The Anawim Project
Anawim is a project that supports vulnerable women, working from its centre in Balsall Heath, Birmingham. A project of the English Province of Our Lady of Charity and Father Hudson’s Society operating in collaboration, the work grew from the initiative of two sisters of Our Lady of Charity to befriend and support women involved in prostitution in the Balsall Heath area. With the support of Father Hudson’s Society the two sisters began outreach on the streets in 1986, initially offering welcome and support in their own home. As the numbers of women grew and the scope of the work increased the project secured use of a nearby building, the Anawim Centre. The Centre, refurbished in 2002, has developed into a facility that offers a wide range of support to many hundreds of women and their children every year.
Women are referred to Anawim by other agencies including the Probation Service, the police, Social and Health Services and housing providers, and many refer themselves. Following an initial assessment each woman is allocated a caseworker and together they will develop an action plan to address the woman’s particular needs. Anawim’s approach is holistic, individually tailored and designed to last for as long as it takes for the women to change her life for the better.
Alternatives to Custody
Anawim works with partners, including Government, and has been closely involved in initiatives to reduce women’s offending and re-offending, particularly by offering alternatives to custody. After many years of working with the Probation Service, Anawim was one of the projects chosen by the Ministry of Justice in 2009 to offer the Specified Activity Requirement for women offenders with multiple and complex needs who would otherwise have been sentenced to imprisonment. Anawim continues, with the Probation Service, to provide this alternative, alongside the option of unpaid work, and outcomes to date have been very encouraging.
Anawim now employs around twenty staff members supported by a team of committed volunteers. Case workers are divided into teams: Criminal Justice, Outreach, Mental Health and Family Services who cater to the needs of specific client groups.
The Management Committee, along with senior representatives of the Founding Partners and other interested parties, meets four times a year. The Sisters of OLC are fully committed to involvement in the governance and financial accountability of Anawim and continue to have one Sister working full time in the Project as well as other Sisters as volunteers. Father Hudson’s Society provides line management, general management services and financial support.
Anawim works with a number of other agencies to provide services to the women on site. Financial advice, drug and alcohol services and counselling are all offered at the Centre. The Centre also offers a wide variety of courses, ranging from those focussed on self-help and confidence, creative arts and therapeutic workshops to academic and accredited courses designed to move the women towards employment.
The Centre operates crèche staffed with professional childcare workers. The Family Service offers the women advice and support with all aspects of parenting including child development, nutrition and school attendance, and workers undertake home visits to help women to take advantage of facilities in their own areas. In the crèche children engage in creative play and other stimulating activities and are taken on outings to local places of interest to increase their opportunities and widen their horizons.
The Outreach Team supports women in prison, in the community, including those living in hostels, and women working on the streets. The team undertakes night outreach once per week to offer help and support to women who are on the streets at night.
The Mental Health Team was developed to meet the needs of the many women who come to Anawim with untreated or undertreated mental health problems. Women can now be referred to Anawim on court orders with a requirement to attend the Centre for mental health support.
Anawim constantly seeks to improve both in terms of the services it provides and the facilities it offers. In 2007 Anawim and the Catholic Parish of St John and Martin’s, where the building is based worked together to establish a new building to use as a training room. This new building opened in April 2008, now in 2012 we have outgrown that and as we only have planning permission on the portacabins for another 18 months or so we need to work on a major building project. We are working on applications to create a flagship building which will suit the needs of the project and our partners for years to come. We have exciting plans drafted.
In addition to ongoing funding provided by the English Province of Our Lady of Charity Anawim relies on large funders such as Comic Relief, who have funded the Link Support worker for 3 years, the Henry Smith Charity who have funded the Manager’s salary for 3 years, the J. Paul Getty Foundation who have funded part of the Centre Co-ordinator salary for 3 years, the Lankelly Chase Foundation who have funded the Children & Family worker salary for 3 years and NOMS ( National Offender Management Services) who have funded the Outreach worker post for 3 years, and the Tudor Trust who funded the Women’s Development Programme for two years .Without this longer term funding Anawim would not be able to carry out its work .Between 2008-9 all of these grants will end and new funding will be required for Anawim to continue its services . In June 2009 the Ministry of Justice awarded a large grant to capacitybuild the Centre into a full ,women’s services’ “one stop shop”.
These grant makers have made possible the growth of Anawim. There is no guarantee that any of them will continue indefinitely.
In addition to on-going funding provided by the English Province of Our Lady of Charity Anawim relies on large funders such as the BIG Lottery, who have funded the outreach and prison team, the Henry Smith Charity who have funded the Service Manager’s salary for 3 years, the Tudor Trust who have funded the Centre manager salary for 3 years, Children in Need have funded the Children & Family worker salary for 3 years and two crèche workers, NOMS ( National Offender Management Services) have funded the criminal justice work and alternatives to custody, this has moved over to the Probation Trust. Without this longer term funding Anawim would not be able to carry out its work. These grant makers have made possible the growth of Anawim. There is no guarantee that any of them will continue indefinitely.
Donated goods are always most welcome. The women especially value donations of clothes, underwear and shampoos, cosmetics etc. for themselves and baby/children’s equipment and clothes for their children. If you can arrange transport, donations of furniture are very helpful, since the women often try to set up home as they work to stabilise their and their families’ lives.
Contact Project Manager on: 0796 188220 Centre or Service Manager: 0121 440 5296
228 Mary Street