Empowering Women

Recently, Labour MP Jess Phillips won special dispensation from the Deputy Speaker of the House of Commons to b real time limits and read out a list of over 100 women killed by male violence over the past year.

The list of names was supplied by Karen Ingala Smith from the Counting Dead Women Project.

A few things struck me:

  1. First, how sad it is that there is a need for Counting Dead Women Project.

2. A number of the women on the list read out by Jess would have likely experienced months/years of anxiety, depression, feelings of worthlessness and hopelessness or being abused in their own homes as well as on the streets

3. Why aren’t we more shocked about the violence experienced by our mothers, sisters, daughters?

It is a huge problem with no easy, one size fix solution. For me, in situations of domestic violence, empowerment and self belief is key. No one can move forward when they believe the negativity drip fed to them over time by their abuser(s).

I have delivered empowerment components to all participants of the employment programmes I’ve compiled from the Real Apprentice to Growing Talent. Throughout lockdown, I’ve delivered various workshops voluntarily including empowerment to clients of JobCentre Plus.

In these workshops we discussed:

  • Definition of empowerment
  • What stops us moving forward
  • Dealing with procrastination
  • Personal roadmap
  • Identifying your purpose
  • Selfcare toolkit

Feedback on the workshops included:

“This workshop helped me change and adapt a more positive mindset to navigate the hard times in life” Chui Yen

“I learned that we should not be afraid to take risks, face our fears no matter the circumstances and to not hold back.” Elizabeth P.

“The atmosphere was relaxed and hearing the facilitators experiences put things in perspective. The session was very clear and stuck to the point.” Karen

“I loved the session. In 2 hours a huge amount of thought provoking points.” Magda

” I have learnt new techniques to empower myself” Malie

“I will definitely be adopting the tools shared – affirmations, 5 second brain hack etc” Samantha

“The workshop was a good confidence boost and gave me alternative ways of looking at things. I gained more knowledge than I expected to” Trish

Out of these energising, interactive workshops, a request to form an on-going Womens’ Empowerment Network Group was requested. The inaugural one takes place tomorrow.

For me, building women’s self-confidence and self-worth is key to their empowerment to leave toxic relationships. Big journeys start with one single brave step.

Of course women’s empowerment is just one tool to improve society’s safety.

Thriving together.

Want to be a published author?

I know many people harbour a desire to write and publish for many years. Some never write their book(s) – let alone publish.

On the face of it, publishing book seems so difficult to do, when actually there is a lot of supportive websites the give step-by-step guidance.

For me, I just wanted to be able to say I’ve written a book and anyone can buy it – not necessarily make lots of money and/or get a best seller. It was just a personal goal I set myself about three years ago and took a look at every now and then adding extra bits here and there.

Lockdown in March 2020 was a period of reflection and determining some goals to achieve in the coming years.

One of these was to get a book published by the end of lockdown – although, I never expected this would be over a years later!

From my work over the last twenty years, my own personal experiences coupled with the pressure of lockdown on many people from diverse backgrounds, I realised what I had to say could be really helpful to some others who, like me years ago, want to change their lives but don’t know how or where to start.

I finished my book in early 2021 and asked some people who I knew had been through challenging times to read it. Both said it was inspirational and gave real steps and ideas people can utilise.

Thankfully, Kindle Direct Publishing, owned by Amazon, made it really easy from designing a cover to formatting the manuscript into hardbook, paperback or kindle versions. You can easily link the different formats which is so important to be inclusive to all pockets.

Of course, I really wanted a printed version to keep for myself. I selected the print quality, colours, size etc ad will make 79p for every paperback sold! Whilst it’s not as tactile as a paperback, the Kindle version is a great option for many.

It’s said everyone has a book in them. If, like me, you harbour an idea to publish, set yourself a challenge to do so. Believe me, it’s such a great feeling when you see it on the screen for others to buy if they want to.

L’enterprise des Possibles

Watching French24 tv, I was heartened by the amazing work French billionaire Alain Merieux has achieved. He set-up L’enterprise des Possibles or Company of Possibilities just two years ago.

In the interview he explained why he chose to set-up this initiative up at the age of 80. Looking back to his childhood – which many of us seem to do as we get older, he noticed there was no homeless when he was a child. People shared what they had and took care of each other. Over recent years, he noticed that caring and sharing has been lost and homelessness is everywhere. The same could be said of countries around the world.

Alain’s idea was to join businesses with homeless charities. Companies and their employees could donate their time, annual leave or volunteer for the charities to make a real long-term difference.

Over the two years L’enterprise des Possibles has been operating, 60 companies have signed up raising over €1.1m and housing 550 people in Leon alone. One of these was a Congalese asylum seeker and her two young children who had been sleeping in fear wherever they could find space in the three years they had been in France. Now she proudly showed the news team around her chalet provided by L’enterprise des Possibles and spoke of her feeling of safety now. One of seven chalets she and her children now had a real support network in which to flourish and rebuild their lives.

The calmness on her face and positivity for the future was inspiring. The woman and her family had literally nothing. Now they have peace, security and a future – how rich is that?

Just as inspiring is Alain. Most 80+ people would be looking inwards, not what they could do for others. In the week that Captain Sir Tom Moore sadly died we are reminded of the amazing difference someone can do, no matter their age or ability, to make a difference and inspire others on what is truly the richness of life.

200 hours completed!

Around May 2019, I saw a news feature with Duke & Duchess of Cambridge launching the 24/7 UK crisis text line Give Us A Shout.

The idea seemed simple and brilliant. Mobile providers waived their fees for texts to this service. Anyone struggling with their emotions from feeling lonely to idealation to complete suicide, any age, could text the word SHOUT to 85258 and get help to take them from a hot moment to a cool calm.

As a completely text service 24/7, those struggling didn’t have to overcome fear or anxiety of speaking to someone via a telephone line. Nor did they have to take part in a video call.

Completely anonymous.

This idea peaked my interest. The new launch was to engage with volunteers to train to go on the platform and support. The training was long and intense.

A coach is assigned from joining Give Us A Shout until a volunteer decides to leave.

This wrap around support for texters and volunteers is unique so I applied and thankfully was accepted.

Starting off as a baby chick (new volunteer) I could only take one texter at a time. The commitment is to give 200 hours to the platform before deciding to leave.

That target seemed light years away and completely unattainable. However, I received the following email from my Coach – I didn’t even realise I passed the landmark!

Congratulations on having spent 200 hours on the Platform.

Thank you for giving so much of your time and empathy to our texters. We really appreciate every second you’ve spent with us on the Platform…….720,000 seconds to be exact!

I’m sure that when you made a commitment to do 200 hours of volunteering with Shout it seemed almost unattainable, and yet you have made that commitment a reality and for that we are all so grateful to you.

We look forward to you continuing to support texters and other Shout Volunteers with your invaluable experience for many more hours to come.

My plan is to continue volunteering as long as I can for this unique service. Feedback shows me, it really makes a difference to those struggling.

I always teach people I work with ‘Never look at big targets. They always feel unattainable. Instead, look at bite sized steps. You’ll soon achieve your end goal and learn so much along the way.’

I know I have.

If you or anyone you know is struggling, no matter the time of day or night or issue that’s on your mind, text the word SHOUT to 85258. Help is there. You don’t need to go on any struggle alone.

Are the quietest achievements the most powerful?

What an uplifting feature in the press over the weekend.  Relative Values featured the author of The War Horse – Michael Morpurgo and his wife Clare talk about their life and work on their Farms for City Children which they set-up over 45 years ago.  The idea was to bring children who live in cities to their farm and experience life – where their food comes from, looking after animals etc.  Over 100,000 children have now spent a week at their farm experiencing a different life to take back to empower them with ideas of different paths they can take.

 

Magical for me was reading how Michael got the idea for War Horse.  A child called Billy was visiting their farm and had trouble speaking.  One night Michael saw Billy had crept out and was stroking one of the horses.  Even more powerful was Billy talking excitedly to the horse and the horse seeming to patiently listen.  A bond was struck up and an idea for War Horse was born.

 

The power of animals and people is long known.  The impact on health and wellbeing is hugely valuable.  I had no idea this author and his wife had changed so many lives over the past 45 years without awards and accolades.  They do it because it’s the right thing to do.

 

How wonderful is that?

The power of journaling

Having worked in the mental health and well being arena for so long, I’ve seen the power of journaling on the mind.  Capturing thoughts feelings, gratitude helps when reflecting back to learn to go forward.

 

But what if you are incapacitated and can’t journal?  Luckily for Mandy she had great nurses who went the extra mile to ensure when she recovered she could ‘fill in the gaps’ on the time lost through being in a coma.

 

 

93 days is a long time to miss from our lives.  We know how frustrating it is the morning after the night before not remembering what we said, did or where we were.  That’s just one night’s loss of memory through over indulgence.  But what about longer gaps like Mandy experienced through Covid-19?

 

The nurses started journaling each day for Mandy to read when she recovered.

 

 

Short entries but with powerful messages.  Now Mandy is home and starting the long recovering back to fitness without the worrying gap of those 93 days.

 

How amazing are our nurses?

Growing Talent 25 has completed…… bring on GT26!

In January, we started off with 40 enthused, unemployed people applying for Growing Talent.  Following the Employer Speed Dating held mid-January, 15 were selected by employers for a 1-2-1 second stage meeting.  Offers were made, some rejected so we commenced Growing Talent 25 with three participants from diverse backgrounds who all shared one thing in common – they wanted to work!

 

Michelle & Tara from PwC joined the session and selected Annarita , below, to join them!

This is a big departure for Annarita.  Following a background in textile design she is now part of PwC’s secretarial community.

 

Kate – a regular recruiter on Growing Talent – from Firmdale Hotels, selected Kerry to join their Haymarket hotel within the housekeeping team.  Kerry is loving the role and already got her eye on progression not to mention the staff perks!

 

Annarita & Kerry – trained first aiders in Mental Health during the holistic part of Growing Talent.

 

Lastly, Sergio and Lina from ISS selected Nazzarriey to join their waste and segregation team.  Naazzaariey – seen below with Kerry is getting used to the routine of working and planning things she can do with her wages….

 

 

We wish them well on their adventures ahead now they have a regular salary coming in…..

Highlights of their journey include:

Awaiting feedback on their excellent Social Enterprise presentation and more importantly the winner!

 

Emma from Unravelling Minds showing how art helps with wellbeing….

 

Lesley mid-flow delivering her 3Rs – techniques for staying healthy in the workplace.

 

This is one of the few times Growing Talent has experienced 100% who started completed and went into work!  Great outcome for all…

 

What does the road ahead hold for them? who knows – but that’s part of the excitement of life – right?

The 26th programme starts in March…. watch this space!

 

The end of Growing Talent for 2019

Our Graduation on 16 December marks the closure of Growing Talent for 2019.  Thanks to the funders, it will be back in 2020 with 6 new programmes confirmed.

 

As we approach closure of this year, I reflect back on the trials and triumphs of 2019 for Growing Talent.

First the trials!

January 2019 we kicked off with the new format of Growing Talent – reducing down the time spent training in the vacant role with the employer from 10 weeks to four.  The Orientation and Holistic weeks remain the same. This has caused a few concerns.  For those people who have multiple barriers to employment, four weeks isn’t always long enough to grow in confidence to be sure the end role is the right role.

JobCentre Plus has been restructured with leads who knew Growing Talent well moved to different roles.  This has meant a vastly reduced support from East, West and North London districts.  Unfortunately, this meant we lost an excellent employer with great roles based around the M25.

With the full roll out of Universal Credit, JobCentre Plus has little contact with unemployed people who just need a confidence boost.  Each JobCentre is authorised to display what posters they want.  With so many of their own Government programmes, Growing Talent posters were never put up!  Therefore, those people submitted by JobCentre Plus often have more barriers to overcome in their quest for employment.

 

Now the Triumphs! – which for me eclipse the trials!

From January – December 2019 we had 34 unemployed people start Growing talent from all social, educational backgrounds.  Out of these, 27 completed Growing Talent and secured their permanent jobs.

 

We had our first father and son success story!  Referred by a friend who secured their role on Growing Talent in 2018, Navin applied and secured his role with Mitie based at Embankment Place.  Navin introduced his dad Nalin to me.  A fascinating career with diverse experience including a long tenure supporting the Sri Lankan High Commissioner to London!  After multiple senior management roles, Nalin decided to retire.  When he realised it was too early and he wanted to return to work, he encountered employers looking at his past experience rather than what he wanted to do now.  After an introduction, Nalin started a night role as hotel manager with Club Quarters.  He told me last week he’s now secured the day role he wanted at another Club Quarters Hotel and is very happy!

 

Bernie who was on the same Growing Talent with Navin, wanted to go to Canada and see a bear.  He told me a few weeks back he’d achieved his dream.  Bumping into the Graduates of Growing Talent and seeing them achieve their goals and grow so much is awe inspiring.

 

I know from the feedback all participants give me at each stage of their journey, Growing Talent has literally changed their lives.

 

The triumphs far outweigh the trials!

 

Dr Brené Brown – B.R.A.V.I.N.G

Brene is a 5th generation Texan who has studied the human psyche for decades. Well respected, her work is used by Mental Health organisations, business leaders and celebrities.

She has published many books and has the talent of being able to explain complex emotions easily for all to see a different perspective.

One such film I found on YouTube really struck a chord with me. She talks about ‘vulnerability being the birthplace of innovation, creativity and change‘. How ironic is it that business all want these three things but not what creates them!

Courage, connection & empathy are all we need to thrive. Brene has devised an acronym which makes human communication/interaction so clear:

B.R.A.V.I.N.G – all of the below is mutual. Simple steps we can all follow

B = Boundaries

R = Reliability

A = Accountable

V – Vault

I = Integrity

N = Non-Judgement

G = Generosity

Check her film out. It may be a revelation for you – it was for me.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=psN1DORYYV0

Brené states ‘Shame = I am bad. Guilt = I did something bad. Shame is a prominent factor in multiple areas – depression, relationships, suicidal thoughts and so on. Empathy kills shame.’ Just connecting with someone in emotional pain makes all the difference.

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