A groundbreaking centre to support women in West Cumbria is set to open its doors in the coming weeks.

The WOW! (Women out West) Centre is being developed at Haig Enterprise Park in Whitehaven.

It is designed to help women in all kinds of circumstances, from victims of domestic violence, to those affected by separation or divorce, women living in poverty or on low incomes, to those who want to set up their own business.

There are currently dedicated women's centres in Carlisle and Barrow, but not in the west of the county.

Rachel Holliday of the Time to Change (West Cumbria) Project CIC, which is behind the project, described it as "a place where women who are facing a difficult time, for whatever reason, are able to get the help and support they need in a safe environment".

It will have two rooms dedicated to education, allowing women to access educational and personal development courses.

There will also be access to services and advice on topics such as housing issues, debt and money advice.

It will offer exercise and health and wellbeing support, social events, inspiring films, live music and aspirational speakers.

A nail bar and small hairdressing salon will also be provided on the site.

There will be a mixture of drop-in sessions and structured one-to-one and group sessions, with space for other groups to hire.

The centre aims to support 200 women a year.

Initial plans for the project were first revealed in September, which would have seen the centre, including a bed and breakfast facility, developed at the former Howgill Family Centre with a planned opening date of November this year.

But, due to financial constraints, the decision was taken to open the women's centre at the enterprise park first, with the aim of developing a four-star social enterprise bed and breakfast at the former family centre in the long term.

The project has cost about £170,000 to get up and running, funded by the Ministry of Justice, with support from Copeland MP Trudy Harrison.

The work is being carried out by Stobbarts Ltd and is expected to be completed around the end of the month.

The opening date of the centre will depend on the time needed to recruit and train staff.

Mrs Holliday said: "Due to their strong commitment, we are now months ahead of the original opening date. We expect to be open early summer. We are all so excited.

"The building of the WOW! (Women out West) Centre has been a journey to say the least. The whole place is just amazing, designed by a wonderful woman, Leah Coe, of Day Cummins Ltd.

"WOW! will meet all the needs of our women in West Cumbria.

"I spent many years of my life in need of a centre just like this. I couldn’t be prouder of the team that have brought this project to life in just 12 months.

"It just goes to show what can be achieved when we all pull together."

The centre is expected to cost around £90,000 a year to run, and finance towards that has been provided by the office of the police and crime commissioner, and the United Utilities Legacy Fund, which is administered by Cumbria Community Foundation.

Anyone interesting in donating to the project or becoming a volunteer can email Mrs Holliday at rachel.holliday@ttcwestcumbria.org