In celebration of International Women’s Day, we’re shining a light on some of the ways women are pushing boundaries and driving change in their communities.
We’re lucky to meet many brilliant women through our work at Semble. Here we recognise 8 of these community leaders and celebrate the impact they’re having in their local areas and beyond; championing women’s rights and redefining the role of women in society.
We asked these 8 changemakers for their views on the unique contribution women bring to community action. Get ready to be inspired!
Georgina Wilson – BUD
Through her brainchild BUD, Georgina is on a mission to empower a bunch of new leaders pushing for positive change through informative workshops and coaching programs. Far too often, people with amazing ideas don’t have access to the tools, skills or confidence to see them realised. BUD makes leading change accessible to all and Georgina’s passion for empowering others is infectious!
Women are strengthening their voices together and driving change in the community sector by empowering each other, creating opportunities to collaborate and speaking out about the changes needed for a more fair and equal society. However we are not just talkers, we are doers, we are relentless, we are mothers, we are sisters, we are friends, we are members of our community and we recognise that we deserve to see change.
Sophie Unwin – Remade Network
Inspired by living in rural Nepal and creating less than a dustbin of rubbish in a year, Sophie started Remade with the vision to build a community-based repair economy. With two successful maker-spaces in London and Edinburgh creating repair jobs and breathing new life and creativity into things destined for landfill, she turned her vision into a proven model, winning UK Social Entrepreneur of the Year 2017. Corresponding to local need and empowering local communities is at the heart of Sophie’s vision and the Remade model.
Women are often at the heart of the community sector – I think that they are well placed to see the needs of local people, both in their professional and personal lives. Leadership can come through listening and dialogue as well as action and I think that women, who are often forced to modulate their own voices, are particularly strong at bringing different groups in the community together and being sensitive to their needs.
Skye Stewart – Black Country Fusion FC
The goal and ethos of Black Country Fusion FC is equality in sport. Skye founded the club as the first LGBTQ+ inclusive football team in the West Midlands Sunday League and has taken it from strength to strength. Her main aim is to promote equality for the LGBTQ+ community. She believes that by promoting equality she can empower all the club’s members. “This club was built on the values of inclusiveness and we welcome anyone from any background to join”.
Women are driving the change in the community sector by following their passions and dreams, by saying we are no longer gonna fit into a stereotype of what a woman is perceived to be. We are gonna go out there and create change.
Gabby Edlin – Bloody Good Period
Gabby started Bloody Good Period because a healthy menstrual cycle shouldn’t stop anyone from participating fully in society, or indeed in life. What started as a whip-round on Facebook is now a growing charity fighting to create a sustainable flow (pun intended) of menstrual products for those who can’t afford to buy them in communities across the UK. The work that Gabby and others are doing to push society towards Period Equity is crucial in the fight for equality.
Women get shit done, but that’s how we’re raised. Caring for others is practically inbuilt into how many of us are raised (and I’m pretty sure it’s nurture not nature). We’re also the most adversely affected by unfair policy and austerity.
Yasmin Akhtar – Go-Woman! Alliance
Yasmin is passionate about creating safe and inclusive spaces in which women can grow and flourish. She set up Go-Woman! Alliance CIC (GOAL) to create these spaces; empowering women to learn from and teach each other. Through one GOAL project – the DOSTI group -she aims to engage the most hard-to-reach and isolated first-generation immigrant women in her local area – a group that traditionally engages less with community initiatives due to cultural barriers. Yasmin is working to bring every person together in a community for all.
There are amazing women in the community sector working against all odds to create a safe environment for others, enabling women to unleash their true potential. These women have passion and commitment. It’s this approach that is required to work outside the traditional boundaries to meet the needs of the community they serve. We continue to learn every day from the women we work with.
Cat Ross – Baby Basics
Through Baby Basics, Cath supports vulnerable mums and families, giving children a safe space to sleep and the practical things they need for their start in life. Child poverty is a major problem here in the UK and this under-appreciated issue adversely affects women. By providing basic care for young children, Baby Basics alleviates some of the vulnerabilities that cause exploitation of mothers experiencing poverty.
Cat is a tour de force in the community scene and someone we were lucky enough to have on the Semble team.
I’ve worked in the charity sector for 20 years and I have seen an increase in female leadership over the last few years. There is something incredible about women empowering women. In all areas of society women are fighting for the rights of women and encouraging each other to be strong, to be themselves and support each other. Women have unique skills to offer to other women. Let’s raise each other up, support each other and never knock anyone down.
Hayley Jennings – Help Homeless Believe
With other volunteers, Hayley hands out hot food and vital supplies to homeless people on Saturday evenings in the centre of Bristol. Semble recently worked with Hayley to distribute 100 emergency winter survival kits – bags full of socks, underwear and thermals. Hayley set up this project with the aim of changing peoples’ perceptions around homelessness and to give those without a home a voice. She spends much of her time building trust and friendships within the homeless community and training volunteers to work alongside her.
I think women centred projects are a gift. I am proud to be a female-led charity. I would say to other women, believe in yourself, and do not mold yourself into what you think others may want to see.
Sophia Kyprianou – Crafternoons
Through Crafternoons, Sophia creates nurturing spaces in the Northampton community to practice creativity and self-care, supporting positive mental health. She wants us to rethink how we can support each other’s mental health in a creative and positive way that is accessible for all.
I’ve learned a lot about collaboration. I have found this to be key when working in community-led action, there is so much strength in communities and this can add so much. The women I have worked with in the sector all have one thing in common, belief! Belief in wanting to make a change, bring people together and to put this belief into action.
Want to hear more from brilliant women driving change?
We asked these wonderful women and more to share lessons they’ve learnt from working in the heart of the community.
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