Judith House Women’s Refuge
Anjie Taylor, Qdos Creates’ Artistic Director, has been working with residents at Judith House in Barnsley since March 2009, delivering weekly workshops and holiday projects for women and families at risk from domestic violence. Some attend sessions for up to a year, others for a couple of weeks. The group changes on a weekly basis depending on the length of the clients’ stay.
Each session aims to give the women the opportunity for creative outlet to provide a release from day-to-day problems by inspiring and energising them. Activities include yoga-based exercises, creative and contemporary dance and movement, drama, vocal warm-ups, singing and relaxation techniques.
The sessions aim to improve mental and physical health and well-being, unlock creative potential, raise aspirations and increase personal motivation. Tensions caused by communal living and complex personal and social circumstances are diffused and a strong sense of group and individual identity is promoted and nurtured.
Many of the women have experienced long-term benefits to both their mental and physical health and well-being. Those attending sessions over several months have experienced raised levels of confidence, self-esteem and energy.
The women share their work with the directors and staff team of Judith House, and show great confidence, passion and energy. Some of them have created a DVD for the English Churches Housing Group, which has helped to develop their confidence and improve focus. The women really enjoyed the experience and feel a great sense of satisfaction and achievement.
Family sessions are delivered during the school holidays and all women and their children are invited to participate. These are usually thematic, exploring ideas such as ‘seaside’, ‘Halloween’, ‘circus’ and ‘springtime.’
Here is some feedback from participants. Names are anonymous.
“You could exhibit your thoughts and feelings without being embarrassed because others were doing the same but in a different way”
“I enjoy the session more and more I come. It just gets better and better. I’m going to be walking out dancing”
“It makes me want to take a career in performing arts”
“Because I have worked on my own it’s given me a lot more confidence. I’ve expressed myself a lot more than I did when I was in a group because I was too shy and now I’ve got the confidence to lead the group”
“It’s the last session for me and I’m feeling quite upset as I won’t be here any more as I’m moving. I’m going to miss the sessions, they have built my confidence up so much”
Qdos Creates are committed to a long-term programme of work at Judith House over the next two years and are looking forward to developing the partnership with Judith House staff and residents further. Kathryn Downs, fundraiser for The Refuge Support Group, and Anjie Taylor have raised funding for the work to continue from a variety of sources including The Refuge Support Group, Primary Care Trust, Forge Arts For Health, Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council and Social Investment Business Fund.
“Working with the women at Judith House has been a pleasure. Their creative contributions to the sessions have been a rewarding and fulfilling experience further enhanced by their appreciation of the work. I look forward to future projects with them.”
Anjie Taylor, Artistic Director, Qdos Creates
> Judith House Women’s Refuge