Helping victims of partner abuse

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Sheffield is lucky enough to have an abundance of charities and community organisations working to support people however they can.

Yet, there is one charity working to protect and support young women and children affected by abuse since 1988, which few of us have heard of.

The YWHP Sexual Abuse Support project supports women aged 16-25 and their children, who have suffered abuse, exploitation and intimate partner abuse.

The project is one of few specialist projects in the UK offering specialist, therapeutic, and practical support, as well as a safe place to live.

There were over 47,000 sexual offences against children and young people in the UK in the last year and yet a report commissioned by the NSPCC highlights the vast majority of support services, including YWHP, are operating on short term funding.

Theresa Wilding, 49, is one of ten members of staff at the YWHP (Young Women’s Housing Project).

Theresa said: “I got involved with the project because I wanted young women to know that there is help out there.

“A lot of the women we support haven’t ever known anything but abuse, or it has been going on for so long that it’s their life, so they don’t know that they have other options.

“We treat people as human beings, not as numbers or tick boxes. We know that change is possible and that little things make a big difference to people’s lives and I feel very passionately about that.”

The YWHP provides safe house as well as semi-independent flats. They also run ‘Protect Yourself’ classes that focus on healthy relationships as well as ‘PAFT’ (Parent’s As First Teachers) sessions to help mums develop their parenting skills, which South YOrkshire Community Foundation has funded over the last year.

Theresa continued: “We are always looking out for how we can do better. Each person we work with has different needs and requires a different approach from us each time.

“We know that for our young women to feel safe they need a safe place to live, so that’s why we have the accommodation.

“Many women at the project have come from care or have negative family relationships. Our ‘PAFT’ programme helps with bonding, breaking cycles of abuse, socialization and forming healthy relationships between mother and child.