PRESS RELEASE: Wolverhampton domestic abuse charity wins top national health award

The charity also introduced innovative Virtual Reality Therapy (VRT) for children and young people who have also been struggling during the pandemic.

Wolverhampton charity The Haven Wolverhampton has won a major national award for its work providing safe accommodation and support to women and children in Wolverhampton affected by domestic abuse. The charity’s use of virtual reality technology to support children was just one of the services praised by award judges.

Following a rigorous selection and assessment process, The Haven Wolverhampton (THW) was chosen from more than 350 charities across the UK as one of the 10 winners of the 2022 GSK IMPACT Awards. Now in their 25th year, the awards are designed to recognise the outstanding work of small and medium-sized charities working to improve people’s health and wellbeing in the UK. This year winners will receive £40,000 in unrestricted funding as well as expert support and leadership development provided by leading health and care charity The King’s Fund. 

Two women a week are killed by a current or former partner in England and Wales, and reports of domestic violence have increased since the start of the pandemic. In the latest Crime Survey for England and Wales, it was estimated that 2.3 million adults aged 16 to 74 years experienced domestic abuse during the year ending March 2020.

THW supports women and children who are vulnerable to domestic abuse and homelessness, some of whom may have physical injuries and many who experience symptoms of depression, anxiety and trauma. In addition to its refuges and safe houses, which last year accommodated over 600 women and children, the charity offers a 24/7 helpline, court advocacy and advice, counselling, and children’s services. It also provides training in domestic abuse to professionals and other employers.

The award judges were particularly impressed by THW’s effective and agile response to the pandemic. The charity’s helpline is the single point of contact for all domestic abuse in Wolverhampton. During the pandemic, the number of women contacting THW for emotional support and counselling has jumped significantly. In response, the charity increased the number of counselling sessions it delivered seven-fold, from ten counsellors delivering on average 40 sessions a month in early 2020, to 35 counsellors delivering up to 280 sessions a month by March 2021.

The charity also introduced innovative Virtual Reality Therapy (VRT) for children and young people who have also been struggling during the pandemic. The technology allows the children to make choices about what they do and see, giving them back a sense of control when it may feel like they have very little. It enables children to navigate through digitally created environments, often taking risks such as riding a roller coaster, or exploring environments such as rainforests or mountains in different countries. Therapeutically trained staff also support the children with issues such as safety and choice.

THW’s local community team works with high-risk women and children who live in their own homes, often still living with the perpetrator. It employs specialist workers to engage with women who are most marginalised such as those with no recourse to public funds or from Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities who are disproportionately affected by issues such as female genital mutilation, forced marriage and honour-based violence.

In response to service user feedback, the charity is now developing self-contained flats as an alternative to shared refuge spaces. This will be especially useful for women with boys over 16 who cannot live in a refuge, or families with much loved pets, where there is the fear of animal abuse by the perpetrator. Last year THW also set up a criminal justice service to help reduce the number of women dropping out of giving evidence against their abusers in court.

Lisa Weaks, Assistant Director, Leadership and Organisational Development, at The King’s Fund, said: “The increase in reports of domestic abuse since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic is shocking. The Haven Wolverhampton has been responsive to the increase in demand for its service and has worked to keep its doors open and deliver new services in a nimble way, targeting the most vulnerable groups of women in the community. We were struck by the way it has significantly scaled up its counselling service and impressed by its innovative new approach to engaging young people affected by domestic abuse through Virtual Reality Therapy. It is run by skilled, knowledgeable staff who demonstrated clear commitment to the charity’s strategic direction.”

The 2022 GSK IMPACT Award recognises THW’s significant impact on improving the health and wellbeing of people in Wolverhampton affected by domestic abuse. Developing leaders in the charity sector is a key aim of the GSK IMPACT Awards programme and all winners are invited to build on their success and take part in a tailored leadership development programme run by The King’s Fund. THW will also be invited to join the GSK IMPACT Awards Network, a UK-wide network of over 110 previous award winners who work together to develop leaders, find new ways of working and provide mutual support.  

Commenting on the award, Popinder Kaur, CEO of The Haven Wolverhampton, said: “We are honoured to receive this recognition for the work that we do at The Haven. I am particularly proud of our frontline staff. As a team they remained committed and adaptable, despite the challenges of the COVID19 pandemic, leading us to make demonstrable impact. We will continue to do all we can as an organisation to centre the needs of vulnerable women and children and make first class support services accessible to them.”

For more information on The Haven Wolverhampton, visit:


Notes to editors 

Photos, interviews and case studies are available upon request. For further information please contact Gemma Umali, Press and Public Affairs Manager at The King’s Fund on 07584 146035 or


  • 2022 marks the 25th anniversary of the GSK IMPACT Awards, GSK’s flagship UK community investment programme. The GSK IMPACT Awards, run in partnership with The King’s Fund, are designed to recognise the outstanding work of community-based health care charities. For more information visit
  • The awards are open to small and medium sized charities working in health and wellbeing with an annual income between £120,00 and £3 million that are at least three years old. The name ‘IMPACT’ derives from the criteria that winners must have demonstrated in their application submission: Innovation, Management, Partnership, Achievement, Community focus and Targeting need. For more information on the application process, visit The 2023 GSK IMPACT Awards will open for applications in July 2022.
  • This year £450,000 in unrestricted prize money will be awarded to UK charities through the GSK IMPACT Awards. To mark the 25th anniversary of the GSK IMPACT Awards, the prize has been increased so that the 10 winners each receive £40,000 in unrestricted funding, a film and other promotional materials to promote the charities, as well as access to training and development activities estimated to be worth £9,500.  At the award ceremony in London in June, an overall winner will be announced, and they will receive an extra £10,000, making a total of £50,000. 10 runners up will also each receive £4,000.
  • The 2022 winners went through a rigorous assessment, including a half day in-depth discussion with an independent assessor, and were selected by a judging panel of health and charity experts including Sir Jonathan Symonds, Chairman, GSK; Richard Murray, Chief Executive of The King’s Fund; Emma Ackerman, Funding Strategy Director at The National Lottery Community Fund; Aleema Shivji, Executive Director of Impact and Investment at Comic Relief; John James, Chief Executive of the Sickle Cell Society and Dr Dominique Allwood, Director of Improvement and Partnerships at UCLPartners.
  • Since its inception in 1997, nearly 520 health and wellbeing charities have received a GSK IMPACT Award and funding totalling nearly £7.7 million. 

GSK is a science-led global healthcare company. For further information please visit

The King’s Fund is an independent charity working to improve health and care in England. It helps to shape policy and practice through research and analysis; developing individuals, teams and organisations; promoting understanding of the health and social care system; and bringing people together to learn, share knowledge and debate. Its vision is that the best possible health and care is available to all.  For further information visit

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