Rochdale Women’s Welfare (Women’s support group)
Had two big events to raise awareness around Domestic Violence one of them was road show of domestic violence awareness in township committees. This awareness programme which was presented to 3 townships committees of Rochdale, Heywood and Middleton. The second event was held on the 8th of March in conjunction with Women’s international week over 300 women attended the event and received the information from the support worker and the volunteers.
We worked in partnership with Rochdale’s Safer Homes Scheme. There was an awareness session held for the agencies across the borough to help them understand the scheme and the importance of safer Homes.
Safer Homes is an initiative whereby anyone who is a victim of Domestic abuse or is in fear of violence from the perpetrator can apply through the council for a safer homes assessment. This would then lead to a full inspection of the home and any necessary changes i.e. door locks, window locks, personal alarms etc. are given to the applicant.
The volunteers are currently working with projects to raise awareness around domestic violence through the angle of the anti-bullying campaign. The volunteers have delivered 3 separate sessions to 3 groups of 20-25 children from a Year 6 group at the local school which the women support group has strong links with from our networking with agencies.
We have had some training delivered by Oxfam the aim of the training was to strengthen the BME women’s voice in the North through a set of 3 day sessions designed to help women from BME women’s agencies to enhance their skills, experience and knowledge enabling them to become more effective in their roles, engage with decision makers and develop a strengthened policy voice. Which consisted on how to empower women to have their voice heard and to challenge local authority and government on women’s right such as no resource to public funds. From this training we were able to meet up with other network in Leeds, Accrington and Manchester, these networks have the same criteria as our project working with women fleeing domestic violence. The training was so good that our project have asked Oxfam to support us in the delivery of this training in Rochdale.
We would like to thank Lankelly chase for all the help and support they gave us over the 5 years of this project. Due to this funding we were able to achieve so much as such
Due to the support received by Susan Ash from Lankelly chase we were able to develop a network link working closely with so organisations that we did not know existed such as Oxfam –Routes to solidarity project. . .Oxfam’s Routes to Solidarity Project supports BME women and their organisations to increase knowledge of their rights, exercise greater leadership, build confidence and the capacity to work together and to influence decisions and to secure and develop links to help influence policymakers. The project offers a unique opportunity for ethnic minority women and their organisations to collectively share their experiences, and to act on the needs and issues they experience. Routes to Solidarity is being run in the UK by Oxfam as part of the Race Equality Programme; focusing on overcoming racism, poverty and inequalities. The project is funded by the Department of Communities and Local Government.
Rochdale Women’s Welfare (Women’s Support Group) were able to voice their concerns and issues thorough lobbying with Strengthening North West Women’s Voices in Government; This consultation event was organised by the Black and Minority Ethnic Women’s Solidarity Forum (BME WSF) is a coalition of women based in the North West who have come together to form a collective voice.
This forum feels there is a lack of representation of women’s voices that are not defined by their religion, nationality, background, sexuality or race. BME women face multiple discrimination and race and gender inequality, are underrepresented powerless, and marginalised. The WSF’s current areas of activity are to consider the impact of decisions and policy on the most vulnerable women and promoting, listening, valuing and investing in the BME and BME Women’s Voluntary and Community Sector.
As a result the WSF decided to organise the Strengthening North West women’s Voices in Government on 27 May 2011. This was the only consultation exercise on this matter in the North West which brought together 80 women from 43 women’s voluntary and community sector (VCS) in the North West. This included women from refugee and migrant groups, LGBT, domestic violence workers, academics, mainstream VCS, BME women, local authority, rape crisis workers and women’s welfare workers and we were able to bring our views to Government
The main issues which women’s views were sought on have been:
- About the most important challenges or priorities facing women in the UK today;
- On the four main engagement methods outlined;
- Accessibility issues – e.g. how to help non IT users to take part, ensuring marginalised or ‘hard to hear’ women including those women who do not have English as a first language have their voices heard
- Other methods which GEO should be looking at as part of the new approach
The Strengthening Women’s Voices in the North West consultation in the afternoon commenced with a speech from Helene-Reardon Bond O.B.E who urged participants to tell the government what the main challenges and priorities were for North West women today and also to inform on the best ways for the government to engage with women’s groups.
Violence against women and girls: This was raised as a key issue impacting on women’s rights in the UK. There was a large body of anecdotal evidence showing that incidences of violence against women and girls have risen sharply since the start of the economic recession and the impact of public sector cuts on domestic violence support services. This is supported by evidence from Greater Manchester Police. Participants had concerns about the lack of resources attached to awareness raising and prevention work and the increasing sexualisation of women and girls in the media and mainstream of society. Participants felt that more work needed to be done in schools to challenge gender stereotypes and sexist bullying and this should be built into the national curriculum. There were also particular concerns about BME women and children with no recourse to public funds who experience a stark choice between staying in a violent relationship, becoming destitute or being deported as they have few rights to access refuges and domestic violence support services.