To help women who are isolated, at risk, or caught in the homelessness cycle, an organisation in Dorset set out to fund therapeutic sessions with the help of Sovereign Housing and the crowd. 

Founded in 2017, Safe and Sound Dorset supports women to build their confidence through creativity and community. They offer creative sessions four times a week, along with advice and support with appointments for housing, court, hospital or lifestyle issues. Additionally, they give people access to a hot shower and a washing machine. 

Their cafe outreach, along with their late night outreach, supports women through their most vulnerable moments, many of which are homeless or sofa surfing and in need of a listening ear.

It’s an inclusive community that encourages women to be their best selves, with many going on to help others who walk in from the streets. In their words, everyone has a story to share that will often help the next one who comes through the door. 

Though the team didn’t want to stop there. Through therapeutic sessions, the charity dreamed of expanding their reach and helping even more women who were isolated, at risk, or caught in the homelessness cycle. The sessions would be varied, tailored to each individual, and carried out on a one on one basis by a therapeutic support worker. The sessions could be anything, such as art, pet/horse therapy, nature therapy, or counselling, and would be the beginning of a happier and more secure future.

The cost of six sessions equalled £150, but ideally they wanted to offer each woman 12 sessions which would be £300. To get their initiative started, they set up a crowdfunding campaign to raise £2,000

Kriss, from Safe and Sound Dorset, explained, “As a charity working with women who are isolated or at risk, any fundraising we do is vital for keeping our work running. Crowdfunding is just one way of raising funds and, as there was a match funding element, it made sense to try.”

In the end, they exceeded their initial target and went on to raise an incredible £4,970, and an estimated £301.25 in Gift Aid. This included funding from two of Crowdfunder’s partners! £1,000 came from the Sovereign Thriving Communities fund and an additional £2,285 came from the National Emergencies Trust’s Local Action Fund.  

Kriss said, “The +Extra funding from Sovereign Thriving Communities will go towards our work of helping women who are moving into new long term accommodation, enabling us to offer them support, therapeutic sessions, and weekly contact and connection as they settle into their new community. We believe that with support, our service users can be empowered to recognise and develop their strengths, confidence and self-esteem, and be able to manage their lives positively.”

She continued, “Homelessness, and mental and physical health issues, can affect us all. Having a home is a first step to a more stable environment. Our staff and volunteers support women, often with multiple disadvantages, through temporary and supported housing, and while they move into long term accommodation. Through our creative sessions we offer community support, and through our coffee lounge we offer employability skills and training.”

When asked about the impact of their work, Kriss sent over a testimonial from one of their support workers, highlighting how important their services are to so many women in Dorset. 

“One woman who has been homeless for two to three years, attended the Art Cafe regularly, and has been on our outreach list all that time, has now got her own flat. This is an enormous step for her. She moved in last week.

“For the first time, she came into our Wednesday creative session. She came in to say thank you for the support and to ask if we would still be around on Friday to give her a food bag. I said yes of course we would! She also came in because she is feeling good about herself. It is great to see the joy in her eyes. 

“A place to call home is so important to us all. It gives us a sense of wellbeing, a sense of belonging, a sense of purpose.”

After such a successful first experience of crowdfunding, and receiving the +Extra funding from both Sovereign Housing and the National Emergencies Trust, we asked the Safe and Sound Dorset team for their top tips to inspire others wanting to raise money from the crowd. 

Kriss said, “Give it a go as you have nothing to lose! It can be a wonderful tool for bringing a community together.”

Feeling inspired? Find out if you could receive up to £10,000 from the Sovereign Thriving Communities fund!