Birkenhead MP Mick Whitley and Wirral West MP Margaret Greenwood have praised a Wirral centre which provides a safe, friendly and supportive space for women and children who have experienced or are experiencing domestic abuse.
The two MPs visited the Lighthouse Centre in Rock Ferry and met with centre manager Jill Barr along with staff and service users and members of the local Soroptimists, an organisation which works at a local, national and international level to educate, empower and enable opportunities for women and girls.
Due to financial pressures, the centre can no longer continue to deliver its Leapfrog Programme for children aged 5-10 who have been affected by domestic abuse beyond September. They would welcome the opportunity to speak with any individuals or organisations that may be able to help.
The Lighthouse Centre provides a drop-in service from Monday to Friday between 9am and 4pm and offers independent advocacy, risk assessment and safety planning. There are also specialist workshops and programmes running throughout the week to support women and children to help them navigate towards a safe and positive future.
In-house counselling, therapies designed to promote healing, recovery programmes and access to a mental health support worker are also available.
Since it is a part of local charity Involve Northwest, the Lighthouse Centre is unfortunately exempt from applying for smaller funding grants in its own right. It is in the process of registering as a standalone charity so that it will be eligible for a wider range of grants, but there are concerns that this process will take time.
Statistics provided by the Lighthouse Centre show that, since May 2021, 604 women and 327 children have been referred to the centre for support. Over 95% of women who attend the centre report feeling happier and safer after they leave, and many return to become volunteers and peer mentors.
Manager of the Lighthouse Centre Jill Barr said, “It was great to welcome two of our local MPs to the Lighthouse Centre and show them the work that goes on here.
“We have helped hundreds of women and children over the past 18 months which demonstrates there is a clear need for a centre like ours.
“We anticipate that these numbers will only increase given the cost of living crisis which reduces women’s opportunities to flee abusive partners due to additional financial and housing restrictions.
“This can result in women and children having to stay with high-risk perpetrators which of course impacts hugely on their safety, health and wellbeing.
“In the previous 3 weeks we have supported over 95 women, a significant increase compared to the same period last year.
“We are currently in need of funding to make sure that we are able to continue to offer these vitally important services to women and children across Wirral.
“To anyone who thinks they might be able to help us in this regard – please get in touch.”
After visiting the centre, Birkenhead MP Mick Whitley said, “The visit to the Lighthouse Centre gave me the opportunity to see first-hand the amazing work this organisation is undertaking to help women and children who have suffered domestic abuse.
“Meeting the dedicated team of workers who provide a lifeline of support to the all too many women and children who have been victims of domestic violence and abuse was a pleasure and a privilege.
“This service is indispensable. The team who provide it are key workers in every sense of the word. The fact that they are under such difficult financial pressure is alarming and I would appeal to all those agencies, organisations and public bodies who have access to funding to find ways of helping the Lighthouse Centre continue and thrive.
“Its work is vital, not just to the people it helps directly but to the whole community.”
Wirral West MP Margaret Greenwood said, “It was a real pleasure to visit the Lighthouse Centre and hear about the important work that they do to support women and children who have been affected by domestic abuse.
“Women who have used the centre spoke powerfully of the huge difference it has made to them and their children. It was clear to me that the support that they have received has been transformational.
“The funding challenges being faced by the centre to continue to run the Leapfrog Programme are a matter of very real concern. The centre is applying for grants, but I urge anyone who can help in any way to get in touch with them.
“The help and support that staff provide to women and children who have been victims of domestic abuse is vital.
“It is incredibly important that this facility is maintained for women and children in Wirral.”
The Lighthouse Centre can be contacted on 0151 644 4839, and you can find out more information here