Spotlight on Community Grant Partner: The Pathway Project

14 December 2021

The Pathway Project is a charity that helps victims of domestic and sexual abuse and has received funding from Smallwood through our Community Grant Partnership programme. We asked Pathway how this funding has impacted their work.

Could you please introduce yourself and the Pathway Project?
I’m Jackie Hughes, manager of the two refuges that the Pathway Project runs in Tamworth and Lichfield in Staffordshire. Pathway was founded over 20 years ago by Kathy Coe MBE who is, herself, a survivor of domestic abuse. Kathy decided to help other survivors by first setting up a helpline from her home which later led to renting a property in Tamworth that she turned into a refuge. The Lichfield refuge was made available 5 years later.

Pathway take women and their children and single women who are not safe in their own home. The rooms in our refuges come with bunk beds and a pull-out sofa bed and they are equipped with a hob, a microwave, a small fridge freezer and a TV. We’ve got a lovely big garden where women can sit while the children play and we also have a communal lounge. We also offer laundry facilities to wash and dry their clothes.

Everyone that comes into the refuge has a support worker and we have staff present around the clock in case of emergencies. We also have a counselor, a finance worker, a mental health worker and we offer 1-to-1 emotional support. There are support groups on what to look for if you go into another relationship, and self-confidence and self-esteem building. We can look after 20 families overall but are full most of the time and we often have to turn referrals away.

We run after school clubs for the children and have a children’s worker in the community who comes in and does a little youth club for them. We are looking to do more activities such as horse therapy and trips to the pantomime so we try to offer the whole package.

We also have an Outreach programme in the community for survivors that are safe enough to stay in their own home but who might need support in getting their property more secure or help with legal or emotional support. We have an outreach worker that goes into schools where children are living with domestic violence everyday.

What attracted the Pathways Project to the Community Grant Programme?
The flexibility in what we can use the individual grants for was so appealing to us. The enormity of the support is amazing and it takes such a pressure off the women knowing that they can use the grants for a variety of things such as driving lessons, and paying off small debts.

How did the individual grants complement Pathway Project’s vision and what you want to achieve?
The idea of refuge is to give women and families the space to regroup, heal as much as possible and understand that it’s ok to be independent because a lot of them have had their independence taken away from them. The funding gives everyone hope for the future and confidence that we have something that we can help to move these women forwards.

It takes a lot of courage for someone to leave a nice home and come into a refuge. Also, a lot of people think that domestic violence only happens to families living on the poverty line but whilst I’ve worked in domestic violence I've seen a lot of people who are more economically stable come here. We have had one woman who was quite affluent in the community but she’s brought her daughter here as she couldn’t stand the abuse anymore. If she decides to separate from her partner, then they've got to look to share the property’s equity and the local authorities and housing associations won’t take her in as she has too much in savings. So we are helping with the legal side and assuring her that she will get rehoused. Domestic violence doesn’t discriminate and neither do we.

Where do you see the grants having the most impact with your service users?
Everyone comes to us with different needs, even more so when they have to move on so that’s where the grants are a great asset to have because we can give them a start in their new life. We’ve used it for things like driving lessons for a young lady who moved here and was almost ready for her driving test but lacked a lot of confidence. It was a real boost for her.

Storage is another big thing that we’ve used it for as, previously, we wouldn’t have been able to help with that at all. A lot of women have moved out of their homes and some have quite a few things like beds and wardrobes that they know they’d like to move into a new property.

Financial abuse is very much a part of the package that comes with these women too. Some of them have never had a bank account and so we have been able to help with opening them. This has had a positive impact on their children’s self-confidence and self-esteem at school as they can have clean clothes and they aren’t being picked on anymore.

I always have compassion for the older children because we get some that are used to their own rooms and devices but are now having to share a room with their mum. On the flip side, they see a huge weight lifted off their mum and they get her back again which means a lot more to them than having their own room and TV.

It’s also hard if someone has been in refuge for seven or eight months and then they have to move into a new property. They get very lonely straight away as they are used to walking around here, seeing people and making friends. So knowing they will have new carpet, a cooker, beds and fridge freezer for their new place takes away some of the pressure of that second move. Overall, the funding has been so successful for the women and children, and our organisation. I can’t thank Smallwood enough.

If someone wanted to support the Pathways Project, what is the best way to do so?
We have a website and a Just Giving page on there and we are on Facebook where we put out appeals for things we may need.

For more information on the Pathway Project please visit: https://www.pathway-project.co.uk/