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Mar 29, 2017   //   by Sally   //   Blog  //  No Comments

I’ve been shook and I’ve been shoved

Been told I’m not good enough to be loved

Cried in corners, wished to die

Believed I deserved it and not sure why

Back and forth, I hope for a change

Leads to more isolation and being deranged

Then comes the day you push too far

You’re not in as much control as you think you are

Through knowledge and wisdom my courage grows

Slowly breaking free right under your nose

No more bruises, no more tears

No more preying upon my fears

For this I promise me, I will survive, I will be free.








Mar 29, 2017   //   by Sally   //   Blog  //  No Comments

We asked some of the women who attend our Freedom Programme how we have helped them.

With thanks to you all for your bravery and support – from all of us….



My nightmare of a controlling relationship started 10 years ago. Prior to marriage, I witnessed the domestic violence and control from my father to mother (I did not know any difference) until I took the courage to leave my husband.”

 This Centre has been a part of my life for the last three and a half years.  I left a Domestic Violence relationship of nearly 10 years and fled to Derby.  At my lowest, with no family and friends close by – I turned to Derby Women’s Centre in my time of need.” 

 If it was not for the ladies and support received from the Centre then in all honesty I can’t see that either myself or my now 8 year old daughter would be here. ”

I feel like they  have built my self-esteem back up, helped me grow more confidence and that has helped me to support my daughter who witnessed a lot at a very young age. 

This Centre saves lives of women and children of all ages and background and without these services a lot of women would continue to suffer under the hands of Domestic Violence. ”


 I thought I was going crazy, depressed, thoughts of self harming (although I’m too pathetic to actually do it).  I thought because I was not actually getting hurt, he’s not violent just horrible, it was normal.  I just wasn’t being a good wife! ”

This programme has made me begin to realise it’s not my fault – it’s not normal.”

it’s amazing to be able to talk to someone else who knows what it’s like to constantly be on edge!  I’m hoping this place will keep going.  I need it to help me feel like a normal person…and begin to  be like me again!

  Attending the Freedom project has made me realise that normality can exist, and there is a way out.  I’m slowly gaining strength and knowledge.” 

I’m considering coping mechanisms, instead of self harm.” 

“I’m able to understand the dynamics my husband plays in our marriage.” 

When he threatens to kill our cats, I find it more tolerable now.  Protecting myself, and our cats, becomes easier, knowing I’m not alone, and that other women are experiencing this, as well.

 The Freedom has helped me so much, it’s helped me be more confident.  When I first came here in September 2015, it was the first time I had left the house properly in weeks.”

I was diagnosed with PTSD and was extremely low.” 

Now I have been coming here almost two years and I’m a completely different person.  I’ve learned so much about myself and how to cope with what I’ve been through.  The women who run the centre are amazing along with the Freedom Programme.” 








WE SAVE LIVES – Fundraising Campaign

Mar 8, 2017   //   by Sally   //   Blog  //  No Comments


When people ask what do we do – the answer can be summed up in three words, it is chillingly simple, without being dramatic.


We help some of the most vulnerable women and their families in our society.  Over the last three years, tragically, four women known to us committed suicide.  They were victims of domestic violence/mental ill-health.  We have to try to make sure this does not happen again.

The Centre’s funding from the Big Lottery is coming to an end this summer.  We have submitted several bids for alternative funding to ensure that the Centre receives long term funding, for at least the next two years, however, nothing is certain.  Therefore, we are launching a fundraising campaign today on International Women’s Day.  Our aim is to raise £35,000 by the end of June this year, to ensure that the Centre’s vital services continue, until we receive the outcome of our funding bids.

We would ask that you give as generously as you can and share our fundraising link below with as many people as you know.

Increasingly, attention is being brought to the devastating effects that domestic violence and mental health problems can have, which are widespread in the UK.

The shocking statistics are that:-

  • 6 out of 100 people (the large majority being women) in 2016 were estimated to be victims of domestic abuse but 79% of those did not contact the police.*


  • every week, one in six adults experiences symptoms of a common mental health problem, such as anxiety or depression, and one in five adults has considered taking their own life at some point**


This year, the Prime Minister Theresa May made comment on both issues:-

“Domestic violence and abuse is a life-shattering and absolutely abhorrent crime.”  “There are thousands of people who are suffering at the hands of abusers – often isolated and unaware of the options and support available to them to end it.”

“For too long mental illness has been something of a hidden injustice in our country, shrouded in a completely unacceptable stigma and dangerously disregarded as a secondary issue to physical health. Yet left unaddressed, it destroys lives”

Derby Women’s Centre helps save lives by providing the knowledge and support for those people who are suffering, we empower them, to move on, break the cycle of domestic abuse, rebuild their lives and their mental health and importantly help them to ensure their children have a better, brighter future. 

On behalf of the 500+ women and their children that we supported this year – THANK YOU.




* Office of National Statistics
**Mental Health Foundation. (2016). Fundamental Facts About Mental Health 2016. Mental Health Foundation: London





We are looking for Volunteer Counsellors

Dec 12, 2016   //   by Sally   //   Blog  //  No Comments

Our counselling service relies solely on volunteer counsellors, many of whom are counselling students. We have also been lucky enough to have some experienced volunteer counsellors, who have been invaluable in helping us to meet the wide range of needs of our counselling clients, and we would love to bring more on board!

We have established an excellent relationship with the University of Derby, the University of Nottingham and the  Sherwood Institute and over the years, we have become a preferred placement provider for their students, many of whom contact us for placements as a result of these links.

We currently have some placement opportunities for new volunteer counsellors and we  would welcome applications. 

If you are currently looking for a placement, please get in touch with Marvet, our Counselling Coordinator, on 01332 341633, to get the ball rolling!

We would also be thrilled to hear from fully qualified and experienced counsellors who would like to volunteer some of their time to work with counselling clients.

NB: Interviews with prospective volunteer counsellors will be arranged with our Counselling Coordinator

A Few Knit and Natter Creations …

Oct 13, 2016   //   by Sally   //   Blog, Derby Women's Centre, Services  //  No Comments

We introduced Knit and Natter sessions a while back, which are held on the first and third Wednesdays of every month (from 10 am to 12 noon).

The ladies who have coming to the group have been enjoying the chance to work on their own personal knitting projects and have a good chat with like minded people while they do. There’s a lot of chat and laughter involved but they’ve also been pretty productive too!

Here are a few of the things that the ladies have been creating over the last few months …

Knit and Natter 1

Knit and Natter 2

Knit and Natter 3

Knit and Natter 4


If anyone else would like to get involved with the group, please feel free!

If you’re not an experienced knitter, don’t let this put you off joining as the ladies will be more than happy to show you the ropes.

How Your Diet Affects Your Mental Health

Oct 13, 2016   //   by Sally   //   Blog, Mental Health  //  No Comments


Lots of things can potentially affect our mental health and one of these is your diet.

There’s a lot of evidence linking mental health to nutrition and it’s now believed that what you eat affects not just how you feel but also how your brain functions.

If you’re experiencing mental health issues or have done in the past, it’s definitely worth looking at your diet and including more of the foods that are good for well being (and cutting out those that aren’t!).

With that in mind, this blog post is all about the strong link between nutrition and mental health.

What to Eat for Better Mental Health

The brain is very sensitive to what we put into our bodies and needs a mix of essential fatty acids, complex carbohydrates, amino acids, vitamins, minerals and water to function at its best.

Generally speaking, our consumption of fresh, nutritious and local produce is decreasing in favour of processed foods that contain lots of fat, sugar, salt and additives. A lot of us don’t eat the recommended 5 portions of fruit and vegetables and less fish. This change in our eating habits can have a detrimental effect on mental health and wellbeing.

Some of the foods that are known to be good for well being and mental health include:

Fatty Acids

The brain contains around 60 per cent fat, and this means that the fats we eat on a day-to-day basis have a direct impact on the structure and make up of the cell membranes in the brain.

In particular, 20 per cent of the brain is made up of essential fatty acids – notably omega-3 and omega-3 fatty acids. Both of these are important and omega-3 fatty acids in particular have been linked to better mental health. Research has suggested that women who consumed higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids have lower levels of depression. Another study found that the symptoms of some depressive disorders go hand in hand with low blood serum levels of omega-3 fatty acids. Studies have linked bipolar disorder to low levels of omega-3 and research has shown some promising results so far for treating patients with this condition, even in those who haven’t been responding to more conventional medications.

You can find omega-3 fatty acids in oily and cold water fish such as salmon, tuna, mackerel and herring. The levels of omega-3 fatty acids needed for affecting mood go far beyond the amount you’d get from eating fish several times per week and supplements would be needed. Speak to your doctor if you feel that you might benefit from taking a relatively high dose of omega-3 fatty acids but it’s not advisable to do this without checking with them first.

We also need some omega-6 fatty acids but these are not as important as omega-3 fatty acids. These tend to promote inflammation whereas omega-3 fatty acids reduce it. It’s therefore vital that you don’t consume more omega-6 fatty acids than omega-3 fatty acids as you’ll encourage inflammation, which can be bad for well being. In the Western world, we tend to fall into this trap and experts think this is one of the reasons why more of us are experiencing mental health issues these days. An imbalance has been linked to depression, poor memory and lack of concentration.



 Vitamins and Minerals

As well as being necessary for overall health, some vitamins and minerals are thought to have an effect on mental health by helping the brain to convert amino acids. Some of the vitamins and minerals that are important for mental health include:

B vitamins

 Lots of B vitamins are good for mental health and well being. Vitamin B1 is needed for the nervous system and helps to improve mood. Vitamin B3 can be used to treat symptoms of anxiety, depression and insomnia. Vitamin B12 is linked to mood. Good sources of B vitamins include liver, turkey, whole grains, potatoes and legumes.




Magnesium helps to keep the nervous system working well. In theory, we should be able to get all of the magnesium that we need from our diet but in reality, many of us are actually deficient in it. Magnesium has a big role to play in a lot of aspects of mental health so any deficiency can be quite significant. Good sources include leafy green vegetables such as kale, spinach and chard, and bananas.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is needed for general health but it is also strongly linked to mood and mental health. Vitamin D deficiency is believed to contribute to low mood and this is quite common during the winter months when our bodies don’t get vitamin D from exposure to sunlight. Good sources of vitamin D are eggs and fatty fish such as salmon.


What Not to Eat for Better Mental Health

On the flip side, these foods are believed to have a negative impact on mental health and well being.


Consuming lots of sugar has been linked to depression and can make schizophrenia worse. It’s thought that sugar suppresses a protein known as Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF), which is key for brain function and the nervous system and tends to be low in people suffering from conditions such as depression and schizophrenia.

A diet rich in sugar doesn’t actually cause anxiety but it can make anxiety symptoms worse and make it harder for the body to cope with stress.  A 2008 study on rats found that sugar binges resulted in anxiety. Cutting out sugar or significantly reducing it won’t “cure” anxiety but there’s good reason to believe it can reduce the intensity of symptoms.


Trans Fats

We’ve talked about the importance of essential fatty acids on brain health but eating a balance of these still may not be enough if you’re also consuming trans fats. These are found in a lot of processed foods, and are of concern from a mental health viewpoint as they effectively replace essential fatty acids in the brain and block nutrients from doing their job.


What Impact Does the Weather Have on Our Moods?

Sep 15, 2016   //   by Sally   //   Blog  //  No Comments


Do you feel happier when the sun comes out and more miserable when it rains?

Most of us do and there’s good reason for this. The weather can have a strong effect on how we feel, both mentally and physically.

In this blog post, we’re looking at the impact that the weather can have on your wellbeing and why this happens.

Does Sunny Weather Really Make Us Feel Better?

Sunlight boosts the levels of serotonin in the brain. This is the body’s “happy hormone”, which is why we tend to feel better in good weather. It can also have the knock on effect of making you feel more inclined to get active and this can lead to “feel good” endorphins being released that also make you feel happier.

Your body produces less melatonin when it’s sunny. This is the hormone that regulates sleep so you’re more likely to feel more energetic in the summer months and more lethargic in the autumn and winter.

In the summer, you’re more likely to be woken by natural light, rather than your alarm clock and this can have an impact on how you feel about the day ahead.

Sunlight is one of our main sources of vitamin D, which is informally known as the “health and happiness” nutrient because of its benefits for health and wellbeing.

Using sun protection makes it more difficult for the body to absorb vitamin D so you’ll need to spend some time in the sun without sunscreen. This isn’t as dangerous as it might sound as we only need up to around 15 minutes of exposure to sunlight to get the vitamin D benefits. Any more than this makes you likely to get sunburnt.

Why Our Mood Can Plummet When It’s Not Sunny

There are quite a few reasons why we feel better when it is sunny so it makes sense that the opposite can be true as well.

Experts think it might be to do with there being less sunlight on a rainy day, which affects serotonin levels in the brain and confuses your body into feeling more sleepy and lethargic. It also “tricks” your body into producing more melatonin, a hormone that is strongly linked to sleep.

Another factor is also related to the lack of sunlight and us not getting enough vitamin D as a result of this.

Exposure to sunlight is one of the main ways that we get vitamin D but when the sun is less strong or sunscreen is being used, this can potentially lead to a deficiency.

A lack of vitamin D has been linked to a range of health conditions and is a trigger for depression too. Studies have shown a strong link between depression and vitamin D deficiency, and an improvement in depression symptoms while taking vitamin D supplements.

For some people, low levels of serotonin in the brain means that winter can actually trigger a form of depression known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).

The symptoms tend to start in the autumn, when the days start to get shorter and the nights draw in. SAD usually gets better and disappear in the spring and summer and return again after this.

Why We Crave Comfort Foods When It’s Colder

When there is not much sun to speak of, low serotonin levels in your brain can lead to cravings for carbs. This is an artificial way for your body to try to boost its serotonin levels but it can leave you feeling worse in the long run.

Temperature can also affect your mood. In colder weather, more of our energy goes towards staying warm and there is less available for other things. This is one reason why we veer towards eating more to provide more energy but this can be counterproductive if it involves foods that take more energy to be digested.

Why We Feel Physically Worse in Bad Weather

Rainy days can actually cause physical discomfort too, while sunny days can provide some degree of pain relief for chronic conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis.

A study from Manchester University involved more than 9000 people who are living with chronic pain, and found that their symptoms fluctuated depending on whether it was sunny or raining.

Over to you – how do you feel the weather affects your mental health and wellbeing? Do you also feel a physical effect when the seasons change?



Where to Get Benefits Advice

Sep 8, 2016   //   by Sally   //   Blog  //  No Comments

As you may know, we changed the focus of our debt and benefits advice service a while back and it is now solely for survivors of domestic abuse (to help them to get back on their feet financially).

This means that we can’t offer generic debt and benefits advice at Derby Women’s Centre but if we receive any enquiries about this, we will signpost them to other organisations who are better placed to help and support.

One of these is the Citizens Advice, who have a lot of information about things like benefits entitlements and making the most of low income. The Benefits section of their website is a great place to get information that may be relevant for your situation so it’s worth checking this out first.


Loneliness and Health

Aug 17, 2016   //   by Sally   //   Blog, Mental Health  //  No Comments


Many of us will experience loneliness from time to time but for some people, this can be much more permanent. Chronic loneliness can be detrimental for both mental and physical health but is often not widely acknowledged. In this blog post, we’re looking at what causes loneliness and the impact that it can have on everyday life.

What is Loneliness?

Loneliness is a state of mind, although it is not a mental health condition as such.

Being alone and being lonely are not necessarily the same thing, although they are often confused. Loneliness can be a lot more complex than this. Some people are perfectly content with their own company and don’t actually feel lonely despite the lack of social interaction, while others feel lonely even though they have lots of people around them.

Loneliness can be caused by not having much or any social contact with other people but it can also stem from a lack of meaningful and true connections, even when surrounded by friends, family and acquaintances.

Symptoms of Loneliness

If you are experiencing some of these symptoms, you may be lonely:

  • Feeling sad about a lack of social connections in your life

  • Feeling resentful or bitter towards people who do have strong, meaningful social connections in their life

  • Trying to mask true feelings of loneliness by doing things such as working more, exercising more, trying to stay as busy as possible to fill your time

  • Not having strong friendships, even if you have a lot of acquaintances and people that you would call friends

Why Does Loneliness Happen?

Experts believe that our family background and social interaction in our early life set the scene for the degree of social connection that we feel comfortable with. These varying degrees of “sensitivity” to loneliness and explain why the triggers are different from person to person.

If the level of social connection that we “expect” isn’t met, it can mimic feelings of being physically threatened and affect physical and mental health.

Loneliness can be triggered by life events such as moving home, taking a new job, becoming unemployed, bereavement, relationship breakdown, the arrival of a new baby and seeing adult children fly the nest. These changes can lead to the breakdown of existing social connections. A strong focus on work also means many people prioritise this over social relationships.

The Health Effects of Loneliness

Loneliness can trigger a number of physical and emotional symptoms, including:

  • Physical aches and pains; headaches, and worsening of existing health conditions

  • Low energy levels; lethargy and lack of motivation

  • Sleep problems including not able to get off to sleep, not being able to stay asleep and oversleeping

  • Appetite loss, weight loss and weight gain

These type of physical symptoms happen because of the body’s response to feeling lonely. Experts have suggested that loneliness encourages the brain to go into self preservation mode and makes the body react by producing the stress hormone, cortisol, to prepare for the “threat” (i.e. loneliness).

This is known as the “fight or flight” response, which is a big factor in triggering anxiety symptoms. As well as encouraging the production of adrenaline and stress hormones, it is also believed to encourage the production of white blood cells while also decreasing antiviral proteins so that the body is less able to fight off infections.

Research has shown that people who are chronically lonely have much higher levels of the stress hormone, cortisol, which is thought to encourage inflammation to build up in the body.

This is one of the main reasons why chronic loneliness has been linked with a range of health problems and is now known to also encourage sleep deprivation and negatively affect the cardiovascular system.

In fact, experts now believe that being lonely most or all of the time can have the same health effects as being a smoker or being obese– even if you do not actually smoke and are not overweight.

Studies have shown that chronic loneliness significantly increases the chance of early death by up to 45 per cent, and increases cognitive decline in older people by as much as 20 per cent for people who are chronically lonely.

Loneliness and Its Impact on Mental Health

Loneliness isn’t actually a mental health condition in itself but social isolation and chronic loneliness can evoke feelings of depression, anxiety and other mental health conditions.

This can become a catch 22 situation in which you are even less inclined to get involved in social situations because of depression or anxiety, which means that you become even more lonely.

At its most extreme, this can lead to:

  • Feeling encouraged to smoke, drink and/or use drugs and medications to cope

  • Feeling hopeless, worthless and/or suicidal

How to Tackle Loneliness

It’s important to understand that loneliness can be overcome and it doesn’t need to be a permanent state of mind.

Many people who are lonely bury their feelings, which can make the situation worse. The first step is therefore to realise that loneliness is actually a natural response to having a lack of meaningful connections in your life and is no different to depression, anxiety and other mental health conditions in this respect. This can avoid the urge to fill the void by engaging in unhealthy behaviours such as overworking, overeating and alcohol or substance misuse.

Meeting new people: Having more social interaction with people is one of the key ways to start counteracting chronic loneliness. This can be through things like classes, groups and volunteering. Learning a new skill is a low pressure way to do this. Joining a group can bring a sense of belonging due to shared interests and experiences.

Getting a pet: Pets are thought to reduce stress levels and provide companionship. Beyond this, they can also open up social opportunities, such as being able to interact with other dog walkers.

Counselling and other therapies: Getting out there can be a good first step but it won’t always be enough by itself. Counselling can help to deal with loneliness on a deeper level, and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) can be used to change your attitude and behaviour, which may be long held if you’ve been experiencing loneliness for a while. This can help you to alter how you see yourself and others so that you experience less loneliness in the future.

We’re Looking for Volunteer Counsellors!

Jul 27, 2016   //   by Sally   //   Blog, Derby Women's Centre, Mental Health, Services  //  No Comments

As you probably know, our counselling service relies solely on volunteer counsellors, many of whom are second or third year counselling students completing placements as part of their studies. We have also been lucky enough to have some experienced volunteer counsellors, who have been invaluable in helping us to meet the wide range of needs of our counselling clients, and we would love to bring more on board!

We have established an excellent relationship with the University of Derby, the University of Nottingham and the  Sherwood Institute and over the years, we have become a preferred placement provider for their students, many of whom contact us for placements as a result of these links.

We currently have some placement opportunities for new volunteer counsellors and welcome applications from second or third year counselling students who are studying for a university counselling degree or diploma, on level 4 counselling training.

If you are currently looking for a placement, please get in touch with Marvet, our Counselling Coordinator, on 01332 341633, to get the ball rolling!

We would also be thrilled to hear from fully qualified and experienced counsellors who would like to volunteer some of their time to work with counselling clients.

NB: Interviews with prospective volunteer counsellors will be arranged with our Counselling Coordinator.




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