SWCTS began life in 1988 when a small group of volunteers came together to discuss the idea of a women’s therapy centre. They were concerned about the lack of accessible and affordable therapy services for women in Sheffield, particularly women who had experienced sexual abuse. In 1989 the group was formally established as Sheffield Women’s Counselling and Therapy Service. The volunteers secured a contract with what was then the Sheffield Health Authority to deliver therapy for women abuse survivors, and were able to employ their first staff.
Support from the local authority came in the form of a rented house from which to operate. We are still based in this house which has provided a comfortable and safe space where survivors can share their experiences and find the support they need to move forward.
The quality and value of our services has been recognised by a range of national funders including the Big Lottery Fund, Paul Hamlyn Foundation, Ministry of Justice Victim’s Fund, Comic Relief and Lloyds TSB Foundation. Their grants have enabled us to expand and also to provide services to young women, and to refugees and asylum seekers. Local trusts have also provided valuable support for our work.
Throughout this time we have provided our specialist services for the local health authority (now NHS Sheffield), complementing the services provided by the NHS in the city. SWCTS now forms a key part of mental health services in the city receiving referrals and recommendations from a wide range of agencies.