A charity said there has been a marked rise in calls from women looking for advice, guidance and support for its services.

Blackburn-based Humraaz said this International Women’s Day it was ‘choosing to challenge’ misconceptions and celebrate BAME women’s achievements through art therapy.

The charity noted that incidents of domestic abuse, sexual violence and mental health needs had soared among communities.

Humraaz is led by and for black and minoritised women, supporting and nurturing women from diverse ethnic backgrounds to have a voice.

Firoza Mohmed said: “Women who have fled domestic abuse, honour-based violence have been supported to move from crisis to safety in our refuge. Our structured programmes provide the women a safe place to grow, allow integration into society with social and economic stability.”

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Humraaz is aiming to help women through wellbeing courses and workshops.

Firoza added: “During the Covid-19 pandemic we have seen a marked increase in self referrals from women looking for advice and guidance.

“This has been due to a number of barriers: lack of language skills, lack of cohesive services and response due to staff working from home, increased isolation due to ‘lockdown’ impacting social interaction with other women or mums at the school gate who may have often offered support.”

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Last International Women’s Day Humraaz launched ProDIGY a peer support group for BAME women to become tomorrow’s leaders. The project aimed to encouraged women to promote themselves into leadership and management roles.

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Firoza said: “The pandemic did not hold these women back, the success of the online sessions zoomed off on a tangent embracing the need for support, interaction and progress personally and professionally.

“The sessions dealt with self-care and assertiveness workshops and building resilience to having external speakers who inspired and encouraged the women to plough on. Our upcoming sessions will focus on social entrepreneurship and how to become a trustee.”

Twelve months into the launch of ProDIGY, members of the group have been invited onto a leadership course run by Stimulus Ltd ‘Still I Rise’.