Charities given a boost with Tampon Tax grants

FIVE Wiltshire charities have been given a much-needed funding boost for their projects focusing on vulnerable women and girls.

Nationally, grants of between £5,000 and £10,000 have been given to 400 small charities and community groups from the Tampon Tax Community Fund to work with women of all ages, focusing on preventative services for those at risk of crisis.

Projects in Wiltshire received almost £35,000 of the £3.4 million funding which was raised through the levy on sanitary products in 2017/18. As one the UK’s largest grant giving organisations the government asked UK Community Foundations to distribute the funds to small local projects through its network of Community Foundations across the country.

After an open application round and assessment process, the Wiltshire Community Foundation awarded the grants to following projects:

Doorway provides support to homeless and vulnerable adults with complex needs in Chippenham and North Wiltshire. Funding will support the costs of running a group to support women.

Swindon STEP provides therapeutic intervention work to vulnerable children and young people with a range of behavioural problems. Funding will meet the costs of support for young women and girls.

God Unlimited Outdoor Therapy in Shrewton provides therapies based on working with horses and in the outdoors to increase independence and quality of life. Funding will meet the costs of providing sessions and volunteering for girls and young women.

Home-Start South Wiltshire and Home-Start Kennet both received grants. They support families with at least one child under the age of five, who are struggling to cope in times of hardship or distress, through trained home-visiting volunteers. Funding will go towards the costs of providing their service.

Wiltshire Community Foundation chief executive Rosemary Macdonald said: “We are delighted to have been able to support a number of small charities and community groups in Wiltshire as part of the Tampon Tax Community Fund.

“They are all providing crucial local services for girls and women who are facing issues of homelessness, mental health and hardship. Each one of these projects will make a real difference to the lives of some of the most vulnerable people in our community.

“Unfortunately, like Community Foundations across the country we were oversubscribed for the Tampon Tax Community Fund. Nationally, only a quarter of the 1,500 applications for vital women and girls projects could be supported from this stream of funding, highlighting the growing need for funding in this area.”

The Tampon Tax Fund is one of a number of funds we manage on behalf of central government, local government, local individuals, charitable trusts and companies.

You can read more about how the grants will be used below.

God Unlimited Outdoor Therapy

An outdoor therapy that works with young people on the margins of education has been given more than £7,000 to help boost its work.

God Unlimited Outdoor Therapy works with more than 150 people of all ages from across south Wiltshire every week. Around 60 per cent of them are female.

Many of its younger charges struggle with behavioural issues and have been excluded from school or have struggled to fit in. Its aim is to give them the tools to cope with mainstream education through outdoor learning.

Older attendees suffer from depression and other mental health issues and are referred either by the NHS or social services.

The attendees help care for the horses at Shrewton’s centre and take part in range of outdoor activities, including bushcraft, gardening and games.

Director James Dwyer said: “GUL has seen an increasing need for its services. Funding restrictions since 2008 and local basing of returning armed forces are particular challenges locally. Since 2016, GUL's therapeutic output has risen a 15 per cent each year, with rising levels of anxiety, mental health problems, suicidal thoughts and a decreasing level of well-being common threads amongst beneficiaries.

“In the last 18 months, GUL has seen a rise in the number of young women referred to the charity, particularly from our partners at Youth Action Wiltshire and Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services. GUL provides supported volunteering to these women and others like them offering them a chance to take part in a slow-paced activity in a safe non-judgemental environment.”

He said the £7,300 Tampon Tax grant will help the group attract more volunteer helpers, carry out extra training. “It is a tremendous help to us,” he said.

He said of the young people who come into the charity’s half and full day sessions, 80 per cent go back into full-time education. “They just need a bit of support and somewhere they feel safe,” said Mr Dwyer.

Home-Start South Wiltshire

The charity that tackles isolation and loneliness among young mums in and around Salisbury has been given £6,500 to help step up their work to meet an ever-increasing demand.

Home-Start South Wiltshire provides one-to-one support for families who are very often struggling to care for children without support or who are dealing with mental health issues.

Co-chairman Prue Castle, who has been in the role for a year after five years as a trustee of the charity, said it is seeing its caseload steadily increasing. The grant will enable it to take on more volunteers who will be trained to befriend and support mums.

“The volunteers are trained to look for particular problems and because they are from the area they know where they can get them help. They are there to offer one-to-one support and be a friend,” said Mrs Castle.

Volunteers are matched with families and visit them in their own homes every week. They offer advice and guidance as well as practical help, which could just be help tidying up or tips on cooking, finance or where to take their children. Many of the mums don’t have family nearby and, because many are also new to the area, don’t have friends.

“Being isolated can lead to depression and anxiety. By having the support of someone they trust they can learn to cope better and get the confidence to make friends. This in turn benefits the whole family,” said Mrs Castle.

The charity, which this year marks its 20th anniversary, works closely with health visitors and Spurgeons children’s centres. At present it has around 120 clients on its books. “We are very grateful for this money because it will help us train more volunteers and hep more families,” said Mrs Castle.

Home-Start Kennet

The group that aims to deal with young mums' isolation and loneliness in north Wiltshire has been given £6,500 to help step up their work to meet an ever-increasing demand.

The grant came from the government’s Tampon Tax grants via Wiltshire Community Foundation.

Home-Start Kennet provides one-to-one support for families who are very often struggling to care for children without support or who are dealing with mental health issues.

Scheme manager Tania Rackham said it is seeing its caseload steadily increasing. The grant will enable them to take on more volunteers who will be trained to befriend and support mums.

Volunteers are matched with families and visit them in their own homes every week. They offer advice and guidance as well as practical help, which could just be help tidying up or tips on cooking, finance or where to take their children. Many of the mums don’t have family nearby and, because many are also new to the area, don’t have friends.

“All of our volunteers are parents too and they know the area so they are there listen to them and to give emotional support and help them,” said Mrs Rackham. “The families know that there is someone who will be there every week they can trust and that’s a great ongoing benefit.”

The charity began in Devizes and Marlborough but the increase in demand across the rest of Wiltshire has meant it has had to expand with new volunteers being trained to work in Chippenham and Calne in the next few months.

In 2017/18 the charity’s 30 volunteers worked with 107 families, including 216 children.

Swindon Ten to Eighteen Project (STEP)

The Swindon charity is stepping up its work to educate teenage girls about the dangers of online grooming amid concerns of an increase in those at risk.

Swindon Ten to Eighteen Project (STEP) has been awarded £8,100 from the government’s Tampon Tax grants and it is preparing to use it on a major campaign to show teens how to stay safe online. Already 60 girls aged between 12 and 14 have been identified as having come into contact with or being at risk of online groomers.

STEP is an intervention and mentoring service, based at Nythe Community Centre, that uses group therapy to tackle emotional problems among young people aged ten to 18. Its regular sessions help youngsters to develop confidence and wellbeing. They are referred by schools, health professionals and families themselves.

Project director Johanna Bryant said the new project is in response to the growing number of young girls she feels are at risk. “We wanted to enhance the service for young women because we feel there is a real need,” she said.

“There is a growing number of young girls being referred to us and there is a common theme in that they are socially isolated and live online lives, where they are at risk of being groomed, sexting and bullying.

“Many of these girls feel they are unpopular and they tell us that they would rather be persecuted and humiliated online than not be there at all.”

She said gaming forums, WhatsApp, Facebook and other media are prime locations for predators. “They are very clever and well informed people, they know what to look out for and they know what key words to use to hook these girls in,” she said.

She said victims are just as likely to come from secure, well-off homes as from families with issues. “The problem is that these girls are isolated by technology because their lives are online and they don’t have one-to-one interaction with anyone at home,” said Mrs Bryant.

“They won’t talk to parents or relatives because they think they don’t get it.”

STEP plans to use group sessions and a series of open days to use exercises, case studies and YouTube videos to help an all-female team of staff, volunteers and peer mentors to get the message across.

“It’s about raising self-esteem and confidence and encouraging these groups to work together,” said Mrs Bryant, who began as a volunteer with the charity 19 years ago.

The charity holds group sessions five nights a week and has more than 80 volunteers. The groups use a range of activities including art, drama, sports, games and cooking to entertain and engage the youngsters it works with.

Mrs Bryant said two of the volunteers are former participants and she often sees adults who say their time with the charity benefitted them. “They often say that what we had to say didn’t go in immediately, but it did get there and it stayed with them, that’s quite rewarding,” she said.

Doorway

The homeless charity in Chippenham has been given £5,000 for its women’s group, which provides a safe space for female rough sleepers.

Director Lisa Lewis said the group was launched in 2010 after she noticed that women who came to its twice-weekly drop-in sessions were quieter and less forthcoming than the men.

“I realised that many of them had come from violent relationships or had been in care or had their children taken away by men and they were intimidated,” she said.

The group began with activities designed to build up self-confidence among the women, such as making jewellery and doing other crafts that could be sold to raise funds for the charity. An intended spin-off was the interaction between different generations so that younger women had somewhere to ask advice.

More lately the group has focused on mental health, with yoga sessions and walking groups but it has also offered cooking advice for those who have been given permanent accommodation.

“The great thing is the women open up to our support workers during the activities. They are less likely to do so when asking a question face-to-face but when you are doing something alongside someone it is easy to strike up a conversation,” said Mrs Lewis.

The Tampon Tax grant will fund group activities and pay for staff time. “It’s very much appreciated and we are very grateful,” said Mrs Lewis.

“In a way it’s ironic that we have got the money when we are looking at Period Poverty and trying to raise awareness about the difficulties women who are on the streets face when they have their periods. We have girls stealing tampons because they can’t afford to buy them.”