The Independent London Newspaper
24th May 2017

Health News - Charity Women and Health to lose funding as it celebrates birthday

    Hanna Krasnodebeska, Cass Wedd, Deborah Sharp, Liz Rawson

    Published: 24 March, 2011
    by TOM FOOT

    Services for women carers facing axe

    WOMEN and Health was set up in 1986 with the help of Ken Livingstone during his reign as leader of the Greater London Council.

    It followed great strides in the feminist and equal rights movements, when women were beginning to “matter”, according to experts  at the charity’s base in Carol Street, Camden Town.

    It offers a combination of counselling and complementary therapies – such as massage or acupuncture – free to thousands of women who find themselves thrust into stressful caring roles in the home.

    Carers joined staff at the centre earlier this month to mark its 25th birthday.

    But the celebrations were tainted somewhat by an announcement that two programmes – mainly for women carers with disabled children and adults with a mental disability – have had around £35,000 in funding axed by Camden Council. 

    The pioneering projects are expected to come to an end in June when a rent relief agreement, worth around £25,000 each year, is also likely to be withdrawn.

    “While this quarter-century anniversary is a very happy event for us, we also have a bittersweet feeling as the sharp blade of local government cuts has already sliced right into our programmes,” said director Deborah Sharp.

    “These cuts will impact significantly on the quality of life for some of our community’s most needy and most marginalised women and will have knock-on repercussions for their families.”

    The charity organises more than 12,000 individual appointments for Camden women – from all walks of life – along with a range of classes, projects and outreach services.

    Many women who are suddenly thrust into the role of 24-hour carers as their husbands or other family members develop problems that leave them stranded in the home.  They come to rely on Women and Health for much-needed respite. And they often have complex emotional and physical health needs.

    One carer, who did not want to be named, said: “With the stresses of my everyday caring responsibilities, I find it hard to relax and have any time to myself. Having access to these therapies made my life a little easier to cope with.”

    Another of Women and Health’s services – the provision of long-term counselling – will also be wound up this year. 

    A recent report to the Town Hall’s health scrutiny committee found that women in Camden have the second highest suicide rate of all London boroughs. 

    Statistics from GPs also showed that most women had suffered domestic violence, financial problems, bereavement, childhood abuse, or complex psychological and health conditions.

    Sue Berger, Women and Health’s psychological therapies manager, said: “This is particularly true of older women who have often put their own interests aside in caring for others for many years, and need support to acknowledge they are entitled to have a listening and supportive space for themselves.”

    Ms Sharp added: “Camden Council obviously recognises that programmes which successfully address the multi-faceted health needs of its residents must be well-resourced and implemented in partnership with various stakeholders. Yet these budget cuts have come down hard on what the council calls ‘discretionary’ interventions, but what we call ‘preventive’ strategies.” 

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