The Women’s Health Matters team supports within the following areas: domestic violence and abuse, parenting, women with children living in someone else’s care, women seeking asylum, women with learning difficulties and women with complex needs or mental health and wellbeing needs. 

Their outreach work allows them to broaden their reach to a wide range of women who have often found it difficult to work with statutory services. Through group work, peer support and intensive 1:1 support, the team create a safe environment where women can build trusting relationships and begin to recover their health and regain control of their lives.  Covid-19 has had a big impact on the services offered and they approached us for laptops so that women could still access their outreach services and balance possible childcare responsibilities. 

Names have been changed to maintain confidentiality but the following story shows just how much digital access can support the work of the team in times like this, and most importantly help the women that they’re working with.

Patricia had been attending a support group for some time before lockdown and getting help for her drug and alcohol use. Her attendance and engagement with Women’s Health Matters had been very positive, even though she hadn’t engaged with other services. She attended a couple of sessions with another organisation and travelled independently across the city which was a really big obstacle that she overcame.  Patricia was rightly very proud of herself.  

Sadly due to lockdown, both groups moved to remote support over the phone and via Zoom groups. She was unable to access either of these groups, or indeed any other group due to a lack of suitable IT equipment, and due to her financial situation Patricia she was unable to buy anything herself. Her mental health deteriorated noticeably due to being isolated and Patricia’s support worker suspected that she had started to use alcohol to cope with her loneliness and isolation. That’s when the team got in touch with us.

“When Patricia was handed the laptop, she screamed with delight and then she started to cry. 

‘I can’t tell you what this means to me, I can’t thank you enough’. 

The laptop represented to her the possibility of being able to access other support groups and a connection with the rest of the city.”

Since having the laptop, Patricia has been able to research more thoroughly the other services and engaged with the support videos on the Leeds Wellbeing website.  She really enjoys walking, finds this a really helpful way of managing her mental health, and has used her laptop to research the different parks in the city. Patricia has plans to work her way through those she can access and says that when she wants a drink she helps herself by going for a walk.

“It’s been brilliant to see what’s going on, I love it, just thinking about something I’d like to do and then finding out about it, and doing it!” 

It has given her back some of the confidence she gained through attending her groups, now that she is able to access online support until able to attend again in person.  She is enjoying the new groups and feeling less isolated.