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Helping Hand’s Esther Project Venue Officially Opened Following Help From Calor

Mathew Hickin CEO of Calor cutting the ribbon of the new Helping Hands centre in Leamington
Following a full renovation and refurbishment, the doors to the new Helping Hands Esther Project venue in Leamington Spa, were officially opened by Matthew Hickin, CEO of Calor Gas, and are now ready to provide essential support and services to vulnerable families from the area.
As a charity close to its heart for many years, Calor presented the Helping Hands Community Project with a cheque for £10,000 in April, to enable it to create a multi-purpose space to help women who have been a victim of domestic violence, as part of its Esther Project. Calor was also able to supplement its donation by obtaining an additional £2K of funding from the Royal Warrant Association, of which the company is a member, to further add to the scope of the refurbishment.  

Alongside the monetary donation, volunteers from Calor have worked closely with Helping Hands, giving input and time, to ensure that the trauma-informed space could be taken from a dark, cold basement, to a warm, cosy, welcoming and safe zone. The room will now be used for crafting, dining, and meeting with others, and will give vulnerable women an opportunity to rebuild their confidence and provide much-needed all-around support in a place they feel comfortable.   
 
Lianne Kirkman, CEO of Helping Hands Community Project, said: “This refurbished multi-purpose venue is absolutely vital to help us move forward with our Esther vision. We believe for anyone who has experienced trauma in their lives, they need to feel safe, soothed, seen, valued, and worthy to overcome and counteract that trauma. The state of the previous drop–in room could easily trigger some post-traumatic reactions in our clients with its utilitarian style. It could have easily reminded them of a doctor’s waiting room or a difficult experience. 

“We wanted to create a space for our clients where they could feel positive - a place of security, a place they can feel welcomed and loved unconditionally and be accepted for who they are without judgement.”

As choice of colour is so important to developing the right atmosphere, the charity and Calor enlisted the help of Erica Shanahan, interior designer and co-founder of 1 Mill Street in Leamington Spa, to breathe feeling into the surroundings and make it a place people want to be in. Calming pinks, golds, blues and greens have all been combined, to ensure visitors can relax and recuperate.  Soft furnishings and plants add extra warmth and the flooring, which was kindly donated by Amtico, adds the finishing touch. 
Lianne Kirkman, CEO of Helping Hands Community Project, added: “The Esther project was inspired by my own personal story of overcoming mental health issues and then turning my own pain into purpose by helping others. 

“Our Esther group is full of women who are often still held captive by their addictions, events that have happened to them, or words people have said, so we invite them to come to our group, where they can develop trusting friendships, receive help through counselling, as well as being reminded of their true worth, strength and courage. 

“We offer opportunities for them to volunteer and do educational courses in order to help rebuild their self-esteem. We run pamper days and well-being sessions, such as yoga and equine therapy sessions, and, as we constantly remind the ladies of their true worth - we have introduced some merchandise called WOW (women of worth) that we gift to all the ladies who come to our groups to remind them they are all ‘Women of Worth’.”
Matthew Hickin, CEO at Calor, said: “Helping Hands provides much-needed support to women in the area, and it is fantastic to see this important part of the Esther Project finally come to fruition. Having a safe space where they know they will be welcomed has such a valuable role to play in helping people rebuild their lives. 

“What really has been so special about this project is that the donation was only part of Calor’s involvement. Members of the Calor team have used their volunteering days and worked closely with Lianne and Helping Hands, getting involved from the design stages to joining in and picking up a paint brush to help decorate the room itself. 

“We are looking forward to seeing groups able to enjoy this space, whether this is for a craft afternoon or simply a welcome chat. The room has been completely transformed from a functional space to one that will make a difference to so many women and we have been delighted to be part of this. We look forward to continuing to help the charity’s efforts in the future.”

Helping Hands has been supporting vulnerable people in their community through numerous different schemes since 2015. You can find more information about their work on their website: https://www.helpinghandscharity.org.uk/