THE future of a hub set up to provide help and support for women across Ayrshire is in doubt – due to a huge growth in people desperately needing support and a severe lack of funding.

The Ayrshire Women's Hub, established in Ayr five years ago, provide a wide range of services, ranging from domestic abuse support, to financial advice, health groups, classes, a popular café and, importantly, a safe space for women to meet.

But founder Angie-Leigh McPike says all that is at risk – with a major problem being lack of support from the South Ayrshire health and social care partnership (HSCP).

The partnership routinely refers women in need of help to the hub. And despite the lack of financial support from them, the number of referrals has tripledin a year, thanks to the cost of living crisis.

And she revealed one of the HSCP told her: “We know if you don’t get money from us, you’ll do the job anyway.”

Ayr Advertiser: Founder Angie-Leigh McPikeFounder Angie-Leigh McPike (Image: Ayrshire Women's Hub)

Angie-Leigh said: “In 2021 and 2022 we received around 200 referrals from the Health and Social Care Partnership.

“From April last year to April this year, we have received 598. It has tripled.

“The demand on our services has gone off the scale with the cost of living crisis.

“We approached the health and social care partnership to see if we could get a service level agreement, where they would provide funding.

"It was a long process - and we got nothing.

“I will never turn anyone away. We just can’t. But the service is under threat.

"The demand is increasing and the money is not flowing through. We have bigger overheads than ever before.

“We are at a point where the demand on our services is greater than we can continue to work with. I could bring in more workers but we don’t have any funding.”

The hub has a team of professional women bringing a wealth of experience and qualifications allowing them to specialise in domestic violence, mental health, grief and loss, benefits advice, and support for those facing social isolation.

Angie-Leigh studied health and social care before establishing the hub.

She said: “I saw there was a gap where there were no services available. I saw people were falling through.

“I decided there was another way to help women and girls. I decided to leave my job and start the hub five and a half years ago.

“The concept it, we are an umbrella organisation. When someone is in crisis or looking for support, it is often not just one thing or one problem that they are facing.

“People were getting pushed between services to deal with different issues they were facing. And we were losing the people that needed help. It was proving more traumatic for people to keep doing it time and again.

Ayr Advertiser: The Ayrshire Women's Hub

“Here, we keep it in-house. We advocate for people and offer full emotional and practical support.

“On top of that, once people have been with a service, there was nowhere to move on to. There was no follow up.

“That’s why we have the hub space. There are groups, classes, the cafe, a safe space and a chance to socialise in a safe environment.

“It is all about empowerment.”

She continued: “When we started it went crazy. We have supported tens of thousands of vulnerable people.

“We used to be in the Arran Mall. It was a huge space and we had lots of classes. 

"We generated funds through the café and had a lot of space, but we had to move.

“We found this building, and it is amazing and we love it, but it comes at a cost.

“South Ayrshire Council have given us support, but it costs us £1,800 a month for rent now, whereas it was nothing before.”

Angie-Leigh said: “The 598 people referred don’t leave us. The one-to-one support may be over for them but here they have a safe space, and they can integrate through our workshops and they can get all the support they still need.

“From the council, we have had levels of support. But from the health and social care partnership, who are referring people to us every day, we still have no service level agreement.

"If they can’t refer them to us, then where do those people go?”

A spokesperson for the South Ayrshire HSCP said: "South Ayrshire Health and Social Care Partnership is continuing to have dialogue with Ayrshire Women’s Hub and their funding arrangements."

If you can help the Ayrshire Women’s Hub or would like to find out more about the vital services provided, you can call them on 01292 848024.