Blackburn domestic abuse charity wins top national award

Blackburn-based charity The Wish Centre has won a major national award for its work improving the lives of people affected by domestic abuse across the Borough of Blackburn with Darwen.

Following a rigorous selection and assessment process, The Wish Centre was chosen from more than 350 charities across the UK as one of the 10 winners of the 2021 GSK IMPACT Awards. The awards are designed to recognise the outstanding work of small and medium sized charities working to improve health and wellbeing in communities across the UK. Winners receive £30,000 in unrestricted funding as well as expert support and leadership development provided by leading health and care charity The King’s Fund.

The Covid-19 pandemic has driven an increase in the number of people who need support from local charities, while also making it harder for charities to deliver services and raise much needed funds.

Despite the pandemic, the Wish Centre has continued to offer a wide range of services to tackle domestic abuse and is often the first point of contact for people experiencing abuse in Blackburn with Darwen. The charity supports and protects women, men, young people and children affected by domestic abuse. It offers specialist services including refuge accommodation, counselling, legal support and a range of therapeutic programmes. In the year up to March 2020, the charity handled 19,380 helpline calls and received 3,292 referrals to its services. The refuge housed 65 women and 85 children, while advocacy and advice services helped 2,156 adults and 330 children and young people.

The charity takes a holistic whole-family approach to tackling domestic abuse, including a prevention programme that works with men who recognise that they have been behaving in an abusive or potentially abusive way. It offers a behavioural change programme delivered by experienced staff, helping men to recognise and better manage their emotions and address their own issues. Last year 321 men were referred to the programme, which has been crucial in breaking cycles of abuse. An evaluation of 29 participants by Lancashire police found that two thirds of men who started the programme did not reoffend, rising to 85% for those who completed all 14 weeks.

The Wish Centre works with people of all ages and backgrounds across the community. This includes programmes for children to help them manage conflict in relationships and recognise signs of abuse, as well as targeted support for children who have witnessed or suffered abuse. The charity employs specialists to help tackle all forms of abuse including ‘honour-based’ abuse, forced marriage and female genital mutilation.

Katie Pinnock, Director of UK Charitable Partnerships at GSK, said:

“The Wish Centre takes a whole-family approach to tackling domestic abuse, not only supporting those affected but also working to rehabilitate abusive partners. The charity supports people who have experienced domestic abuse across the community, with a diverse team who help to identify and support women subject to harmful cultural practices. We were also impressed by the charity’s innovation and ambition, including running pilot schemes with local police forces to better support women who report domestic abuse.”

The 2021 GSK IMPACT Award recognises The Wish Centre’s significant impact in the community and its commitment to preventing and addressing domestic abuse in Blackburn with Darwen. Developing leaders in the charity sector is a key aim of the GSK IMPACT Awards programme and all winners are invited to build on their success and take part in a tailored leadership development programme run by The King’s Fund. The Wish Centre will also be invited to join the GSK IMPACT Awards Network, a UK wide network of over 95 previous award winners who work together to develop leaders, find new ways of working and provide mutual support.

Commenting on the award, Shigufta Khan, Chief Executive Officer of The Wish Centre, said:

“We are honoured to have won this prestigious national award, providing valuable recognition for the staff, trustees and volunteers at The Wish Centre. The financial award of £30,000 is fantastic and will greatly benefit our service users. The development and learning opportunity that is being provided will allow us to learn and grow and we are very pleased to join a network of award winning organisations. Winning this award will make a lasting difference to the services we offer.”

Quick exit