The last two years have been difficult, and this is perhaps truer for anyone who has been through trauma. Figures from ONS (Office of National Statistics), show there were almost 800,000 cases of domestic abuse recorded from March 2020 to March 2021. Disturbingly, this statistic increased during the pandemic, and accounts for 18% of offences recorded by the police. Organisations like Womankind are tackling the problem head on and are offering much-needed support to help survivors of sexual violence and domestic abuse turn their life around.

This makes International Women’s Day (IWD) 2022 a particularly special one, as it’s the first time many women can come together again to celebrate each other’s achievements and share their own life experiences. This year’s hashtag for IWD is #BreakTheBias, and we’ve spoken to Womankind – a tenant at Ethical Property’s centre Brunswick Court – to find out what IWD and #BreakTheBias means for them.

Womankind is a Bristol based charity that supports women experiencing mental health problems in Bristol and the surrounding area with professional counselling, group psychotherapy, befriending, and a helpline service.

Kyra Bond, CEO of Womankind, explains what this year’s hashtag of #BreakTheBias means for them as an organisation, what they have planned for International Women’s Day, and how Ethical Property has helped them grow as an organisation:

As a charity for women, that pioneers for a better future for women and girls, International Women’s Day is incredibly important to us. It celebrates the achievements of women around the world, but also presents an opportunity to raise awareness of gender equality, lobby for change and #breakthebias to create a better future for women. We were recently part of an event at Bristol City Hall, where we ran a stall with volunteers and hosted a practical and trauma informed workshop offering skills for supporting women around difficult experiences. The event provided great insight - what coping mechanisms can be used to handle and move on from trauma, and how these brilliant women can change their life after the hardship they have faced. It was an opportunity for the women of Bristol to make their voices heard, and challenge those bias perceptions they have encountered as a woman who have gone through traumatic experiences.  

This year’s hashtag of #BreakTheBias is an important one, as it highlights the ongoing need to raise awareness of the challenges and discrimination we still face as women, getting our voice heard and influencing policy action.

The task of achieving gender parity and celebrating women’s achievements is not a new one – 79% of the women we helped said they felt less isolated as a result of using our services - demonstrating why the need for local women’s networks and women-led support groups cannot be understated. We have been operating since 1986 and the demand for our services from our organisation has only grown with time – last year we helped over 400 women face-to-face and nearly 5,300 through our helpline.

We moved to Brunswick Court in 2001, with hopes of working alongside other organisations which share our passion and drive to make a difference and improve lives. Our landlord shares our values too, such as an emphasis on community and making positive social change in the world, and supports us to grow and accomplish something great.

It is hard to comprehend what some of the amazing women we work with have been through – the trauma, the hardship, and the insecurity. It is absolutely essential the women we work with consider Womankind as their safe space, and a ‘home from home’. Ethical Property completely understands why this is important for us and the women we support. They have helped us to establish a women only space within the centre, and we operate there with other women-focused charities and organisations. This is particularly important as there are other organisations in Brunswick Court that do very worthwhile work, but we need to ensure those safe spaces we provide are protected – for the sake of the women. It’s efforts like this that shows Ethical Property understands the nuances of making a space truly accessibly.

During our tenancy Ethical Property has helped ensure we got one of the larger office rooms and even divided it into two spaces to allow us to have two separate clinical spaces to see more clients. This has proven particularly important during the pandemic as we have seen a significant increase in demand for our services during this time. The increase in demand is just another reason why International Women’s Day 2022 is a special one – it’s the first time many women are getting to come together to celebrate each other in a long time, and it’s been difficult for many of us.

Ethical Property prides itself on providing safe spaces for organisations that want to make society a better place and bring together like-minded organisations to provoke change. We’ve all been able to knowledge share, which has helped us all improve our offering.  For example, we have received IT support from another tenant at Brunswick Court which was essential as we transitioned to online working during the pandemic. We’ve also been able to pull together as a centre to share resources and invest in mutually beneficial equipment – we’ve both received and given away several bits of office furniture over the years. This is the kind of environment we want to work in, it supports our values and everything we want to achieve.