The art of creating mosaic

New WE Heal fund to support women and girls in Islington

Today (Tuesday 29 November) - as part of the UN’s 16 days of activism against violence against women and girls (VAWG) - Islington Council launches a new fund for art-based therapy as a response to violence. 

Women Empowered Heal (WE Heal) is a new women’s arts, health and wellbeing fund, to improve the mental, emotional and physical well-being of women and girls in Islington who have experienced violence. 

Eligible organisations working with women and girls will be able to apply for funding to develop and create participatory arts initiatives, projects or workshops.  

These sessions will promote recovery from their own lived experiences of violence and support them to repair and recover from the abuse they have experienced. 

The WE Heal fund is tailored towards healing through therapeutic arts-based activity created in safe spaces. Further details on the scheme, including on how to apply, can be found on the website.  

Islington Council’s VAWG Strategy, released one year ago, states “mental health support is the highest support need requested by survivors of VAWG in Islington. Most survivors who disclosed mental health support needs have also disclosed multiple disadvantages and additional support needs around homelessness and substance use”. 

Since the strategy began in November 2021, 1,593 survivors of abuse have been supported by VAWG services. Of these, 79% of survivors supported by council services stated that they feel safer than they did before engaging with VAWG services. Additionally, 126 survivors have been supported by VAWG counselling services. 

One of the survivors of abuse who have been helped by one of the council’s VAWG commissioned services said “There are no words to express how I’m feeling. I’ve been through so many professionals and tried to explain what has been happening to me; consultants, psychiatrists, doctors, and yet nothing. There was still no support for me. You’ve actually listened and never judged. I’ve always felt judged in my life. You’ve done an excellent job.” 

Cllr John Woolf, Executive Member for Community Safety, and Cllr Roulin Khondoker, Executive Member for Equalities, Culture, and Inclusion said in a joint statement “We stand with our communities against all forms of violence against women and girls in Islington. This arts-based fund can help survivors of abuse heal, as well as allowing them to express themselves creatively and help others. 

“The added emotional and financial strain of winter and Christmas – especially this year with the cost-of-living crisis – means very sadly, there may be an increase in the number of instances of domestic abuse in Islington. But abuse can be difficult to identify, even when you’re the one experiencing it. We want all survivors to know that our council VAWG services can help, and that any perpetrators of violence can also seek help to change their behaviour.” 

Anyone can use our discreet webpages to find help and support

The council is expanding the Safe Haven scheme, which lets people know when a place of refuge is nearby. The council also signposts victims to support services and promotes the Hate Crime Pledge for businesses and individuals. Islington Council works closely with partners at Forum+ and Islington’s Hate Crime Forum to collectively seek to encourage more reporting, raise awareness, support victims, and stamp out hate crime. 

The council achieved DAHA accreditation status in December 2021, which means that crucially all the frontline concierge and housing staff are trained to spot the signs of domestic abuse. You can watch one of our concierge team talk about what the accreditation means on YouTube.  

Notes to editors

  • WE Heal is a cross borough initiative and a collaborative effort between the council’s VAWG services and the council’s Arts and Culture team 
  • To date, contributions from the following wards has been confirmed by the respective councillors: Clerkenwell - £50k; Bunhill - £15k; Holloway - £5k; Arsenal - £5k; St. Mary’s & St. James - £2.5k; Mildmay - £2.5k; Tufnell Park- £2.5k; Hillrise - £500. Therefore, the total grant fund currently stands at £83k. More funding from other wards will continue to be added to the pot.   
  • The council launched its VAWG Strategy in 2021.
  • Solace Women’s Aid provide specialist mental health support.

Contact information

If you are a member of the public with a general question about the council please view the contact information on our website or call 020 7527 2000.