Ladies that have been involved in sex working. Ladies that are sleeping on the street. Ladies that have poor mental health, domestic violence or substance misuse issues. Vulnerable ladies, ladies that are in need of support, friendship, advice, or just a cup of tea…. they are all welcome here.
They are all welcomed, and they’re welcomed by ladies that are warm. Ladies that do not judge, are life-experienced and prepared and willing to listen.
Torbay Ladies Lounge was set up in 2014 by Ros who, to the detriment of her possible retirement (I hope she won’t mind me saying, is now 72) took on the project after working with her husband Roger on Torbay Street Pastors for 10 years. When she attended a meeting about the possible venture of a drop-in centre in the town, little did she know that she’d be leaving as its founder, and working hard for and with its volunteers over four years later.
Centre stage at most of the Ladies Lounge meetings is a craft table. Craft, they say, helps the women to relax and stimulates conversation. As well as finding companionship with other ladies attending the centre, the act of crafting helps reduce stress and anxiety, and leaves them with something tangible, beautiful and homemade to take home.
For anyone who’s not in the creative mood, there is the opportunity to just sit and chat with no pressure. Volunteers are there to lend a supportive ear as well as provide advice and information, and as in a recent case we discovered, to even give out food from the freezer to take home, when one of its groups number was under threat of going hungry.
Volunteers Shirley & Sylvia at work in the centre kitchen, one of the ladies makes comments about the day's session in the feedback book, homemade wall art made at a crafting session, TLL founder and manager Ros
As well as giving some structure and something to look forward to each woman’s week, Torbay Ladies Lounge are keen to encourage them to think about the future too.
"We encourage ladies to share their dreams and to ultimately help them to achieve them."
They help them work towards volunteering and training to build the confidence and self-esteem that may eventually lead to employment and a more satisfying lifestyle.
"People ask us if we see success, and yes, we have seen our women leave to train and take on paid employment, but to see a smile, hear laughter and see our ladies leave after a session in a much happier frame of mind means the world to us. Our vision is to see these ladies free from fear, anxiety and stress and able to enjoy their lives."
DCF have supported Torbay Ladies Lounge with grants since 2015, with most recent funding being given from The Chief Constable's Foundation and the Tampon Tax Community Fund.
To find out more about Torbay Ladies Lounge visit their website here.
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