The women behind the Water Lily Project are passionate about supporting and empowering vulnerable women in the Christchurch area to lead independent lives again.

Founded in 2011 to help women affected by mental health issues, domestic violence and abuse, addiction, the sex trade, financial difficulty or homelessness, Water Lily Project takes referrals from GPs, the police, the Community Mental Health Team, local churches and word of mouth. It’s currently helping 70 women – a huge increase from 17 women on the books two years ago.

The vibrant Water Lily Café is a social hub - offering a diverse range of community projects like its new book club, Books, Brews and Reviews, intergenerational project Chatterbox and a Friday lunch for homeless people.

One of its great success stories is Dionne, who survived domestic abuse and is now launching a happiness course with her sister and studying for a degree.

Project Manager Liz Carter says CAN has been instrumental in the project’s development. “CAN’s staff recruitment training was amazing. It’s helped us transform our advertisements, application forms and interview processes. I was new to this sector and your help with volunteer co-ordinator training was invaluable,” said Liz, who is also grateful for CAN volunteer referrals.

She says it’s important to identify volunteers’ talents and the support they can offer at a very difficult time in a woman’s life.

Volunteers like Megan, a domestic abuse survivor who was supported by Water Lily and is now a one to one mentor at the Project

“Water Lily helped me put my life back together. I’ve even gained the confidence to do my Community Mental Health Level 2 course and I want to do Level 3,” said Megan.

“When I first came here all those years ago it was vital to know there were people who understood and didn’t judge me because my self-esteem was rock bottom; they gave me another chance.”

For more visit: waterlilyproject.org.uk/ or call Liz on 07743 719063