Case Study: Alana House by PACT

Offering remote support for women facing disadvantage and complex needs

£74,000 awarded in 2020-21
235 online counselling sessions for beneficiaries
20 food parcels a month for women experiencing food poverty
150 women helped between April 2020 and March 2021

Between 2020-2021, BCF awarded £74,000 to Alana House, helping it to get through the pandemic and offer remote support to women.

Founded in 2010 and run by Parents and Children Together (PACT), Alana House provides a safe, non-judgmental, female-only environment to support women in disadvantaged or vulnerable situations, as well as those involved in the criminal justice system.

Providing holistic support, it helps women to access financial support and job and skills training to achieve employment. It addresses food poverty through practical support such as food parcels and education on cooking healthy food on a budget. Women receive one-to-one support in order to sustain positive outcomes in their lives.

The pandemic exacerbated existing issues such as domestic abuse and job insecurity. Alana House urgently needed to migrate its services to an online setting.

Funding from BCF enabled Alana House to purchase a Zoom license. This allowed Alana House to offer women safe, personalised drop-in support. The team also organised educational sessions such as cooking, baking and photography – which led to a dedicated exhibition with the Museum of English Rural Life.

The grants allowed Alana House to deliver 20 food parcels a month to women experiencing food poverty, including delivering ingredients, cooking equipment and ‘Healthy Eating on a Budget’ sessions to help them cook healthy meals for their families.

As a result of Alana House’s successful transition to online support, feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. Between April 2020 and May 2021, Alana House organised 235 online counselling sessions for its beneficiaries.

Almost half (47%) of women needing mental health support reported an improvement in their condition. All (100%) of the women asked said that they were able to speak to a support worker when they needed to.

“Berkshire Community Foundation is not only a funder of Alana House but also a partner and advocate who have made it possible for hundreds of women to change their lives and build positive futures for themselves and their families. Through the pandemic and the adaptations we have had to make to our services, The Foundation played an important role in enabling us to not only continue our work but make it even more effective for our service users. We appreciate the flexibility and responsiveness of the Foundation strengthening our ability to respond to current service user needs. Thank you from all at the Alana House, PACT and the women helped thanks to the Foundation’s support.”

Jeanie Herbert, Manager of Alana House

Story of support

Katie, a mother of a two-year-old, was referred to Alana House in 2020. She had experienced domestic abuse from her partner, and had been diagnosed with borderline personality disorder, complex post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression and anxiety.

With help from Alana House, Katie worked towards financial stability by applying for a maintenance loan, personal independence payment (PIP), discretionary housing payments (DHP) and disabled students’ allowance (DSA). Following three months of one-to-one support, Katie is keen to continue attending Alana House’s drop-in sessions and utilise what she has learnt to build healthy relationships, overcome trauma and confront future challenges positively.

In its 2020-2021 financial year, Berkshire Community Foundation made £3.2 million in grants funding to 230 charities and groups across the county, helping to make a difference to 1.5 million people in Berkshire.

These were made as part of the Vital for Berkshire – Coronavirus Fund – aiming to help charities and community groups address the urgent issues and needs arising from the first lockdown.

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If you would like to know more about how you can support causes like this, to change lives for the better in Berkshire, please get in touch.

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