Joanna Heavans gives details of a week of events dedicated to the founder of Swindon Women’s Aid, Jenni Manners.
Starting a women’s refuge in the town was Jenni’s response to her own experience of domestic violence which in turn inspired her to help others by providing a safe house for women and their families to flee.
The first refuge was opened on 25th August 1975 at what is now the car park next to HSBC in Old Town before moving to Cranmore Avenue in 1980.
Originally the Council provided Swindon Women’s Aid with two houses which were later internally renovated to provide one large house. It could accommodate 25 families who shared bathrooms and kitchens.
Families would never be turned away and there were many times that a family would wake up to find another family had been moved in overnight and were in sleeping bags on the floor.
In 2012 the Refuge moved once again to a purpose built complex and now is home to 22 families. A playroom with children’s workers along with a support team and Community Outreach team are also based at the Refuge.
Since 1975 several thousands of victims and children have been helped to safety in Swindon through our Refuge, 24 hour helpline and Community Outreach services. In turn, awareness of this pervasive crime increased public attention and the stigma of being a victim has been reduced.
Sadly, Jenni Manners died on the 25 August 2012, and to pay tribute to her and our work over the last 40 years, we are celebrating with a week of events.
On Saturday 22 August there will be a Summer Ball at the Village Resort, Shaw Ridge. There will be a band and disco along with a 3 course meal. Doors open 7.30pm with tickets available at £40 per person from www.swindonwomensaid.org
On Monday 24th August at 12.00 will be the launch of ‘Domestic Violence – An Artists Perspective’ at North Swindon Library until Saturday 29th August. This will be a show case of artists, photographers and poets work relating to domestic violence and the transition from victim to survivor of domestic violence and abuse, for which entry is free.
On the 25th August we are holding a Survivors Day where former residents of the Refuge will come together to reflect and celebrate. A plaque will be unveiled to commemorate Jenni Manners which has been donated by Highworth Lions.
On Saturday 29th August we will be holding a Family Fun Day and Picnic at Lydiard Park.