Before Birmingham and Solihull Women’s Aid (BSWA), there was no provision for women and children escaping domestic violence in the area. In the late 1970s, a group of women created a squat in an empty building and made this space available to women fleeing abuse. Although this refuge was not official, local housing workers and police referred women and their children there.
In 1980, our first official refuge opened in the south of the city. In the early days, BSWA ran as a collective but by the end of the 1980s, it had developed a management structure and secured funding for paid staff, although volunteers have always been key to delivering our services.
Almost 40 years on, we are now the leading provider of services for women and children affected by violence in the West Midlands. We work across Birmingham and Solihull, offering tailored practical and emotional support through a broad range of services.
We work with women and children affected by abuse in all its forms, be it domestic violence, sexual violence, child sexual abuse, honour-based violence, female genital mutilation, gang association, forced marriage or abuse in young people’s relationships.
We also provide specialist training to professionals around violence against women and children and deliver awareness raising work around positive relationships in schools and other education settings.
Over the years we have built close partnerships with agencies such as housing and the police to ensure the best outcomes for women and their children.
We now have two gorgeous charity shops in Shirley and Boldmere raising vital funds to support our work.
BSWA has always taken a broad approach to violence against women issues, acknowledging the breadth of oppression and abuse experienced by women. Over the years, we have received funding for projects supporting women and young girls around forced marriage, female genital mutilation and gang violence. We continue to provide specialist support services in these areas.