A service that provides a lifeline for vulnerable women across North Wales will be helping to police violence against women and girls thanks to cash seized from the region’s criminals. 

The North Wales Women’s Centre has been awarded a grant of £2,500 from the North Wales Police Commissioner’s Your Community, Your Choice fund, to reduce the high levels of Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) offences in the Rhyl area.

The initiative, also supported by the North Wales Police and Community Trust (PACT) and North Wales Police, is in its ninth year.

More than £400,000 has been handed out to deserving causes in that time and much of it has been recovered through the Proceeds of Crime Act, using cash seized from offenders with the rest coming from the Commissioner, Andy Dunbobbin.

The Targeted Early Outreach Scheme is a partnership with Rhyl Neighbourhood Policing Team which aims to identify women at low or medium risk of violence and provide them with a pathway to the Women’s Centre service.

The cash will be used to pay for a dedicated mobile phone sim card and leaflets with a contact number which will be given to the victim who can be given help and advice.

“This project will improve the links between North Wales Police and the Centre offering further safeguarding options to individuals in the community who are at greater risk of further violence,” said Women’s Centre Managing Director Gemma Fox.

“We already work closely with North Wales Police but this new collaboration will mean more women and girls at risk will be signposted to our service so we can get them the help and support they need.”

The Rhyl-based Women’s Centre, which also has contact centres in Wrexham and Bangor, provides early intervention and support to vulnerable women, often with issues such as alcohol and substance misuse, mental health problems and family relationships, to reduce the number in the criminal justice system while helping them live safer, healthier lives.

“The Centre is in its 21st year this year and our mission has always been to cultivate and advance the social and economic development of women in our community,” said Gemma.

“We are a lifeline for many women but it has been tough since the pandemic as the Centre had to close for a while and we had to find alternative ways to support them.

“It was tough but we all got through it. It gave us chance to pause, refocus and come back stronger than ever – like a phoenix rising from the ashes. 

“We are still recovering from the impact of COVID but things are looking really positive. By April, we should be back fully operational and we have lots of exciting plans to come with ideas for new workshops, improving the skills of women in our community and helping them to take control of their lives and move forward. 

“The Your Community, Your Choice grant is gratefully received and will be used to support our ongoing work with North Wales Police to protect women and girls at risk in our community.”

North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner Andy Dunbobbin said: “I am delighted that my Your Community, Your Choice fund continues to support community projects across North Wales.

“There is an element of poetic justice in using money obtained through crime to address the problem of crime in our communities.

“It’s turning bad money into good and it’s making a real difference because it is local people who recognise and understand their local issues and how to solve them.

“This is a really positive aspect of the scheme and it helps bring us closer to those communities.”

Assistant Chief Constable Chris Allsop said: “I get particular satisfaction that part of the funding comes from the proceeds of crime, so that money is taken out of the pockets of criminals and their ill-gotten gains by the courts and is put back into community initiatives.

“It’s turning bad money into good and it’s making a real difference because it is local people who recognise and understand their local issues and how to solve them.

“Policing is part of the community and the community is part of policing and this scheme is a positive way of building trust in policing.

“It’s great to see those relationships flourish because without the community we won’t know what’s going on, without the community we won’t get vital intelligence, and we won’t solve crimes.”

PACT chair Ashley Rogers said: “These awards are important because they support community projects right across North Wales and it’s the communities themselves that decide where the money can best be spent.

 “A lot of what we fund is aimed at providing something for young people to get involved with in their spare time, activities that can help to build skills and positive physical and mental health.