The services provided by BDDWA developed from grassroots level. In 1989, a group of women from the Borough of Blackburn with Darwen, with a strong commitment to the empowerment of local women was formed. The group’s interest in keeping victims of Domestic abuse and their children safe, led to them investigating local services. This highlighted the lack of provision of domestic violence related services within the local area.
The steering group informed Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council of the need for safe, supportive accommodation for women and children experiencing domestic violence and submitted a request for funding so that they could begin to provide the services that were required. The immense support of the council members lead to the allocation of two grants, the first allowed for the purchase of the group’s first refuge. This was a small two bed roomed terraced house. The second grant funded the employment of a full time Refuge worker.
The Refuge project worker and three volunteers, with support from four Management Committee members, began working on the project in January 1991.
The Women’s Information and Self Help (WISH) Centre was opened in March 1998, becoming an invaluable place for women to get advice and support. The WISH Centre quickly became a valuable resource for women in the local community. By 2011 the organisation had expanded so much that the WISH Centre moved premises from Cardwell Place to King Street to accommodate the number of staff and clients. The organisation are also now able to support many more families in purpose built refuge accommodation.
In April 2014 the name of the organization was changed from Blackburn with Darwen District Womens Aid to Blackburn with Darwen District Without Abuse (BDDWA for short) to reflect the fact that services are now also available to support men, as well as women.
Other services that BDDWA now offer include a helpline, advice work, IDVA, ISVA, BME services, a free legal surgery, counselling service, floating support service, programmes for both victims and perpetrators of domestic abuse and their children and awareness raising projects in schools.