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Archive for March, 2016

Because I am a girl…

women of voice

A night of spoken word and music defined an Orchestrated Act of Kindness this International Women’s Day.

Orchestrated Acts of Kindness is a London based group who organise acts of kindness, both big and small, with the intention of making people happy.

For International Women’s Day OAKS chose Housing for Women to be their beneficiary. Housing for Women is an 80 year old London based charity that supports women who have experienced domestic abuse, and other challenges including trafficking and incarceration.

The Ritzy hosted this event that was aptly named ‘Women of Voice’. Entertainment was provided through an all-female line-up of musicians and spoken work.

One of the acts featured was Poetic Pilgrimage; a female Hip Hop and Spoken Word duo whose work covers a range of issues including identity, global politics and women’s issues.poem

Orchestrated Acts of Kindness raised £247 for Housing for Women at the event and a poem commenting on what it means to be a girls was created by all of the women featured at the event.

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Greenwich Celebrates Strong Women

Her Centre Hope and GDVA staff teams IWD 16

More than 70 women came together in Greenwich to acknowledge the achievements of women and to celebrate International Women’s Day.

Her Centre and Greenwich Domestic Violence and Abuse Services (GDVA) hosted this event on the 10th March. The theme was the celebration of strong women and the event included a range of engaging speeches and varied workshops. One of the speakers was Eleanor Lisney, from the United Nations Consultation Group on Women and Poverty and the focus of her speech was on the impact of austerity cuts on women. This gave the women in attendance the opportunity to learn more about how broader issues impact on them specifically. Marta Ciok, of the Greenwich Users Steering Group, spoke about how women who have experienced domestic violence can attend the group and can help identify gaps in provision and influence local service quality.

The practical workshops at the event were lively and included self-defence classes, confidence building sessions, and peer support groups. There were also free pampering sessions available, with students from Shooters Hill College providing free head and hand massages to the women.

“An event like this is so important” said the Manager of GDVA Judith Banjoko, “it brings women together to better understand the situation that they live in, and empowers them to act upon it”. Stacy Smith, Her Centre Director, said “This event is aimed at encouraging local women to celebrate what we accomplish in our everyday lives, and how women volunteers give so much back to the community.”

As another International Women’s Day passes for another year it is great that women in Greenwich were given the opportunity to learn more about the challenges facing women, and the opportunities that exist to overcome these challenges.

 

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Five weeks with Housing for Women

Read about the experiences of one of our student interns who spent five weeks working about Housing for Women last summer.

 

I’ve been writing this post for what seems like forever, and I fittingly completed it on International Women’s Day!

Last year I applied for an internship through the Student Hubs Social Impact Internship Scheme and upon being accepted, I was placed as a social housing intern with Housing for Women.

Housing for Women is an organisation who, to quote their website, work to empower women through providing good homes and services and challenging inequalities faced by women.

I was on the supported housing desk, hence my official title being supported housing intern, where I was given various tasks, including completing research to update the business plan, meeting with service users to create case studies for fundraising purposes and over-the-phone surveys to analyse the efficiency with which the organisation is running and the impact it is having on its users.

Working for such an organisation and on this desk specifically was as much emotionally draining as it was and incredibly eye-opening experience.

During my first week I spent most of my time undergoing research, a flowery way of saying finding out just how disadvantaged women are in a developed, and seemingly progressive, country. To compare recent statistics (2013-15) to 2000-2012 and realise that most of the change is on a scale of very little to none was depressing. And to then think of all the cuts being made to women’s organisations, specifically domestic violence services, I feel helpless in having time to do nothing more than offer solidarity to all these women affected. It could affect any one of us [women] at any point and the lack of services to fall back on is astonishing, the services that are surviving are vital and are increasingly being put under pressure.

The women I was so lucky to meet, whose stories I would love to share but respectfully will not, could not stress enough how crucial a role Housing for Women played in building them to bounce back from their experiences – be it through providing safe housing, essential support or just being there at a difficult time. These women offered nothing but praise towards their support workers, and their support workers offered them nothing but praise because “[our] roles cannot be fulfilled without being met by the efforts and determination of these strong women.” but the women insisted it was more the tireless efforts of their support worker.

This praise was often sung by women I surveyed over the phone, who placed emphasis more on the support they receive from staff than the quality of housing itself – though they were equally grateful for both.

It was through this internship at Housing for Women that I saw first-hand how great a job women’s services are doing, and how crucial it is to advocate for the saving of these services. Their decreasing number can only help a limited amount of women to do so in a manner that truly positively impacts them.

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Human Trafficking Case Study:

In March 2016 Mira*, a Housing for Women Re-Place Project service user, was interviewed by the musician Scroobius Pip for Comic Relief. This interview was made into a podcast about the realities of the experiences of a survivor of human trafficking. It is an incredibly harrowing listen, but also eye opening and inspirational.

If you would like to listen to the interview please follow the link below:

Listen to the podcast here

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