West Hampstead Women's Centre (WHWC) was set up in 1984 by four local women to meet the specific needs of isolated and marginalised women in the Kilburn and West Hampstead wards of the London Borough of Camden and beyond. Since then the Centre has grown from strength to strength providing women with support, information, social groups, classes and volunteering opportunities. Working in the heart of the community, we aim to improve the lives of the women who use our services, offering a safe and supportive women-only space and services and activities aimed at building confidence and helping women to progress in their lives. Advocacy, Intervention and support is at the heart of our work. We also provide culturally specific groups for Asian, Somali and Irish women who face multiple problems and disadvantages as well as classes, workshops, surgeries and events.
The history of the Centre is one of striking diversity of work supported by local women, many of them refugees, working for their communities as volunteers. The Centre’s way of working has been to start with requests from women reflecting their needs and then to develop activities and services. Volunteers are also absolutely vital to the smooth running of the organisation and provide valuable input in all areas of development.
WHWC aims to improve the quality of the lives of the women who use our services. We welcome women from diverse communities and cultural backgrounds, and aim to support all women regardless of cultural and economic backgrounds, beliefs, ability, sexual orientation or age. We do this by offering activities and services that support women at a practical as well as an emotional level. We are committed to policies which actively combat prejudice and to building an all-inclusive and harmonious society and aim to develop both self respect and mutual respect among women. Our ethos is to look at women holistically encompassing mind, body and soul.
West Hampstead Women’s Centre is the only generic women’s centre in the area and is a charity and a company limited by guarantee, managed by a Board of Trustees/ Directors, and in 2018 had a staff team of 2 full-time, 5 part-time, supported by 13 sessional workers and 50 dedicated volunteers. We currently have an annual turnover of £230,000 and are primarily funded through Camden Council and the Big Lottery, with additional funds from various Trusts and Charities as well as self-generated income.
In the next three years we will continue to provide activities and services that reflect the needs and goals of women using the Centre. However, we are now stand at an important stage in our existence, because of a rapidly changing external environment including changes to welfare benefits, and cuts in public services and funding where demand for our services is continuously increasing, stretching our current staff resources.
As a result we anticipate that we will rely more and more on our volunteers’ contribution and are therefore developing our volunteer programme.