A WOMEN’S centre in Whitehaven is preparing for the future with new plans designed to cater for the needs of today and tomorrow.

According to planning documents, Women Out West has applied to extend permission for a longer-term stay at its current Kells site for a further five years.

Women Out West (WOW) is one of three women’s centres in the county. They work closely with Women’s Community Matters in Barrow and Gateway for Women in Carlisle, each of whom play a vital role in supporting women in the county.

Following the establishment of WOW in 2017, Whitehaven was identified as a suitable location for a centre to serve Copeland and Allerdale, and an initial proposal to renovate a property on Howgill Street was progressed.

The original plans combined the facilities needed by WOW with additional space used as B&B accommodation, to provide a secondary source of income. However, despite a push for funding, it proved too costly to proceed.

It was at this stage, with the need of the services established and in order to retain funding already secured from the Ministry of Justice, that temporary approval was granted for a pilot scheme, at the Haig Enterprise Park on Kells.

Opened in June 2019, the facility has proved to be an important one for the region but the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic meant that WOW has not been able to fulfill the full extent of its pilot objectives, nor obtain sufficient funding for any permanent facility.

In its latest plans, WOW stated that the extension to the term of its operations will enable it to “implement all of the original pilot objectives, maintain its ability to deliver services in the area and enable additional funding to be secured, during the long-term financial recovery period that is likely to follow the pandemic”.

The organisation expects its services will increase, resulting in them “outgrowing their current location, as has happened at their Barrow facility”.

WOW also confirmed that at this point a larger property, similar in size to the original Howgill Street premises, would become viable.

It stated: “With a larger scheme occupying the whole of any property, it is hoped that funding will be more forthcoming and the layout more successful for the sensitive nature of the services provided.”

Find out more at womenoutwest.co.uk