Vulnerable women in Carlisle will be supported by new centre
A new women's centre has opened in Carlisle to provide vital services not currently available in north Cumbria.
Gateway 4 Women will support domestic violence victims, those undergoing drug and alcohol rehabilitation, people with mental health problems and other vulnerable groups.
The project has been set up by Cumbria Gateway and is based at the former Mitchell Dryers premises in Denton Holme.
Allison Taylor, chief officer at Cumbria Gateway, said the idea came about after she met a woman who had recently been released from prison and was keen to turn her life around.
But she had found that, although some cities have dedicated women's facilities, there was nowhere in Carlisle to support her.
That sparked an idea, so when the premises at Denton Holme became available Mrs Taylor was keen to make the most of it.
She said Gateway 4 Women will help people to learn new skills, get the support they need and tackle social deprivation.
"We want it to be a one-stop shop for women. We want it to be a very educational and therapeutic place," she explained.
"For example, we have received funding to set up an accredited nail salon so women can learn new skills and build confidence.
"It is not just younger women. We also have older women who have lost their husbands coming in to do knitting and crochet. It's for everyone."
The centre was officially opened by the Mayor of Carlisle, Trish Vasey, who cut the bright pink ribbon at a ceremony yesterday.
She said: "Gateway 4 Women is bringing a range of services together under one roof. It's absolutely brilliant and wish it every success.
"I want to help raise its profile so that women who feel isolated know there is a place they can come to in Carlisle."
She added that once it is established, she'd like to see similar facilities rolled in other parts of the county.
Denton Holme councillor Hugh McDevitt, who was among those at the opening, said he was "over the moon" to see it open in his ward.
"It's a facility that will be well used. It's really needed and will benefit a lot of people who otherwise may not get the support they need.
"It's wonderful that it's in Denton Holme, but it will also reach out to the whole of Carlisle," he said.
Also attending was Peter McCall, Cumbria's Police and Crime Commissioner.
He said: "Gateway 4 Women will provide support for vulnerable women. Anything that gives people the confidence to rebuild their lives and realise they do not need to be a victim is a great thing. We've seen it in Barrow with Women's Community Matters.
"The really good thing is that it's run by motivated volunteers who get together and make things happen, not wait for someone else to do it for them. Community works when you get people who are prepared to get stuck in. I will be looking to support it in some way in future."
Gateway 4 Women is a subsidiary of Cumbria Gateway, which is a social enterprise.
The project has already had some funding support from the Cumbria Community Foundation.
It is situated on Lorne Street and is open to all women.