Pioneering new service to empower women and girls in Leeds bags £2m cash boost A PIONEERING new service to help transform the lives of vulnerable women and girls in Leeds has been given a £2m cash boost. Women’s Lives Leeds – which launches today – will use the money from the Big Lottery to help empower and support women and girls at risk in the city. The brand new consortium, which is believed to be a UK first, is made up of 12 local organisations tackling a range of issues from mental health and domestic violence to child sexual exploitation and trafficking. A special ceremony to launch Women’s Lives Leeds (WLL) will be held at the Civic Hall today. Kate Bratt-Farrar, chief executive at Leeds Women’s Aid, which is leading on the initiative, said: “It’s a real step forward. It’s such a vital time to bring additional support and a voice to the women and girls in Leeds.” Hundreds of women and girls will meet today to celebrate the launch of the new women’s network at Leeds Civic Hall, where it will be announced that the £2m will help support victims of domestic violence as well as groups focussing on mental health, sexual health, sex work, trafficking, child sexual exploitation and ethnic minority groups. The consortium aims to reach 1,657 women and girls at risk in the first year. Kate added: “Leeds has been really forward-thinking when it comes to women’s issues but we all recognise that there are lots of women and girls across the city that have more than one issue. “By working together, we can provide stronger, more joined-up services. “We are stronger together and have worked hard to secure this investment for women and girls in Leeds and we’re really looking forward to being able to deliver even better services.” It is hoped the project will enable women and girls to lead healthier, safer and more fulfilled lives. Service users will also get the chance to influence the development, delivery and design of the service across the city.Council leaders, key representatives from the 12 organisations involved and service users will all attend the event today. Councillor Judith Blake, leader of Leeds City Council, said: “I am delighted that women’s services in Leeds have attracted the Big Lottery to invest in these services, benefitting women in our community and helping young girls and women most in need.” WLL is made up of Leeds Women’s Aid, Women’s Counselling and Therapy, Basis Yorkshire, Together Women Project, Women’s Health Matters, Nari Ekta, Hooner Kelah, Shantona, Getaway Girls, Behind Closed Doors, HALT and ASHA.