‘It is needed now’ - Town’s new domestic abuse support service to offer ‘holistic’ drop-in centre
- Credit: Kimmi Denise
A Norfolk town is set to welcome a new domestic abuse and drop-in support service, led by women who hope to empower others to “break the cycle”.
The Vera Trust, a community interest company (CIC), has been set up in a bid to help women and children from in and around Thetford, which has one of the highest rates of domestic abuse in the county,
The trust has been founded by former-teacher, Kimmi Denise, who experienced the devastating effects of domestic abuse in her early 20s, and is now leading a team of ten women, with stories like hers, who are determined to help others escape it.
The 29-year-old said: “I was in my early 20s and I faced physical, mental and emotion abuse.
“And I have had to use the services which already exist.
“But these charities are at full capacity and the demand is so huge across Norfolk. I knew opening the trust that we are going to be busy and that is a very sad reality.
“During lockdown ‘domestic abuse’ become a buzzword because of the rise in cases and it filled me with dread for these poor women. “How would you feel if you were locked in a house with an abusive partner?
“That pushed us to get the Vera trust going as soon as we can.”
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Ms Denise hopes to to provide a holistic service designed to empower women, build their self-worth and "break the cycle".
“I have worked in a lot of different vocations which have shown me every time the severity of domestic abuse and the impact that it has,” she added.
“I am a qualified teacher and I have worked with children in behavioural units who were facing severe abuse at home and I have also been a support worker for supported accommodation helping people flee domestic abuse.
“We are planning to open a drop-in centre in Thetford which supports you with housing, safety plans, benefits and we will be offering holistic wellbeing courses, self-awareness courses and really focusing on a positive mindset.
“This is how we differ from other domestic abuse charities in Norfolk.
“I also have two councillors on the board and we want to offer a free counselling service for women and children. That was really important to me and what I think is lacking right now.
“But our long-term goal is to also set up a women’s refuge in Thetford.”
As the pandemic hit, Ms Denise’s plans to get the service up and running were put on hold.
Now the trust is desperately looking for funding to get them going and a building to hold a drop-in centre.
Ms Denise added: “Thetford has one of the highest domestic abuse rates in Norfolk.
“I know how amazing the community is and if we all come together to donate and give support where we can, we can make this a reality very soon because it is needed now.”
The Vera Trust currently has ten directors, aged from 20 to 65-years-old, with a range of qualifications including a mental health nurse, psychotherapist, counsellors, social worker, astrologer and meditation teacher.
Arisha Tagoe-Jaquez, 39, from Red Lodge, is a volunteer who decided to help Kimmi set up the trust, from November last year, after attending her spiritual classes.
She said: “Domestic abuse has reared its ugly head in different stages throughout my life.
“From when I was a child, a teenager, then late 20s. Now I just feel really passionate to help other women because they lose their voice completely, everything is stripped away.
“But this can help them get their happiness back and live normal lives.
“If there was a Vera Trust around when I was going through it, I would have got to this point of self-worth and happiness, a long time ago.”
Beth Dimon, The Vera Trust’s secretary, from Attleborough, added: “Either you have experienced it or you know someone who has. It is such a common issue.
“A woman who is experiencing domestic violence has no self-confidence and just to be able to get them through the doors is such a big deal.
“We have worked so hard to get this up and running and we have faced many hurdles, Covid being the biggest one, all of us women involved are so passionate to get this out and help as many people as possible.”
To donate to the trust visit their gofundme page here.