Barrow Women’s Community Matters . . . Every Woman Can

In April 2018, Women’s Community Matters successfully secured a grant, through Ørsted’s Walney Extension Community Fund.

The grant of £31,500 was awarded to enable a full time Project Worker to deliver a programme of support with the aim of moving women with multiple and complex needs from disadvantage to active citizenship over a 6-12 month period. This will be achieved through individualised access to a tailored support package including courses, activities, support groups and one-to-one support.

To date the group have worked with 326 individual women who have accessed a range of sessions from Cooking Together and Hopeful Harmonies Choir to being an active participant in their Chinwaggers group. Women have accessed 1-1 support as well as gaining self-confidence through Beautiful Women and Beautiful Me courses.

The groups’ Drop-in sessions are a gentle way for women to access the centre for the first time where they are introduced to the activities and courses that they can attend under their Every Woman Can umbrella. Month on month this is where they have seen the biggest numbers of participants, consistently reaching figures of over 100 different women attending drop-in each month.

These women have then gone on to join in with the other groups available as their confidence has increased and their ability to manage aspects of their own lives has improved with tailored support and intervention. There is currently a waiting list for their Beautiful Women courses with 41 different women already having participated over the initial six month period.  This means their target of 48 different women attending the course in the 12 month period, will be exceeded.

As the first 6 months are coming to an end, a number of participants are beginning to move into volunteering, onto the programme which helps them move closer to work, and to become part of the Changing the World Together team where they are involved in social action in their community.

As the Together activities are now linked under the Every Woman Can umbrella it is now easier for women to make the transition between courses and groups. As one woman said,

“I like the idea of belonging, I can come here, try something new and be supported along the way” Age 48 struggling with social isolation and mental health issues

Quotes and feedback from Beautiful Women participants:

“The course has been fantastic, it needs to be kept going to help other women regain who they once were.”

“I have enjoyed these sessions it has given me the confidence to speak out and to realise that everyone makes mistakes, it is part of life.”

“I have been made to feel welcome and put at ease, the groups are small which helps with my anxiety. I feel I am now better at managing my feelings.”

Participants in the groups’ My Safety and Me programme have found it very useful and interesting as it covers a range of subjects from Online Safety to Hate Crime and of the 7 women who attended the last cohort, 6 of them are now attending the centre on a regular basis, two are accessing 1-1 support and four are attending drop-in and cooking together.

The Art group has gone from strength to strength as part of the Every Woman Can programme, with the women involved attending external Art exhibitions and also working in partnership with Art Gene, an independent internationally renowned art research facility.  The women involved have begun to explore the local art scene and to visit other non-traditional support environments which is an excellent achievement considering where they felt they were at in their lives when they first started on the programme.

Quotes from other participants:

Drop-in:

“Drop in is a meeting place. An opportunity to chat, laugh and get together. Nothing is forced and interaction is a social event and the ladies love it! Little ones are always welcome and there is toast and tea! Its like having a big hug.”

“Drop in at first can be rather terrifying when you don’t know anyone but I am so glad I built up the courage to take part. I have met some lovely ladies here and some new friends who understand me and everything I went through. I no longer feel alone when I attend.”

Art:

“Art is lots of fun, friendly and a chance to create something to be proud of.”

“Art has taught me so much since it started and I am proud to keep my work of art on my walls knowing that I did that.”

Cooking Together:

“Cooking is a lovely and inviting environment where you can learn to cook, whilst being surrounded by the nicest people. And you get to enjoy a lovely dinner that is easy to cook and is affordable at the same time.” 

“Cooking has always been a struggle of mine but by attending I have learnt to cook things I never thought I could, I managed to cook me and my family a meal which to me was a big achievement.”

Chinwaggers:

“Chinwaggers is a place you can really discuss some topics and get your opinion listened to, without being told that you are wrong.”

“I have learnt so much from chinwaggers as we do a new topic every week and there is always lots of facts and discussion points. I look forward to what each week brings and to listen to what others have to say and in return they listen to me.”

For more information about the Walney Extension Community Fund, please click here and to find out about the other Funds GrantScape manages, please click here