Downton Abbey star heading to York to celebrate charity’s birthday

Penelope Wilton as Isobel Crawley in Downton Abbey, with Hugh Bonneville as Robert, Earl of Grantham (right) and Allen Leech as Tom Branson. Photograph: ITV / Nick Briggs
16 Nov 2015 @ 8.42 pm
| Charity

She stars in Downton Abbey, as well as films including Calendar Girls and The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.

To learn more, see the Kyra Women’s Project website

And later this month acclaimed actor Penelope Wilton will be in York to join the birthday celebrations of a unique charity.

Penelope, who plays no-nonsense Isobel Crawley in Downton Abbey, is patron of Kyra Women’s Project, the only independent charity in York run by women for women.

It supports those who have experienced low periods for all sorts of reasons – among them post-natal depression, bereavement, domestic abuse and bullying.

Explaining why she was so delighted to become involved with Kyra, Penelope said:

Many women experience times in their lives when they are down, and at these times, they need to be helped up with a gentle hand.

Kyra does this, not just in the support groups provided but also by running training courses, social activities, individual work, providing advice and giving that very important listening ear.

Helping hundreds of women

The Kyra Women’s Project opened in Marygate Lane in November, 2013.

Since then it has grown to a membership of more than 200, and moved to larger premises in St Saviourgate. And in the first half of 2015 there were 1,068 individual visits for its drop-in sessions, activities and alternative therapies.

On Tuesday, November 24, Penelope will visit the charity, meeting members, volunteers and counsellors during a craft session, afternoon tea and cake cutting.

Later she will take part in a fundraising event at Merchant Adventurers’ Hall, including a Q&A with Elly Fiorentini from BBC Radio York at 6.20pm, followed by drinks and canapes.

There are no paid staff at Kyra – 32 volunteers provide approximately 9,800 hours of their time to the charity each year.

‘Warm, open environment’

From Downton Abbey to St Saviourgate… Penelope Wilton. Photograph: ITV / Nick Briggs
From Downton Abbey to St Saviourgate… Penelope Wilton. Photograph: ITV / Nick Briggs

It was the brainchild of educationalist and psychologist Yvonne Copley, Kyra project manager.

The charity is there to provide ongoing support for women whose difficulties had led to feelings of alienation and isolation.

She wanted to create a safe, warm and open environment in which women could meet other women and feel mutually supported.

Cath Harvey, chair of trustees at Kyra, said:

Women come to us as women – not as someone with a mental health problem, as an offender, someone isolated or as someone in recovery.

We try to make sure that we have the services available to meet the challenges women face.