SWINDON Women’s Aid have launched a new six-week programme which is designed to help victims of domestic abuse achieve their life goals and improve their self-confidence and financial independence.

Weekly sessions include exploring aspirations and career options, practical sessions like CV writing and hearing from female speakers.

The programme can provide work experience placements if required and help with accessing childcare. Women receive one-to-one mentor support for up to 12 months after it ends.

Katie took part in Route 66 and now owns her own business. She said:“It has changed my life. With the support of my mentor Sara I’ve learnt it’s okay to ask for help. It was scary to begin with but the programme has built up my confidence. Now I’ve got my own business and I’m providing for my family. It feels like a new start.”

North Swindon MP and minister for families, supported housing and child maintenance Justin Tomlinson met staff at the Swindon refuge.

He said: “This government is determined to ensure those who have experienced domestic abuse feel safe and supported, both to seek help and to rebuild their lives.”

Olwen Kelly, director of Swindon Women’s Aid said: “Justin was pleased to hear about the progress we have made in developing the programme, which has the potential to make a long-lasting, positive impact in the lives of the women we are supporting.”

The Department for Work and Pensions has a range of help available for people fleeing a situation of abuse, including offering special provisions for housing support, moving benefit claims to alternative jobcentre locations and signposting people to expert support.

In addition, the department is developing its specialised work coach training with input from stakeholders, including Women’s Aid, in order to improve identification and referral processes for victims.