Work and Job Search Depending on funding streams available we aim to run a programme of Job Search activities for women entering or returning to work including our popular Return to Work Course. We also have a Next Steps advisor who is employed by Cambridge Housing Society here one day a week to give one-to-one Information, Advice and Guidance (IAG) to women. She also runs some group sessions within the training programme to ensure that our learners have the information they need for progression to other learning or employment.


The Dawn Project Dawn offers a personalised service to women with multiple problems who are in or at risk of being in the criminal justice system. Staff work with each woman on her own current priorities in a non-judgemental way while encouraging compliance with Probation and other appropriate services. Half of the women on the Dawn Project are referred to us via Probation and the rest come through the Police, Social Services, Health Authorities and through other support agencies. All women are assessed on the following nine ‘pathways’: • Accommodation • Skills and Employment • Health • Drug and Alcohol use • Finance, benefit and debt • Children, families and relationships • Attitude, thinking and behaviour • Domestic violence and sexual abuse • Sex working and prostitution We are working with women who have needs in up to 8 of the different pathways with the average number of pathways our clients need support with being between 4 and 5. We work very closely with other agencies to achieve the best possible outcomes for our clients on each of the pathways, for example a support worker form Addaction comes to our centre once a month to see women with identified Drug and Alcohol problems and women with problems around debt are referred to, and where appropriate accompanied, to CAB. We host two female Offender Managers from the Probation Service in our building one day a week and all women who report to Probation do so in our building which acts as a ‘onestop-shop’ to address women offenders needs. This has been extremely successful in increasing compliance and addressing offending patterns and behaviour. Health Depending on funding we run a number of activities under the Health Programme, these include ‘Make the Best of You’, Anxiety Management, Freedom Programme, Counselling and a Self Harm Support Group. Our aim is to have a rolling programme giving women quick and easy access to life enhancing skills. These are also available for GP referrals and commissioning. Clubs Many of the women who come to us are looking for informal social and learning opportunities where they can relax, make friends and feel part of a community. We run informal groups such as a volunteer led Art Group which meets on Wednesday afternoons and a Craft Skill Share group which meets one Saturday per month. Crèche The on-site crèche facilities not only provide women with essential childcare to enable them to access services but also give children a good preparation for nursery or school and crèche staff are available to give support and advice around a range of childcare issues. Partnership We value and actively contribute to our partnership work with many other organisations from the Voluntary and Statutory Sectors and recognise that effective partnership working brings about the best possible outcomes for our clients. We are involved in many key networks in Cambridge such as GET Group, WAVET, CCVS, the IAL (Informal Adult Learning) Partnership, the Cambridge Women’s Sector Network and the Advice Hub to ensure that we work effectively within the existing structures and are able to add value rather than duplicate and compete with existing services.


Testimonial from legal professional: “Working as I do with the most vulnerable sections of society, who are homeless for various reasons sometimes their fault and sometimes not, I find that my clients are so often rejected, judged and even despised by those they might turn to for assistance. Many of the statutory agencies I deal with seem to have as an overriding aim the practice of finding reasons why they should not help. The end result of this is that people's desperate situations become critical and I am able to help some, but for people who are at that very low ebb it is really difficult for them to communicate directly with legal representatives: their lifestyle and their communication facilities and skills do not dovetail in with the solicitors working pattern. I am always grateful when I can work hand-in-hand with a non-statutory charitable organisation, which is staffed by people who care, who have the skills and the availability to assist the client themselves and provide an effective communication interface with me as their legal representatives. The Dawn Project at Cambridge Women’s Resources Centre has impressed me beyond any that I have worked with in terms of its lack of judgmental attitude and willingness to work with anybody in desperate need. They care for the whole person and look at their situation in the round and they keep their promises. In my opinion the work of that project is absolutely invaluable and should be encouraged and promoted. It seems to me that the Dawn Project @ CWRC saves the taxpayer, the local ratepayer and the local community a massive amount of money and trouble. It produces community cohesion, it enables those marginalised and alienated from society to enter into society. It brings the dispossessed to a point where they can once again take their rightful and useful place in community. In these days of cutbacks and public indifference to the plight of the most needy the Dawn Project shines a beacon of light creating hope for those for whom all hope has been lost.� Anthony Owen Partner Balsara & Co Consultant TV Edwards


CWRC Summary of activities