A charity established to support victims of sexual violence and rape and provide life-changing services for women has reopened.

Although Watford Women’s Centre was forced to close its Market Street premises in March due to the lockdown, its staff continued to work remotely to provide emotional, practical and educational support to women.

The centre was able to reopen on Monday, with safety measures in place that require visitors to follow guidelines on social distancing and hygiene.

A one-way system is in operation and class sizes are restricted to six people. Visitors should bring a face mask or covering and are asked to use hand sanitiser on entry and exit to the centre.

Chief executive Fiona Miller said: “We remain committed to supporting the wellbeing and mental health of everyone in our community while ensuring that safeguarding physical health is our first priority.

“Our staff are working exceptionally hard under difficult circumstances to continue to provide training, counselling and advice to those who need it.

“We are still yet to see the full impact that lockdown has had regarding an increase in domestic abuse and mental health issues, but the effects of the Covid-19 crisis could be long-lasting. By reopening our physical services we hope to be able to help more women in need of support.”

The reopening is taking place in a phased manner and the centre is offering one-to-one domestic abuse support. Some adult learning courses are also starting to be taught on site, although others will continue via Zoom. The centre’s low-cost therapeutic counselling will continue to operate remotely for the time being.

The centre is open from 9.30am to 4.30pm, Monday to Thursday.

You can visit the centre's website for further information or to make a donation.