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Women at the Centre

Women at the Centre describes the innovative work of WomenCentre, an organisation in West Yorkshire that has been achieving positive outcomes for women and families for over twenty-five years.

  • Protecting women and children from violence and abuse
  • Keeping women out of prison and reducing reoffending rates to a minimum
  • Improving mental and physical health - tackling the root causes of illness
  • Safeguarding families - spotting risk and preventing the abuse of children
  • Supporting women to take control and escape lives of poverty, dependency and crime
  • Saving the taxpayer millions of pounds by preventing, crime, prison, illness and institutional care

These achievements are rooted in a dynamic and sophisticated methodology. Combining personalisation and collective action, WomenCentre works with the whole of the local community - including women with the severest needs. No one is excluded and no one is left behind.

The women who work with WomenCentre give vivid testimony to its success - built on real women-to-women relationships. The research data supports their testimony.

The positive impact of WomenCentre is dramatic; but so is the difficulty it faces in building on this success. The wider welfare system seems immune to innovation and is challenged by its achievements:

  • WomenCentre receives just a tiny fraction of the funding recieved by statutory services
  • Funding is piecemeal and short-term, but monitoring is onerous and unbalanced 
  • Local leaders want to help, but are bound by centrally imposed cuts and bureaucracy
  • In 2011 now WomenCentre faces a 41% reduction in funding

The book offers insight into the reality behind the hollow rhetoric of the Big Society and Localism. The welfare system is elitist and is increasingly centralised. Women and families are not supported effectively because central government has no faith in them and in their capacity for change; and it has no faith in local communities to bring about the necessary positive changes. 

But they are mistaken and WomenCentre shows us that the path out of our current crisis does exist - but we must follow its lead and put women and children at the centre of our thinking. 

The publisher of Women at the Centre is The Centre for Welfare Reform, in association with The Foundation for Families.

If you want an electronic copy for the purposes of publishing a review of Women at the Centre then please contact The Centre for Welfare Reform.

The authors of Women at the Centre are:

Dr Simon Duffy, founder of The Centre for Welfare Reform and inventor of Individual Budgets and Self-Directed Support.

Clare Hyde MBE, ex-CEO of WomenCentre and founder of The Foundation for Families.