Search

Upper Holloway charity works to empower women

14:50 09 July 2014

CAST offers a range of activities with the aim of empowering vulnerable women. Picture by Rabbit and Pork Photography

CAST offers a range of activities with the aim of empowering vulnerable women. Picture by Rabbit and Pork Photography

Archant

In a modest building tucked behind bustling Islington streets a charity is empowering and supporting women.

CAST offers a range of activities with the aim of empowering vulnerable women. Picture by Rabbit and Pork PhotographyCAST offers a range of activities with the aim of empowering vulnerable women. Picture by Rabbit and Pork Photography

Creative and Supportive Trust (CAST) in Lysander Mews, Upper Holloway provides a safe space for vulnerable women to enrich their lives by running free personal development and educational classes.

Within the centre women wander in and out of the office appearing relaxed and chatting freely to staff members. Two women stand comparing the clay sculptures they made earlier in a craft class. A small notice board propped up on the floor by a chair is filled with various reminders and details of upcoming events. One note reads “knitting is back by popular demand”.

The easy-going and open atmosphere seems to be the main draw of the centre, as one woman suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome explains: “You don’t have to perform at a certain level and you are allowed to have a bad day. The staff are actually positive that you have just made the effort to come in”.

A young woman diagnosed with bipolar who attends CAST regularly values the sensitivity of staff members. “I feel like I can talk about anything to the staff and no-one will judge me. If I said something in the big wide world they would judge me, but here they accept me for who I am”, she says.

CAST prides itself on specialising in helping women with a history of offending and those experiencing difficulties related to mental illness or substance misuse. The women’s only charity was established in 1982 by Lennie Speer, an ex-offender and members of Holloway prison’s education department, Jenny Cole and Richard Brown.

Women can be referred to the charity in a number of ways, including by a doctor, care-coordinator or support worker. It functions like a small scale college complete with an annual prospectus and offering up to 40 courses taught by professional tutors. Once service users arrive they can take classes within six core areas: health and wellbeing, personal development, creative arts, life skills, IT and moving on.

Life coach Natalie Dee teaches groups as part of the centre’s six week managing relationships course which aims to “explore practical ways in which to build and maintain the trust in relationships”.

Ms Dee, a master practitioner in neuro-linguistic programming (NLP), said: “It is all about you taking care of yourself,” she said. “The more you put yourself first the better you will manage relationships, the more confident you will be and almost everybody wants to be more confident. Then everything you do from that point forward will be a little bit easier. This is what it means to be assertive, it is about being clear. Who am I, what do I want and how do I put that across to another person? ”

Women come from all over London to attend CAST which is a five minute walk from Archway underground station. Classes are full and the centre is busy but the future of the charity is uncertain after this summer and additional funding is needed to sustain operations.

Jasmine Aktar, the director of CAST, believes that the charity is essential as it works to raise awareness and assist women who may not necessarily appear vulnerable. With CAST, such women are helped to transform their lives and are eventually helped to find voluntary work or paid employment.

“I feel very humbled by the impact of the work this fantastic charity delivers and by the dedication and commitment of the wonderful team, volunteers and trustees. Helping ex-offenders is not always a popular cause, which is why we need the help of very special people who look beyond the stereotypes to see the common humanity we all share.”

For more information visit www.castwomen.org.uk.

Latest News Stories

Yesterday, 16:54
The winning building in Tabernacle Street

A Shoreditch nightclub decimated by a fire - famously started by a kiss - has risen from the ashes in the form of an office, and is now one of 38 of RIBA’s winning projects demonstrating exceptional new architecture in London.

Yesterday, 15:54
King's Cross has been evacuated (Picture by Jake Ellacott)

King’s Cross station is open again after a fire alarm led to the evacuation of tens of thousands of bank holiday travellers.

Yesterday, 15:52
Constance and Patrick Adams are being hunted by police

Police searching for Clerkenwell Crime Syndicate member and his wife, thought to be in Spain or Holland

Yesterday, 15:48
The Mildmay Collective

A group of residents, families and staff at Canonbury care home have launched a thought-provoking art exhibition about the politival and social nuances of living in a care home.

Most read news

Competitions

You could take in stunning views of London over brunch at the Sky Garden

Celebrate lighter, brighter days with the chance of winning an indulgent brunch for two with a bottle of bubbles at Darwin, the cool and casual brasserie 36 floors up at Sky Garden.

Time to experience the dizzy heights of London's tallest attraction!

Morgan Pryce, commercial property experts based in London are offering one lucky reader the chance to win a pair of tickets to The Shard viewing platform in the city itself.

Digital Edition

Image
Read the Islington Gazette e-edition today E-edition
Family Notices 24


Our trusted business finder