Curious about where the money saved with an ethical bank ends up? We invite you to follow the money saved with us to the charities and social enterprises that make use of our loans. Welcome to the wonderful work of EVA Women's Aid and First Stop Darlington...
EVA Women's Aid
On our Follow the Money tour in the North East this year, our first stop was EVA Women's Aid, a charity which supports women and their families in Teeside, who are, or have been, victims of domestic or sexual abuse and violence
Richinda Taylor, chief executive of EVA Women's Aid is always ready to turn up the megaphone when it comes to promoting EVA's work. "I'll stand and talk about EVA for as long as people will stand and listen," she told her audience on the Follow the Money tour. What drives her is quite simply the life-changing impact EVA has on women's lives.
EVA's team supports women of all ages to escape and recover from abusive relationships. Their activities range from awareness-raising to care and support. They are there when women need them most. The team help people to retrieve belongings, hide from perpetrators, and even smuggle women between different refuges when they are followed by the partners they leave behind.
A former resident at an EVA refuge, told us how she had fled from physical and mental abuse. As she spoke openly about being pursued, hiding with EVA's help and finally finding a safe place to build a future, her audience listened in complete silence. “I can't live my life looking over my shoulder,” she told us, displaying the sort of courage and human potential that you don't see every day.
"Someone has to stand up and talk about the work EVA does," she told me after her talk, explaining how she had also appeared on BBC Radio 4's Woman's Hour. Her story brought home just how important it is that people learn to recognise signs of domestic violence and know that places like EVA exist.
EVA Women's Aid hit the headlines earlier this year after it opened the first safe house in the UK for women over 45 with the help of a loan from Charity Bank. At the new women’s refuge, older women are invited into a safe, comfortable home and supported to recover. Anthea Broome the new case-worker at the safehouse, is pictured here talking to a lady who was helped by EVA in a time of great need. At 72, having escaped from an abusive relationship that lasted 49 years, she has been able to turn her life around, has a new circle of friends, a job and enjoys yoga.
First Stop Darlington
Our second port of call in the North East was First Stop Darlington, a first stop for people facing homelessness. At First Stop we saw the huge challenges around funding emergency support for people without a home, learned about the stigma surrounding people facing homelessness and the real need for a hand up not a hand out.
“Things happen to people and change the course of their lives, we’re here to help them get back on track.”Tracy Freeman, chief executive, First Stop Darlington
People can be unforgiving when it comes to homelessness. "Often, when people struggle to reclaim their lives after living on the streets, it comes down to some sort of trauma at a young age," Tracy explained. "As individuals we cope with trauma in different ways, some of us take control and look forward, some don't and fall into crisis. Things can happen to people which change the course of their lives, we’re here to help them get back on track.”
The welfare state will catch people when they find themselves without the support of family or a job. But “it doesn't facilitate good parenting” Tracy emphasized. “In the looked-after system, young people often learn that if they shout loud enough they get what they want. People can walk through the door here and we will offer our support, standing by them shoulder-to shoulder. But we don’t simply give people what they ask for. We’re here to teach people to take responsibility for themselves.”
Tracy spoke about the joys and heartache of social impact measurement. Charting the progress of individuals and reporting on First Stop’s work is both useful and vital to securing funding, she explained. But it throws up some serious questions. She left us with one to ponder: “Sometimes one person’s smile means more than you can possibly imagine – how do you measure a smile?"
Look out for the forthcoming photo diaries documenting the Follow the Money tours, which will be published over the next few weeks. Follow the money is our series of events, inviting you to follow the money saved with us to the charities and social enterprises that make use of our loans. It's an opportunity for people to learn about the diverse issues we face as a society and ways that banking for good can help to fund solutions.
If you'd like to attend a future Follow the Money tour, you can follow us on Twitter @CharityBank or sign up to our e-newsletter below to make sure you don't miss it.