Supporting Women and Their Families During Lockdown

Supporting Women and Their Families During Lockdown

A new report which looks at ways of tackling the disadvantages faced by hundreds of women across Greater Manchester during lockdown has been welcomed by one of our support services, Tameside Women and Their Families.

National charities AVA and Agenda put together a briefing, calling on leaders across Greater Manchester to ensure that the most marginalised women who have been hardest hit during the pandemic are better supported in their Covid recovery plan.

Tameside Women and Their Families has continued, throughout the pandemic, to support women and their families who have suffered domestic abuse, substance abuse or those dealing with mental health issues to develop better health and wellbeing.

Through collaborative working, the service helps women to maximise their household income so they can sustain their tenancies and create safe communities as well as supporting housing, homelessness and preventing eviction.

Team members here agree that lockdown has been particularly tough for many of the 400+ women they work with, but they have adapted and managed new ways of reaching out and keeping in contact with people – from remote 1-1 working and new virtual groups through Whatsapp to activities done in partnerships with other organisations.

Tracey Conley, line manager and co-ordinator at the centre said: “We found that we connected with a lot more hard-to-reach women who might not have come to the group sessions in person, through these new channels.  We’ve continued with weekly calls to ensure the women felt supported and not isolated, delivered food and winter clothing to those who needed it, and even managed a Christmas event for children when restrictions were temporarily lifted.”

Following a recent assault, A left her relationship and in a very short period of time made significant changes in her life with the support of her family and Tameside Women’s Centre.

She has been referred for counselling (through the centre) and has been invited for a job interview. Previously estranged from her family, she is spending more time with them and trying to rebuild the relationships with her siblings and nieces and nephews.

She said: “Without being able to talk to you I don’t know what I would’ve done. I had no one. Now I have got my family back I feel so much better already and I’m working with my doctor to make sure I’m getting the right medication.”

The centre, at Cavendish Mill Resource Centre is Covid-secure with 1-1 meeting rooms, and PPE so that women in crisis can still get urgent help. The centre’s sessions are managed by Jigsaw Support’s team of five, as well as a number of volunteers. They are provided by partners including Bridges, Inspire, Housing Advice, Tameside and Glossop Mind, Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB), Minted Financial Advice and the Royal Exchange Theatre.

The team also constantly sources different funding streams to help with things like additional computer tablets for women to attend the virtual groups and fuel grants to help provide gas and electric for families in winter.

One such successful art project in conjunction with the Royal Exchange around creating colourful mandalas into a mural of hope has just been completed during lockdown. It helped engage some of the hard-to-reach women, providing them with a focus and purpose, and will be displayed in the centre.

Other women have worked hard to successfully complete their Health and Social Care Level 1 in conjunction with Manchester College.

Tracey added: “Although lockdown has been hard, we have been here for those who have needed us, those who might have otherwise slipped through the net, or who might not have even spoken to anyone else these last few months – and we will continue to do so.”

If you would like more information about the service, whether you need support or have a service you can offer, contact or call 0161 331 2211.

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