The country may still be in partial lockdown, but there is a feeling of resilience and hope as more milestones are reached at Time to Change (West Cumbria) Project CIC. As for everyone, Covid -19 has created challenges for Rachel Holliday and her team, but they will ride this storm, just as they have overcome many obstacles along the way.
It is seven years since Rachel Holliday set this up to tackle poverty, disadvantage, and homelessness in the area. Having experienced being homeless in her teens and in a downward spiral with no money, education or hope, she realised on her road to recovery that making a difference to other people in the same boat was what she wanted to do. There is no doubt that this has been achieved and much more! She is marking another anniversary this week – the opening of Women Out West one year ago. WOW supports all women in West Cumbria to flourish, and focuses specifically on those affected by domestic abuse.
Rachel said “We can’t fix all local problems but working with inspiring people who have a similar vision to me has enabled us to make a real difference to hundreds of lives. It has proved what we can do when we step up as a powerful community to help those in need and enable better lives and brighter futures. I am blessed to work with the most passionate people, and I am excited about the future and what we can achieve together.”
To make places like Calderwood House and Women Out West “happen” you need help of people who go the extra mile. The list is long, and Rachel will be talking about this in more detail in a separate interview. The first turning point was when a “home” was found for Calderwood House, which was to be a homeless hostel with priority for veterans. Rachel didn’t have a penny to fund it and no one to be legally responsible. Jo Booth (who is still on the board today) agreed to take on the legal responsibility, and Chris Batten enabled the award of a £15K grant from Francis C Scott Trust which allowed Rachel to leave her job and focus on the project full time.
Emma Williamson has been involved since the early days, and shares Rachel’s drive and determination. Emma-Jayne Gooch, Chief of Staff to CEO at Sellafield has also been a constant supporter and was on the board for many years. She said “Calderwood House, its staff and its residents are an inspiration. The team don’t just change lives they save them. I didn’t think Rachel and TTC could possibly make any more impact on our community, then came WOW. I was completely naive to the challenges some of our women in our community face. For these ladies and many more having somewhere safe to go to develop and build confidence is so important. I am so proud to support TTC and will continue to do so”.
Trudy Harrison worked hard with the Ministry of Justice to ensure the funds were available to pay for the WOW build and has supported Rachel’s work in parliament. “Rachel and her dedicated team is stronger than ever. I’ve been able to see up close the work that goes on, helping people when they need it most and seen the transformational effects. I wish everyone all the very best for many more years of success and look forward to being able to visit again soon”.
So what have been the key milestones in the last seven years? “The day we opened Calderwood House; winning Cumbrian Woman of the Year; making the National Nat West SE 100 list; the launch of Calderwood Coffee and working with Martin Chown to sell it on site; the launch of Women Out West; meeting the royals with wonderful Keith Duck; being given a special award by Peter McCall who has always supported us in our projects; and perhaps most of all seeing my awesome team pull together during the challenges of Coronavirus! We may not be able to work as we did, but we are finding our way through this. Together we overcome these hurdles and keep the people we care for at the heart of what we do.”
A special note: More than two hundred people have benefited from the support of Calderwood House, and most have moved on to a better life. One such resident was army veteran Wayne Hardisty who had moved on to happier times, and to be closer to his family. Sadly, Wayne passed away this month at the age of 41 after a seizure. He was brave enough to talk about his life experience at the Calderwood House Party at Energus two years ago in front of over 300 people, saying “To end up in Calderwood House you know something has gone wrong in your life, but believe me there is no better place to go when you are down on your luck.” There is a fundraising campaign to raise money to pay for Wayne’s funeral.
Contact Kate Wilson on firstname.lastname@example.org for further information