History of BWA
The History of Bexley Women’s Aid
1975 – present day
1975 – Bexley Women’s Aid was set up by two local nurses concerned about the increasing number of women attending Queen Mary’s Hospital accident and emergency department for treatment of injuries caused by their partners. Bexley Council agreed to donate a property as a safe house for women and children forced to leave their own homes due to experiences of physical, emotional and/or sexual abuse.
1980 – raised funds to convert a garage at one of the properties into a play room for children.
1985 – BWA was granted funding by the GLC women’s committee. With this increased funding, BWA was able to employ workers to provide basic support to the residents as well as part time services in the community for women still living in threatening situations.
1986 – the properties that were being occupied as refuges were due to be demolished as part of the Bexleyheath Broadway redevelopment plan. Consequently, Bexley Council offered BWA three properties for use as refuge accommodation that accommodated eight families at any one time.
1999 – Bexley Council transferred its housing stock to housing associations. As a result of this, the three properties occupied by BWA were sold to London and Quadrant (Bexley) Housing Association.
2000 – As part of BWA’s silver jubilee celebrations in July 2000, the relationship between the two agencies was sealed with the signing of a management agreement. London and Quadrant expressed it would support the development of BWA, in particular increasing refuge accommodation in Bexley for vulnerable women. BWA therefore increased 8 bed spaces to 11 bed spaces. BWA Started to deliver Community Support Groups ‘Women Achieving Together’.
2001 – London and Quadrant agreed to rent a fourth property to BWA. This provided additional accommodation for three more families and enabled the centralisation of BWA’s office facilities. In December, as part of a strategic move to become a hierarchical structure, the Board of Trustees recruited a full time Director who became responsible for the strategic management of the organisation’s refuge and community services. As part of its development strategy BWA began fundraising to recruit a full-time Refuge Coordinator, a full-time Children and Family Support Officer, a full-time Education and Prevention Officer and a part-time Administrative Officer.
2003 – BWA opened a second site for refuge premises and this enable a further 10 bed spaces to increase to 21. BWA started its Education and Prevention service following the success of its “Expect Respect” pilot launched in its 25th year and the Children’s Outreach Services to support children identified needing one to one support in the community. BWA hired a third Supported Housing Officer and a second Children’s Development Officer to support the services at its second site.
2005 – BWA had its 30th Birthday. A new Visual Identity – BWA had changed so dramatically over the decade that the logo no longer reflected the full breadth of our work. Working with communications professionals, we developed a new visual identity that reflected the modern, forward-thinking aspects of our new range of services. Adorned with the strap line ‘Safe homes. Secure relationships’, the new identity professionalised and unified our printed communications and allowed for more cost-effective production of publications in the future. In March, BWA introduced its new Floating Support service for women who are experiencing or have experienced domestic abuse. Our floating support service helps women sustain tenancies after leaving an abusive partner and encourages them to take up new activities. For some women, this means learning to read and write. For others it is a return to college or time spent volunteering to improve employment prospects. The floating support service is flexible enough to meet the needs of all women, regardless of their personal ambitions.
Dec 2005 – Our RealMen campaign received a Holding Abusers Accountable Award from the Mayor of London. The campaign used local men to speak out against domestic abuse with the aim of challenging the attitudes of men in Bexley and preventing future abuse. BWA was one of several recipients of the award, which was presented to mark the International Day of the Elimination of Violence Against Women.
2010 – BWA began to use the Freedom Programme as part of its Outreach services.
2011 – BWA increased bed spaces from 21 to 26 bed spaces.
2012 – BWA secured funding via a commissioning process from the local authority. This enabled us to place a Domestic Abuse Liaison Officer within a Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub at LBB Offices, as part of an early intervention process.
Present day – BWA has been supporting women and children for 40 years! BWA has embraced modern political and funding trends aimed at improving and professionalising domestic abuse support services. It is a proactive organisation that has undergone much strategic change in the past few years to maximum service provisions to its clients as well as strengthen its infra structure and secure a place as a future provider of services to women and children experiencing domestic abuse.