As social enterprises struggle to cope with public spending cuts and the recession, people are coming up with their own novel ways of tackling the problems in their neighbourhoods. From community kitchens to help cash-strapped families afford fresh nutritious food, to pubs run by church congregations, residents have stepped in where charities have been unable to help. Chief reporter Emily Walker looks at the latest initiative to solve a local problem.
Every day 30 women in Brighton and Hove are abused by their partners.
Police and charities have been considering a raft of measures to try to combat the increasing problem, but one hairdresser has decided to take matters into her own hands by transforming her salon into a safe haven for victims of domestic violence.
Rose Cresswell, 50, who was herself a victim of a violent husband, hopes to be able to help her customers with more than just a trim.
Rose also wants to be able to offer her customers a friendly ear and the support and advice they need to escape violent relationships.
She is hoping to extend her salon in Barcombe Road, Moulsecoomb, to make room for private treatment rooms where trained counsellors can be on hand for support.
She is hoping to recruit a male barber with a doorman’s SIA security licence to protect her staff and customers and will also install state of the art CCTV. Rose’s own success story should be an inspiration for her customers.
Describing her own ordeal, the mother of two said: “Initially he would do things to himself, self harm and smash glass.
“Then after I had my daughter Jade he started to hurt me. He told me it was my own fault and that I wasn’t a mother to her.
“I was running a business from 8am to 8.30pm and he thought I should come home and clean the house and look after the baby and sleep with him.
“Then when I had my second daughter, Amber, he got so much worse.
“One time he punched me in the face in front of everyone in my shop and threw me on the floor.
“The final straw came after I went out for a drink with a friend and apparently we had taken too long.
“He trapped me on the floor, sat down on my chest and stuck his fingers in my windpipe so I couldn’t breathe.
“My children saw me unconscious on the floor.”
First port of call
Rose lost her business in the lengthy battle to keep custody of her children. But now having started again from scratch and set up a successful business, Monroe’s Hair and Beauty, she feels compelled to help other women faced with a similar situation.
She said: “I’m not planning to be Citizens Advice or Rise.
“I will be emergency first aid – a first port of call for local victims.
“I’m a person you can say things to who will support you without any pressure.
Abuse “I have had women come in before and I can see it in their eyes.”
Rose has spotted the signs of abuse in her customers and helped them to take the steps needed to break free.
She has offered them emotional support and practical advice on securing their financial independence and the safety of their children from abusive partners.
If she is able to extend her salon she hopes to open new treatment rooms where she will be able to use her qualifications to help victims train for new skills.
Detective Inspector Miles Ockwell, who is in charge of dealing with domestic violence cases in Brighton and Hove, said that more than 1,900 incidents had been reported to the police in the city since April, working out at almost ten a day.
It is generally accepted that only a third of domestic violence incidents are reported to the police, meaning as many as 30 women a day could be in need of Rose’s services.
Rose has been promised some financial help in building her dream if she gets the initial planning permission she needs.
‘He tried to push me out of a car’
One of Rose’s customers had been visiting in her salon for months before she was finally able to open up and seek help.
She said: “I had been in a relationship for seven years. He started off mentally controlling and I went through it for a long, long time.
“He beat me up because I had spoken to a friend about it.
“Rose helped me to sort out what I had to do when I had decided to leave.
“He had been very emotionally controlling for a long period of time. He controlled my life. I wasn’t allowed to go out.
“That built up for about six years then he actually attacked me.
“Then he started to be nasty to my eldest son and I couldn’t let him do that.
“The next day I went with him to the doctors and he told me I might not see my little boy again. Then he tried to push me out of the car.
“Then he told the police I had assaulted him.
“Rose was fantastic.
“I hadn’t worked for years and had no self esteem but she gave me the confidence I needed.
“I used to come in here and she obviously took one look at me and could see what was going on but didn’t say anything until I was ready.
“This is a fabulous place to come.
“You always know she’s there.”
It’ll be school dinners with a difference
Community chef Robin Van Creveld is planning to set up a community kitchen in a school.
He is hoping to launch the pilot project at Brighton Aldridge Community Academy in Falmer in the New Year.
Mr Van Creveld has already taught hundreds of Sussex residents how to bake bread and has tutored care home workers, school catering managers and the fire service on making nutritious meals on tight budgets. The school builds on his belief that good food is a fundamental human right.
With donations of time, labour and goods from the community, he transformed a derelict warehouse on Lewes’s Phoenix Trading Estate into a fully-equipped kitchen.
At the Lewes Community Kitchen groups are able to bake bread to distribute locally as a cheaper and more community-minded alternative to mass produced food.
Vicar hopes to take his flock to the pub
Members of Father John Wall’s congregation have joined together to take over the Bevendean pub.
Residents are working together to try to reopen the once troubled boozer as a community owned pub.
They have announced that they will sell £10 shares in the venture from December 1 with the hope of reaching the required £200,000.
Leading the campaign to get the beers flowing at the venue in Hillside is none other than the local vicar.
Father Wall, left, of St Andrew’s in Moulsecoomb, said: “Every good community deserves a good church and a good pub.”
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