A NEW charity that helps women and children rebuild their lives after suffering or being exposed to domestic abuse has been launched in Worcestershire.

The SupportWorks Foundation – believed to be the first organisation of its kind in the UK – also runs programmes to educate professionals about domestic abuse and teach teenagers about healthy relationships.

The charity has evolved from a self-help group founded in 2010. Its members were made up solely of women survivors of domestic abuse who had completed a series of recovery programmes and who wanted to raise funds for other women to access similar services in the county.

Three members have been delivering their recovery programmes to survivors on an expenses-only basis since March last year and the launch of the new charity is to raise awareness of their work and attract funding for it to continue and develop.

Weekly sessions are currently being held at four children’s centres around Worcestershire – one group has 424 years of abuse and 50 children between them.

Founder Kay Clarke spoke at the launch, and said: “All our survivors know what it feels to be hopeless, helpless and powerless. Not so today. Today we call ourselves the butterflies as the butterfly is thought by many to be the symbol of the human soul. This charity launch is an extension of our expression of freedom and we want to show what kinds of things are possible when butterflies spread their wings and when a community takes ownership of a problem.

“We have become much more than a self-help group. We have evolved almost silently to become the charity that we are today. A charity whose work is informed and directed by the lived experience of survivors – brave, talented, courageous women whose passion is prevention in all its forms."

Since the formation of the self-help group more than 1,000 survivors of domestic abuse and professionals working with them have attended recovery and educational programmes.

The positive impact these have had was outlined at the launch in personal accounts from survivors, their family members, police officers and other professionals who have first-hand experience of taking part in the programmes delivered by SupportWorks Foundation

The audience heard that not only does the work of the Foundation save lives it also has the potential to save the state hundreds of thousands of pounds in health, police, legal, social and education services not accessed if domestic abuse and the consequences of it are avoided.

Patron of SupportWorks Foundation and local JP Mrs Tricia Bradbury urged the representatives of public and private sector organisations at the launch – including the police force, social services and local authorities – to recognise the important work being done by the charity and provide financial support.

To find out more and to make a donation visit supportworksfoundation.org.uk, which is due to go live on Thursday, July 24.