REDDITCH’S Rees Cafe celebrated International Women’s Day in style last Friday by unveiling a stunning exhibition of women who have been through – and triumphantly emerged from – the care system.
Painted by the Rees Foundation’s arts co-ordinator Kim Cormack, herself a care leaver, iconic figures like Marilyn Monroe and Eartha Kitt are set next to local women who have overcome adversity to make their way in the world.
“Eartha Kitt is a real heroine of mine and I was researching this, to discover that she too was a care leaver, was a real eye opener,” said Kim.
“Celebrating International Women’s Day is so important because what happens in the care system can affect someone for the rest of their lives, and this is to show that you can come through this, whatever your background, and succeed.”
The philosophy behind the Rees Cafe is to support care leavers who are often left without any safety net when they leave the care system.
But, said manager Helena Tonks, it’s open to everyone else too to go along, enjoy a cup of freshly brewed tea or coffee and a slice of home made cake.
“We’re a community cafe, a space for care leavers, like myself, but also for the general public too,” she said.
The cafe also has a shop and people in need can pick up a good winter coat to keep the cold at bay – all absolutely free.
Young care leavers looking to get a start in the job market are also offered suits so they look their best when they go for interviews.
“Rees Cafe also gives people volunteer opportunities and work experience too,” said Helena.
The exhibition continues until the end of this month and the cafe can be found in Church Road in the town centre just off Church Green West.