Facemask sales fuel progress for key Stanley charity.

A STANLEY charity which empowers women has sold 6,000 facemasks to raise money for a new extension.

Just for Women runs therapeutic workshops and counselling for women facing domestic abuse, poor mental health and financial worries. While the centre has been closed, the team of staff and volunteers have managed to send 3,200 hampers to people in care homes, keep their counselling services running, and deliver activity, craft and care packs to families in the town.

Founder Linda Kirk said: “When the pandemic hit we sat down and thought ‘what else can we do?’ and making and selling facemasks came to mind. We have nearly raised enough money now to build an annex on the centre so we can run workshops for an additional 10 women.

“We’ve kept really busy right the way through and now we’re working hard to get the centre reopened so that women can get out of the house again and we can make sure they are really okay.”

Facemask sales fuel progress

Debbie Ramm, who joined the team in 2017, has made the masks, which have sold like hot cakes around the country.

Linda added: “Debbie came to us through the job centre and has a real creative flare and made some beautiful home accessories to sell in our shop. We were fortunate to be able to give her paid employment and she has been a valuable member of our team. Debbie has made over 6,000 face masks and still her machine is churning out more. Debbie is a real diamond and has come up with some lovely designs, even some with a little bling.”

The centre works with around 600 women each year, but a further 200 have come forward as a direct result of the pandemic.

Growing need

Linda added: “We’ve been getting out into the community and as a result we’ve met a lot of new people who need our help. We’ve been speaking to more older women, some of whom have been experiencing domestic abuse for decades, and now they are a carer for their partner.”

The team were awarded almost £4,000 by County Durham Community Foundation to prepare the centre for reopening with plastic screens, fogging, handwash and additional cleaning rotas. The charity also received just under £12,000 from the ground-breaking Stanley Fund last year to support their adult learning workshops.

Linda said: “The Foundation have been brilliant. We would not be here if it weren’t for them. Everything we have wanted to do, they have supported.”

Chief executive of the Foundation, Michelle Cooper said: “Just for Women is an incredible organisation driven by an incredible team. Like so many of the groups we have been able to support, they have focused on what can be done, not on what can’t. To sell thousands of face masks proves that good funding helps entrepreuneurial spirit to grow, which is good for everybody.”