By Ben Egginton
A Warwickshire social enterprise has celebrated five years of improving the lives of vulnerable women this week.
Cohort 4 provides peer support for female survivors of abuse, ex-offenders, and sufferers of mental health issues in North Warwickshire.
Over 15 women regularly attend the organisation’s weekly lunch club, with many more participating in various other groups held throughout the week.
— Cohort 4 (@Cohort4Women) February 18, 2019
The founding director of the non-profit organisation, Beverley Gilbert, said: ‘I think we’re doing something very unique.
‘We’ve tipped managerial structures on their head so that our women can determine what they need rather than being told what they need to do.’
Celebrations to mark the anniversary, held at St Benedict’s Church Hall in Atherstone on Monday, included food, speeches, the presentation of awards and a general get together.
The High Sheriff of Warwickshire, Clare Sawdon, was also in attendance to thank staff for their hard work and praise service users for their determination and bravery.
And the feedback was positive all round.
One service user said: ‘I love being in the group.
‘I can just be me, and that’s nice.
‘I feel part of something.’
Another added: ‘I was a mess. I was scared. I had no one. I genuinely felt worthless; not good enough for anyone.
‘Cohort 4 changed my life in so many ways. I feel safe. How good is that!’
A 2016 study revealed over a million women in England have experienced physical and sexual abuse.
Many experience disadvantages such as homelessness, addictions, imprisonment or experience mental health conditions.