International Women's Day - Women Out West

Headshot of Hilary Stephenson

Managing Director

2 minute read

To mark International Women’s Day this year, we wanted to share a little on an organisation we’ve been supporting in recent weeks.

Women Out West

To mark International Women’s Day this year, we wanted to share a little on an organisation we’ve been supporting in recent weeks. We are often driven by problems we see in society, and this has largely shaped the sectors we focus on and the client relationships built over the years. We are also fortunate that people will sometimes refer those clients our way, where they can see we have experience of working groups in a vulnerable situation or at risk of social exclusion. We also have the enviable position of being able to choose when and where to help. None of us were quite prepared for the story shared by the small but mighty organisation Women Out West (WOW) just after Christmas, which galvanised our research and design team into action and finding ways to help.

WOW is a Women Centre based in Kells, Whitehaven run by a Time to Change (West Cumbria) Project Community Interest Company. WOW help any women who have experienced domestic abuse that are based in West Cumbria. As an organisation, they are fully accessible to their community. They refer to their “clients”, as their “amazing ladies”. The dedication shown across the WOW team, from the top of the organisation to their very own volunteer befriender truly is inspirational. Most of their amazing ladies are from disadvantaged backgrounds and have experienced horrific trauma & abuse multiple times in their lives.

Given the pressures on the organisation to support as many women as they can, and unravel the complexities around referrals, mental health, isolation, trust and confidence, we wanted to help them take a step back; to map the services, networks, case management and communication as it happens now. WOW initially had a specific solution in mind, but we were able to work with them and explore multiple ideas after a series of workshops.

Rachel Holliday, Founder and CEO said:

“After such a terrible loss, we were overwhelmed that Nexer reached out to us and offered us their free help. At WOW we know so many of our women live alone and are vulnerable. We really wanted to find a way to use technology so no-one is ever truly alone again, but we just didn’t know where to start. Mar, Katy, Amy, and Hilary have been fantastic. By working with us to map out how WOW works, we have been able to learn so much! It has been fascinating to watch the steps we have gone through to hopefully design something that could save lives in the future.”

The output from this will hopefully be useful in its own right, for future funding bids, hiring, local partnerships, and for volunteers seeking to understand how things work at WOW. Ultimately though, they are looking for answers to problems, so that the sad loss of Natalie and Harry leads to some help, and hope, for others. We are working on some concepts now, in partnership with the WOW team, some of which are digitally-enabled, some of which build on the excellent support and networks already in place. We will report back, with them, on what that looks like but for now, on this day we wanted to give them a massive signal boost. If you can read about, share or donate to their excellent work, please do. If you have ideas on candidate technologies, service partnerships or support models for vulnerable people in the situations WOW focus on, please get in touch, so more of us can help to raise them up.


Three images show work by Women Out West. A woman gives a talk, a board shows information and a cosy room with chairs