Shaping a Better Life

Womens’ group given cash boost to help domestic violence victims.

Charity group Shaping Our Lives have been awarded a grant from the Tampon Tax Fund to improve accessibility of violence and abuse services for disabled women in a project called A Refuge for All.

They have partnered with Birmingham and Solihull Women’s Aid, a local leading provider of violence and abuse services, to pilot a range of activities that will enable the service provider to work with Disabled women in an equal and inclusive way.

For the year ending March 2015, the National Crime survey for England and Wales shows that Disabled women are more than twice as likely as women who are not disabled to experience some form of domestic abuse from partners, family members, friends and carers. The abuse they experience lasts longer and their injuries are worse but they are less likely to get the help they need from domestic violence services.

Birmingham and Solihull Women’s Aid are working with national organisation Shaping Our Lives as part of their A Refuge for All project. In Birmingham and Solihull there are some accessible rooms in refuges that can accommodate disabled women, but for disabled women who do not want to leave their home BSWA also offers a comprehensive range of community services.

Staff will get training and advice to help them make all of their services as accessible as possible and to make sure they are reaching out to as many disabled women as they can. Later in 2018, BSWA and Shaping Our Lives will hold a meeting for community services, health professionals and organisations for disabled people so they can share the learning and help build a network to support Disabled women experiencing violence and abuse. This work is being funded by the Tampon Tax.

“There are more opportunities for a perpetrator to abuse or control a disabled woman,” says Becki Meakin, from Shaping Our Lives. “The abuser can withhold essential support such as food, medication or prevent them going out independently.”

One disabled survivor who has worked with Shaping Our Lives said, “I couldn’t do anything when the person came into bed, I couldn’t get out of bed to stop it.”

Nasheima, Assistant Chief Executive of BSWA adds, “We would never turn a disabled woman away from our services but we want to do all we can to ensure that if a disabled woman feels that they need support they will not hesitate to contact us. The training and guidance we will get will really help more disabled women in Birmingham.”

Birmingham and Solihull Women’s Aid runs a free helpline 0808 800 0028 and has a drop in service (please call the above number for local information).Their services are for women of all ages and they provide help for women affected by domestic violence, rape, sexual abuse and women who have experienced forced marriage, honour based violence or female genital mutilation. If you want to support the work of BSWA then they always welcome donations of money or goods. For further information visit