OWLS (Ongoing Women’s Local Support)
OWLS is a peer support group run by a group of dedicated volunteers offering help and support to women that have or are going through domestic abuse. The group was set up by three women that met in a local refuge and thought that support was still needed once they had left.
In March 2016, the group were successful in securing their first grant from the Stockport Homes’ Community Fund, which helped them to establish a weekly coffee morning. Since that initial grassroots funding, OWLS has grown extensively to become a busy hub supporting hundreds of women and children who have experienced domestic abuse.
In response to feedback from the group’s participants, in 2019 OWLS secured funding to deliver ‘The Freedom Programme’, which examines the role of attitudes and beliefs in the actions of abusive men and the responses of victims and survivors. The programme aims to help victims make sense of, and understand, what has happened to them. The programme also explains in detail how children are affected by being exposed to this kind of abuse and very importantly how their lives are improved when the abuse is removed. The programme is now delivered in OWL’s onsite training room. So far, 108 women have participated in the programme.
Following a successful application to the Stockport Local Fund, OWLS were able to open a hub where they offer coffee mornings, confidence building training, their peer mentoring and freedom programmes and provide a drop-in session for advice on a range of issues affecting women experiencing domestic abuse. OWLS are also a founder member of the ‘Orange Umbrella’ campaign, raising awareness of domestic abuse in Stockport.
In 2021, OWLS applied to the SKylight Community Fund for a grant to enable them to improve their case management software. The new software has made a difference by improving the group’s ability to manage and keep case notes in one place, more accessible when needed for meetings and managing the 30 plus referrals we receive each month.
Claire, the Chair of OWLS joined the Community Fund Customer Panel in November 2021, bringing her experience of applying for funding and running a successful community group.
In 2022, Claire was awarded an MBE in the Queen's Jubilee Birthday Honours List for services to victims of domestic abuse in Stockport.