About this Archive
Bristol Crisis Service for Women (BCSW), was formed in 1986. The service started as a feminist collective that offered peer support to women struggling to cope with mental ill health, trauma and distress. The founders of BCSW had experience of self-injury, and knew how to support women like them. In January 1988, they opened a telephone helpline, staffed by volunteers.
The helpline was at the heart of BCSW and shifts ran late into the night on Fridays and Saturdays, covering times when women might struggle to get the support that they needed. Helpline volunteers were supported by their colleagues and received an hour of counselling the day after a helpline shift.
Beyond the helpline, BCSW continued to expand its outreach, and in 1990 published it’s first pamphlet, ‘Women and Self Injury’, based on 76 interviews with women themselves. Throughout its history, individuals within BCSW have published ground-breaking reports and resources, focusing on themes such as: the experiences of women who self-injure; services for women who self-injure; self help groups; black and minority ethnic women and self-injury; and women who self-injure in prison.
BCSW also organised conferences and training sessions to educate and raise awareness of self-injury and mental health. They carried out regular internal training for volunteers and staff, but also became well established at providing training to professionals who worked with people who self-injure. Their expertise surrounding self-injury and mental health led to them delivering training across the UK and speaking at several European conferences.
In 2008, BCSW celebrated its 20th Anniversary with the launch of a Text and Email Support Service (TESS) for women under 25. A new website was also launched in 2010, and BCSW was awarded the Queen’s Medal for Voluntary Service at a ceremony at Buckingham Palace. Despite the expansion of the service and the recognition it received, in 2011, the helpline was forced to close due to lack of funding. BCSW continued to develop its training, and in 2013 started new training for schools on working with young people who self-injure.
To better reflect its purpose, the organisation changed its name to, ‘Self Injury Support’ (SIS), in 2014. In the same year, the helpline reopened three days a week. Under its new name, the organisation continued to expand its outreach, working with other organisations to deliver training to more groups of individuals (2015), leading the Self Injury Network Group (SING) (2015), and adding a webchat facility to TESS (2016). The helpline was also expanded to five days a week in 2016, and an app developed in 2017. Bristol Crisis Service for Women/Self Injury Support celebrated its 30th anniversary in 2019. Today, Self Injury Support continues to carry out its mission of improving support and knowledge around self injury.
An oral history project ‘Women Listening to Women’ (https://womenlisteningtowomen.org.uk) to map the history of BCSW was carried out in 2020/2021, funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund. The interviews form part of this collection.
Scope and content
Oral histories, administrative papers, ephemera, photographs and logbooks relating to Bristol Crisis Service for Women (BCSW)/Self Injury Support (SIS). Material includes: oral history audio files and transcripts recorded as part of the 'Women Listening to Women' project; papers relating to BCSW projects; papers collected by Fiona Macaulay; administrative papers; helpline service records and admin; papers relating to helpline volunteers and papers relating to training, workshops and conferences [1974-2022].
N.B. The dates of the material within this archive pre-date the foundation of BCSW because it contains research literature published before 1986.
15 boxes, 22 digital files
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