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WV 600Busy year for Women’s Voice

2019 has been a busy year for Women’s Voice. Thanks to a grant from the Tampon Tax Fund, via Sussex Community Foundation, the group has been running a project entitled Finding Our Voices. And as this project draws to a close, Women’s Voice has received another grant, this time from Rosa, the UK Fund for Girls and Women, to run a trailblazing programme that will make it easier for migrant and refugee women to access health provision. Ann Kramer, chair of Women’s Voice, explains what’s been going on.

Finding Our Voices kicked off in May and has been a very rewarding project. Its aim has been to encourage women to come together, share experiences and express their concerns through different activities. Speaking out and having the confidence to do so has been a key aim. We hope that out of the project will come a women’s peer support network that will continue to provide a forum for women.

At least 100 women of all ages and different cultures have taken part in a whole range of different activities, from physical activities such as Self Defence and Body Confidence through to public speaking workshops, cooking and creative activities.

cooking 350We’ve also partnered with a number of different groups. Active Hastings provided activities such as Zumba and Self Defence, which were designed for and drew in a number of young women, always aiming to encourage confidence building. Laura Dunton Clarke and Eggtooth facilitated public speaking workshops.

Women don’t always find it easy to speak out in public so these sessions were designed to help women overcome the fear of speaking in public and explore ways of structuring and delivering issues of personal significance to an audience. As you might imagine, some of the chosen topics are hard-hitting.

Arabian feast

Kate and Samantha of Ground Control Kitchen have delivered food cooking and sharing workshops. We organised childcare to make it easier for women to attend. A diverse range of women attended who prepared and shared dishes from different cultures. The final session was an Arabian feast. Many women and children attended; the food was brilliant and the atmosphere was buzzing.

Local artist Lorna Vahey has run creative slogan-making workshops, where women have created slogans reflecting issues that are important to them and then using fabric paint and stencils have decorated bags and fabric. The sorts of issues that have come up range from sexism and violence against women through to climate change.

slogans 350There’s still one slogan making workshop to come, which takes place on Tuesday 24 September at OPEN, 19 Grand Parade, St Leonards from 1-4pm. Women of all ages are invited to come along, think of rousing slogans and using fabric and textile dye, transfer them onto fabric strips.

This has been a very inspiring and stimulating workshop that has brought women of different ages and cultures together. Women have shared experiences and explored different ways of “finding our voices”.

Moving forward

We’re finishing with a celebration at OPEN on Saturday 5 October, when women from the different workshops will share food, demonstrate their work, and decide how to move a women’s peer support network forward to provide a platform for local women where they can support each other, explore the issues that women face and look at ways in which women collectively can overcome problems.

We have also received funding from Rosa to do a very specific piece of work locally. We’re calling the work Lost in Translation, and it’s happening because women whose first language is not English are having difficulties attending doctors’ or hospital appointments when there are no interpreting services.

Rossana Leal, our project worker and founder of the Hastings Refugee Buddy Project, is leading the work, which continues until December. She will work closely with health professionals, amassing research and exploring strategies for encouraging greater use of interpreters, so helping women to overcome language barriers. We are thrilled that Rosa’s Women on the Frontline grant has funded us to do this.

“Women’s Voice is committed to doing what we can to help empower local women. We would like more women to join us and we want to make Women’s Voice and the work we do better known. We’re running an information stall on the Stade on Sunday 29 September so that people can meet us and learn more about who we are and what we do.”

 

Posted 11:49 Friday, Sep 6, 2019 In: Grassroots

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