Wave of Change Programme
SInce lockdown, things have been pretty different at PIE! Rather than running around the North West going in and out of different locations running programmes for different groups of people, we have instead been working hard from home trying to continue to deliver our sessions remotely!
One programme that we have been running is a bit different than our usual projects... as it has involved working with the women of Stockport on a new support programme aimed at equipping and supporting women in Stockport to move back into work.
A collaboration between purselves and local social enterprise The Goodness Collective, and funded by the WEA ESF fund, the programme started in February 2020, with the focus being to help empower, inspire and build confidence in women across the area to help them not only move back into employment, but also to feel more confident about themselves short and long term. We hoped that in turn this would help them to continue on a journey of self-reflection and development so that the programme had a long term and meaningful impact on all areas of life for the participants.
Our initial workshops were held at Saz Media, which is located in the busy shopping centre of Stockport. The initial plan was that this would give us a central location from which we could introduce the women on the course to a series of opportunities and experiences that would support them in different ways back towards employment. Whilst our plans for delivery have been massively altered due to the Covid 19 pandemic, we have managed to continue delivery throughout lockdown.
Once lockdown came into effect, our founder Beth worked with Simone Callaghan from The Goodness Collective to quickly come up with an alternative plan to ensure that the programme could continue to run despite the changing circumstances. In addition to wanting to ensure the initial content could be delivered, we also felt that it was even more vital to ensure that they were offering both support to women during this challenging time.
The initial plan was to continue with weekly catch up calls, and provide weekly tasks for participants to complete, but that offer was quickly widened to include weekly ‘Coffee and Catch Up’ Zoom sessions to enable the women to continue to connect with their newly established community. We have also developed a closed Facebook groups where women can share their thoughts and work, and even take the opportunity to practice producing Facebook live videos in a safe and supportive environment.
The remote sessions have developed to include weekly video workshops that have been shared with the participants. We have also developed a series of videos from local business women and careers support services to help guide and advise to help develop next steps.
As well as the regular opportunities to connect and weekly online workshops, the adapted course has also included the regular deliveries of packs of activities, resources and treats. These have not only included worksheets and resources for workshops, but also activity packs for children, wellbeing activities, and even an afternoon tea! All of these have been provided by local female entrepreneurs, to ensure that we are not only supporting fellow female entrepreneurs, but also that we are showcasing possibilities and opportunities that are available (and achievable!) for our women.
One of the key barriers that we initially found was the lack of confidence that some of the women had with regards to accessing resources digitally. This was not only due to a lack of knowledge, but also a number of women felt nervous about the sharing of information online and losing control of their security and information. To overcome this, we ran a number of 121 tutorial sessions helping support women through setting up, and using digital platforms such as Zoom. A number of participants have found this particularly helpful, not only to help them to access the course content but also with regards to other activities and social interactions that they have been able to participate in during lockdown following our digital support.
In terms of outcomes, we have already seen huge jumps in confidence and positivity throughout the current cohort. We are now looking at finalising next steps with these women, and hoping to run another programme in the Autumn (hopefully with more face to face delivery!)