7th Feb 2019

A former social worker who has helped thousands of women in her community has received a British Citizen Award at a prestigious ceremony in London.

Photograph (courtesy of Just for Women) from left to right: Michael Underwood, TV Personality; Linda Kirk; Dame Mary Perkins, Founder of Specsavers

Linda Kirk, who founded the Just For Women Centre in Stanley attended the service at the Palace of Westminster hosted by Lord Dholakia on Thursday. It is only eight years since the 59-year-old set up her independent, non-profit organisation using craft as a form of therapy for vulnerable women.

The idea was to create somewhere they could access free counselling, learn skills, form friendships and re-build their confidence to get back into work.

Since then the centre has helped thousands across the region, including many survivors of abuse and woman with mental heal issues.

Ms Kirk, joined for her trip to the capital by her co-directors, Lestryne Tweedy and Debbie Rogan.

She said: “I did not know what a big deal it was. I just knew we were going to the House of Lords, and we were going to be presented with something. We have had a lot of awards over the years and each one of them has been important but this has been the highlight so far. This means we are being recognised by society and people who make the decisions in parliament. Being down there at the ceremony and hearing them tell our story was brilliant. This award is for all of us. It was a brilliant day.”

Ms Kirk was welcomed at the Houses of Parliament by Kevan Jones, MP for North Durham, who is a patron of the centre.

He said: “I’m delighted that Linda has been recognised for the tremendous work she does. The project she started has gone to strength from strength, down to Linda and her team. Her drive, enthusiasm and real determination to help others is an asset that has helped so many people from Stanley over the years.”

The success of the project has also been recognised by Stanley Town Council, which last year spent £190,000 on a property the organisation could use for a peppercorn rent. It has now moved from its former home on Front Street, in Stanley, to Thornleyholme Terrace, near the police station. The new building has a tea room and gift shop, with office space and training rooms where women can attend courses and have counselling.

Councillor Carl Marshall, who is on Stanley Town Council and Durham County Councillor, said: “The new Just for Women Centre is an excellent facility, and builds on the work done at the previous centre, which has helped countless local families through the most challenging times in their lives.

“Linda Kirk has worked tirelessly for the community over many years, and this Award is a fitting recognition of her dedication and achievements.”

Durham Community Action have recently been supporting Just for Women, proving information and advice on running a cree and signposting them to the Tampon Tax Fund where they were successful in accesing funding. 

For more information about Just for Women, please visit their website 

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