WOMEN experiencing problems with relationships, housing, money and domestic violence now have easy access to free confidential advice at the Langland Community Centre.

Malvern Women's Project, which runs a refuge for women escaping from domestic violence, is equally keen to support those who want to work through their difficulties while remaining at home.

Co-ordinator Sharon Roleston has recruited four women to work outside the refuge, to be based at the Langland Centre in Baxters Walk.

"Women are very isolated in small communities and it's difficult for us to find them and for them to find us," she said.

"Until now, they've tended to be referred to us by the police, health visitors, accident and emergency departments, social services, GPs and churches. Now they will be able to access all sorts of information through us at the Langland Centre."

Appointments can be made on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays to discuss matters such as physical and emotional abuse, debt management, housing problems and access to legal services.

"If you are the subject of violence the hardest option is to stay in your own home. We can support people who make that choice and help with practical things like fitting alarms and changing locks," said Sharon.

Although based in Langland, the service is open to people from all over Malvern, Ledbury, Upton and the surrounding area. Eventually, it is hoped to have a number of satellite offices.

Everything depends on funding, so grants are being sought to ensure the long-term employment of the four outreach workers, whose services are secure until July. The Malvern refuge is staffed by Stonham Housing Association, which pays the salaries for 1.5 full-time workers. Two are employed and the shortfall has to be made up through fundraising.

"The Eveson Trust funds a children's worker and we have help from the Association for the Assistance of Ladies in Reduced Circumstances. We also rely very much on an army of volunteers," said Sharon.

Money from Comic Relief is being used to set up a web site, so that anyone with access to the internet can click on "women" and find information about the Malvern Women's Project. The phone number is also listed in the Yellow Pages, under counselling and advice.

The project's outreach work complements that of other groups at the Langland Centre, including the Citizens Advice Bureau, youth inquiry service, young mothers' group and post-natal depression group.

Lynne Roberts, of the Workers' Educational Association, which also runs relevant courses at the centre, said: "Besides providing general educational opportunities for men and women, we're offering things relevant to women's lives and needs, like sewing, cookery, assertiveness, self-defence and feel-good sessions."

Sharon said: "We can support women in whatever they want to do. The world is their oyster.

"On Thursdays, we have open house, with a creche and various things going on, like relaxation, massage, henna painting and hair braiding."

It is all about building women's confidence and self-esteem by providing easily accessible services and information on anything they might want to know.