Hughes, Deborah and Deery, Ruth (2005) Calderdale women's centre evaluation project. Project Report. School of Human and Health Sciences, Huddersfield, UK. (Unpublished)

Women’s Centres are an important legacy from the feminist movement of the 1970s.
During the years before the Conservative election victory in 1979, the political and
fiscal climate, particularly at local government level, enabled the establishment of
women’s centres (or well-women centres) in many UK towns and cities. During the
1980s, funding for these centres became increasingly difficult to attain or maintain
and, by the end of that decade, many had closed or reduced their capacity to a bare
minimum of mainly voluntary services.
Calderdale Women’s Centre (CWC) grew directly from the Calderdale Well-Woman’s
Centre, which was based in Harrison House on Harrison Road and had survived the
adverse climate for such centres to still be providing mainly volunteer and healthrelated
services into the new millennium. CWC has developed and expanded its
services during a period when few other surviving centres have been able to do so,
mainly as a result of assiduous and forward-thinking funding applications and
partnership working, particularly with health, local authority and law enforcement
agencies. In 2004 – 2005, the Centre received funding from 15 separate sources,
the amounts ranging from £5,000 per year from Calderdale Teenage Pregnancy
Strategy to £986,000 over 5 years from the New Opportunities Fund (NOF).
In 2003, the Centre moved into larger premises in the centre of Halifax after securing
the grant from the NOF, and at the same time, the number and range of employed
personnel was increased. Volunteer workers (of which there were 54 during
2004/05) add a great deal of value to the work of the Centre overall, and play a key
role in some CWC services, notably the Drop-in and the Counselling Service.
Calderdale Women’s Centre is thought to be the largest women’s centre in the UK at
the present time.
The Centre provides a range of services, most of which are linked to its specific short
or medium term funding arrangements with various agencies. Current services focus
on counselling services, learning and skills and a broad and complex range of support
for women and children experiencing domestic violence. There is also a non-specific
daily drop-in, free pregnancy testing, a crèche to support Centre activities, and
outreach activity in both the St. John’s area and Todmorden. A busy Advice and
Guidance Service closed due to the end of its funding contract in June 2005.
Activity in all service areas is subject to the ebb and flow of funding and many paid
posts are part-time and short-term. Nonetheless, there is a relatively constant
availability of support for women in Calderdale in Halifax town centre during the
working week. As a result, there is a huge throughput of users: there were at least
8,000 usages of the Centre by women and children in 2004-2005 (figures based on
CWC Annual Report 2004-2005). As will be seen later in this report, some usage is
short-term and/or light whilst other women use the services intensively and/or over
longer periods of time.


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