Anah Project began in 1985 when a group of Asian female community workers saw and evidenced the need for a counselling service and residential hostel for Asian women fleeing domestic abuse. Discussions began between Social Services, Bradford & Northern Housing Association (now known as Accent Housing Ltd) and local councillors. Funding was secured and ‘Himmat Counselling and Advice Services’ was set up and began taking clients (‘himmat’ means ‘courage’ in both Hindi and Urdu).
Regrettably Himmat suffered a number of problems, mainly from the reaction of the community and the increasingly complex issues that women were bringing to the project. Himmat closed down although some of the background work continued in the form of an advice service.
In October 1992 the service began to expand again. On the 15th January 1993 the keys to the hostel were handed over and Anah Project was born. The first hostel referral was welcomed on 1st July 1993; the official opening date of the project.
At that time, Anah Project was run by two support workers (formerly known as ‘residential social workers’) and two agency workers who covered night shifts. The support staff maintained contact with social services, who provided much needed assistance.
In November 1993 Anah Project suffered a major setback. Just four months after its official opening, the hostel was subjected to a series of racist attacks which led to its temporary closure and the relocation of residents. It took three weeks to re-establish links with agencies to let them know that it was safe again to continue referring women to the hostel. Over time the racism subsided, allowing the project to improve relations with the local neighbourhood and refocus on its primary cause.
From its beginning Anah Project was funded by the local authority. In 2007 it became independent from the council, although funding still continued In 2012, the austerity measures meant that like many other organisations, Anah Project lost its funding from the local authority. It now relies on funding from donations and grant making bodies.
Anah Project today
Anah Project has come a long way over the years. Despite the many difficulties it has withstood, the philosophy has generally remained the same: ‘to provide safe refuge accommodation to women fleeing domestic abuse/violence, provide support and advice, help women to be free from abuse, support women to make informed decisions about their future and help them regain control over their lives.’
At present the project is fully staffed, with all staff working hard to fulfil their duties to women and girls in line with its aims, values and objectives.