Ladies Lounge is a “women’s-only drop-in” in the centre of Torquay set up to support the most vulnerable women in Torbay in need of emotional support, advice and information.
Specifically targeting those women involved in sex working, street sleeping, suffering with mental health, domestic violence and substance misuse issues. Such women are often both involved in crime and victims of it, trapped in destructive lifestyles and with little or no positive associations, often subject of various types of abuse. Due to the nature of their circumstances it is estimated that many of these crimes often go unreported. We are also trained to help victims of domestic abuse and receive referrals from Torbay Domestic Abuse Service to support these vulnerable women. These women often feel trapped, have low self-esteem and suffer from poor mental health. Ladies lounge is a voluntary run, women only safe space. Volunteers provide a safe environment, engaging with attendees in conversation and signposting them towards specialist service providers and helping them to keep that connection i.e. assisting them in keeping important appointments etc. They meet other vulnerable women, where they talk and share experiences and feel less isolated. The crafting table is set up during every session and women here learn new skills, and the creativity takes their minds away from their struggles. Creativity is known to reduce stress and anxiety.
We have a craft table on both days, this is where you can relax and make beautiful items to take home and enjoy.
We rent the top floor of the Salvation Army building, Market Street, Torquay. If the Salvation Army Community Larder is not in operation (they have the front door open and let us know you have arrived, usually on a Monday), please press the intercom button on the right hand side of the front door, someone will answer the intercom and come down to the door to let you in. There is a lift to the top floor.
Our ladies often come in after suffering from all kinds of emotional struggles, but when they leave us it is very rewarding to see the transformation that has taken place. They leave with their heads held high and the feeling that someone cares and has listened to their troubles even if it is for just a few hours. The image at the top of our webpage illustrates well the difference from them coming in and out of ladies’ lounge.
ROS AND ROGER: THE DRIVING FORCE BEHIND THE LADIES LOUNGE
“Rog and I had the privilege of setting up Torbay Street Pastors in 2007, training volunteers, getting Churches on board, carrying out DBS checks and supplying all 39 (at the time) with uniforms. Our first night on 8th March 2008 was scary and amazing, all 39 of us went on the streets to start with before we passed over at midnight to a team of 4 Street Pastors and a team of Prayer Pastors. We enjoyed 7 wonderful years with 130 volunteers, Street and Prayer Pastors, and as an Ascension Trust Rep., seeing 22 locations throughout Devon and Cornwall set up Street Pastors in their home towns. I stepped down in 2014 thinking that was it! Rog continued as a Trustee and Treasurer until March 2017.
A month or so from leaving Street Pastors I was approached to attend a meeting about supporting vulnerable women, I was so excited thinking I would be a volunteer at last! I attended the meeting to launch a women-only-drop-in centre held by Torbay Safer Communities, with whom I had become very involved whilst running Torbay Street Pastors. The idea of the drop-in was shared, and I asked where all the volunteers were…I was given old fashioned looks by all present and the penny dropped. Here was another project to set up – whoopee!! After finding and training up volunteers we opened our doors on the 26th January 2015 and no one turned up!!! However, this is not the case today and we routinely see over 20 women on both Mondays and Wednesdays, from a range of backgrounds. People ask us if we see success, and yes we have seen our women leave to train and take on paid employment, but to see a smile, hear laughter and see our ladies leave after a session in a much happier frame of mind means the world to us.
Roger and I thought that once we were 60/65 we would retire! However, we now have the privilege of being an integral part of Ladies’ Lounge – Roger is the Charity Trustee/Treasurer and myself a Trustee/Leader. I guess in God’s Kingdom you never retire!!!”