Children and young people from West Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, who have been affected by domestic abuse will be given specialist support thanks to a grant from the Freemasons to the West Cornwall Women’s Aid (WCWA) charity.

The £54,000 grant will provide vital support to children up the age of 18, helping them to recover from the impact of domestic abuse. WCWA provides a range of specialist services that focus on empowering children to regain their confidence, self-esteem and emotional wellbeing, while strengthening their understanding and knowledge of domestic abuse.

One-to-one sessions with a WCWA worker will ensure each child’s support can be tailored to meet their individual needs. Additionally, group activities and therapeutic work, such as workshops and holiday activities, will be available to help to increase emotional resilience, social skills, and their mental and physical wellbeing. Activities such as art club, horse-riding and trips to local beaches can give children and young people the opportunity to make new friends, learn new skills, and talk to others with similar experiences and to build their confidence in a safe environment.

The charity works with both children in the local community and those who have fled domestic abuse and arrived at WCWA’s refuge, often after travelling hundreds of miles to escape their abuser. Once they leave the refuge, the reality of having to start over in a new town can be daunting: they are often far away from old friends, extended family, school and familiar places.WCWA provides support tailored to the family to help children feel safe and to settle into their new home, school and community.

Last year there were over 21,000 incidents of domestic abuse in West Cornwall and Devon. Witnessing and experiencing domestic abuse, often over the course of several years, takes a huge toll on a child’s mental health, wellbeing, education, and relationships. Feelings of anger, guilt, powerlessness, isolation, loneliness, fear, and confusion are common.

This project will see around 60 children and their families being supported to feel safer and to develop positive coping strategies that reduce the impact of domestic abuse on their lives going forwards.

The grant from Cornwall Freemasons comes through the Masonic Charitable Foundation, which is funded by Freemasons, their families and friends, from across England and Wales.

Sam Fitzpatrick, Development Manager at West Cornwall Women’s Aid, said:

“We’re very grateful to Cornwall Freemasons from their generous grant, which will allow us to support more families on their journey to living a life free from the impact of domestic abuse and sexual violence. The project will see children with someone to lean on for practical support and guidance, giving them the best chance of recovering from the trauma of domestic abuse and going on to thrive.”

Mike Pritchard from Cornwall Freemasons, said:

“I’m very pleased we’ve been able to help Cornwall Women’s Aid with their hugely important project supporting children and young people who have been affected by domestic abuse. Giving them the help they need to overcome their trauma can, quite literally, be life-changing.”