Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Navigating support - why so complex?

At the Halesowen Asian Elders lunch event yesterday I spoke to women involved in setting up Anisa - a network for women in Lye who want to work with others to tackle islamophobia. I was asked what support Dosti coud give, perhaps with business planning or community cohesion funding. In relation to those activities I signposted to Dudley CVS and public sector partners respectively. I'm still a little stuck as to what support Dosti could, or should offer. The group already have links to the Interfaith network and Centre for Equality and Diversity - so what is missing from the mix of support for such work? We would welcome members of the group to any of our training and networking sessions, and will ensure they are invited to them. But I still feel as though something is missing. Should we be better co-ordinated in terms of what support is provided, and also have a way to work with such groups so that they determine what support they need/want and when? Are commuications between infrastructure and other support organisations lacking, or is there some kind of support missing? Hmmm.... something to ponder on further.

Saturday, 17 July 2010

Getting Involved and Taking Part

This Wednesday I heard amazing and inspirational stories from women whose lives changed as a result of thier participation in active citizenship learning programmes which have been running in the area since 1998. 'Getting Involved and Taking Part' was a networking event hosted by the Black Country Take Part Pathfinder, and involved women and men from at least 8 different courses (I lost count!). It was fantastic, and moving, to hear again from Nusrat, who I had heard speak at the Pathfinder launch event last year. I also enjoyed hearing people I know, Saffi, Sue and Geeta, sharing their journeys. We also heard from Amita, who was visiting from Zimbabwe and is running women's leadership courses there. Amita was a participant in an active citizenship course in Wolverhampton many years ago.

Having participated in a Women Take Part course through the pathfinder I related to much of what the women told us. We also looked at women's journeys in relation to involvement in public life. Four stages are suggested: not being there, getting there, being there and staying there. Everyone in the room seemed to relate to the various stages and we discussed the barriers which make involvement in public life difficult for people, due to gender, 'dis'ability, ethnicity, education, class and so on. Information on women's journeys can be found at

The session was inspiring thanks to the stories people shared, yet disheartening when one begins to consider all the barriers that have to be overcome before all those amazing but oppressed people out there in our communities can become an active part of public life.