A charity which helps support female victims of abuse and trauma in Sheffield is celebrating after being awarded a £489,751 Lottery grant.
Sheffield Women’s Counselling and Therapy Service, based in Upperthorpe, received the cash from the Big Lottery Fund’s Reaching Communities programme.
It will be used to continue and develop the Life Beyond Trauma and Abuse project, which offers specialist counselling programmes to girls and women aged over 16, including one-to-one sessions and psychotherapy.
The grant will enable a tailored programme of counselling support lasting up to 12 months to be offered.
A new therapeutic group worker will develop and deliver a programme of drop-in sessions and peer support.
The project will aim to support 400 women who have faced a range of issues including psychological, social isolation, low self esteem and difficulty in developing relationships as a result of trauma or abuse.
The Big Lottery awarded the grant as part of a £1 million package in Yorkshire.
Beth Longstaff, business development manager for the charity, said: “Given what we know about the scale of abuse nationally, it is likely there are over 35,000 women in Sheffield who have suffered sexual assault or rape as children or adults.
“Demand for our service has increased by 21 per cent over the last year alone.
“We know what a devastating lifelong impact abuse can have, and even if only a fraction of these women seek help the need for services is immense.
“Sheffield Women’s Counselling and Therapy Service provides a safe, women-only environment where survivors can break the silence and share their experiences, often for the first time.”
One service user said: “For me these sessions have meant the difference between ending each day desperately hoping I won’t wake up to another, and now looking forward with a positive mind to what the next day will bring.”
Big Lottery Fund spokeswoman Alison Rowe said: “The Big Lottery Fund is proud to award projects that are helping to improve the lives of so many people this Christmas.
“We look forward to continuing this ever important investment in good causes into the New Year enabling people to have better life chances.”
The service was set up in 1988 when a small group of volunteers discussed the idea of a women’s therapy centre after raising concerns about the lack of accessible and affordable therapy services for women in Sheffield, particularly women who had experienced sexual abuse.
The charity also provides services to refugees and asylum seekers.
n To find out more about the charity, to volunteer or to raise cash call 0114 2752157.