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  • Writer's pictureBeth Nunn

What is the Wave of Change?

One of our greatest collaborations is with the Goodness Collective on our Wave of Change Programme! We wanted to shine a light on this success as we draw our third programme to an end, so we spoke to the founder of the Goodness Collective, Simone Callaghan, and her associate Claire Worthington.

Tell our readers about you and the Wave Of Change Programme:

I’m Simone, Founder of Stockport Social Enterprise The Goodness Collective. We support businesses, the third sector and individuals to create meaningful connections to the thing that matter. Whether it is supporting unemployed women to tap into their forgotten passions, supporting businesses to build purpose alongside their profit or assist our third sector partners to make mutually beneficial relationships within the private sector our work is focused around #ConnectedCommunties. If there is a dot to be matched or a spark to ignite, we’re all over it.

Hi I’m Claire part of The Goodness Collective. I have a small business called Village Web Company where I build websites and teach people how to do things online. My role at The Goodness Collective was primarily intended to use my tech knowledge to incorporate a digital element to the work we do. Over time, things have evolved and now I contribute in lots of different areas, but I still usually manage to include digital, simply because it’s now part of everyday life. Whether you are returning to work after a break, running a small community group or planning to start a small business, digital skills can usually help you.

How and why have you adapted the Wave of Change Programme since it started?

Simone: Our Wave of Change programme was born with the assistance of WEA ESF funding and has now been running for over 15 months. From our first physical programme that began just before the first lockdown struck what was planned as a face-to-face project had to quickly adapt to online. It became obvious early on that just pausing the programme wasn’t the right way to go. We had women on our programme who during full lockdown had no other contacts except our weekly zoom calls, engagement in the activities we set and our catch-up calls to check in. We were faced with an extraordinary time but in our heart of hearts knew we owed it to these women to keep showing up. Sharing laughs, concerns, fears and our hopes for the ‘what next’ was what got some of our women out the other side and gave them a focus and support that made it bearable. The same could be said for us too. There was no time to question our zoom abilities or worry about recording our learning sessions, we just had to make it happen and we faced the fear and did it anyway. Practising what we always preach!

Claire: The Wave of Change programme had always included some workshops focused on developing digital skills, but lockdown meant that rather than some specific sessions, Wave of Change became an online programme so there was a need to make sure that our ladies could access our weekly sessions. Did they have email accounts so that we could share information and links to our content? Did they know how to use Zoom? Did they have the confidence to “meet” a group of new people and chat on camera. One of the biggest changes for me was that instead of being the "techy one" that swanned in, delivered targeted workshops and wandered off again, I became one of the mentors and that made a massive difference to me. I feel extremely privileged to have had that opportunity and I have definitely learnt a lot from it.

Can you tell us some examples of when WOC has shown a positive impact?

Simone: One of the women from our very first programme couldn’t read or write. She hadn’t shared that at the beginning but as got comfortable with us let us know that the online learning was going to be difficult. We adapted the activities to ensure she could take part even down to a Fit & Fed community cooking session with The Cherry Tree project. Dropping off all the ingredients and talking her through on the phone the step-by-step instructions. Not only did she get involved it was the first time she had ‘really enjoyed’ a community activity and made an amazing chicken curry out of it too! We even managed to get her to take a photo and send using her phone. Since the course she has stayed connected to some community support we put in place for her and has sorted out a dyslexia diagnosis with that support along with feeling more confident in now accessing some other local activities.

Claire: It is always nice to get positive feedback from anybody that you have worked with, but for me the most powerful feedback is when we have a lady that wants to be part of the Wave of Change, but feels held back by a lack of confidence, for whatever reason, comes to us after a few weeks and says how much we’ve helped her. We always let our ladies go at their own pace, particularly with the digital elements. On our last programme, we had a couple of ladies, who at the beginning, would have to get their husbands to set up the laptops for them, so it was brilliant to see them develop not only their digital skills, but also their independence and confidence in their own abilities.

Not being able to confidently do things with a computer can be a massive barrier for some of our ladies, especially whilst we’ve been running exclusively online. We offer one to one sessions for anybody that isn’t familiar with Zoom, so that their first session is less intimidating for them. It is often easier to try out new skills with just one person. Meeting new people as an adult can be really hard and the idea of having to go online and meet strangers can be quite intimidating, so we reduce as much of that as we can by taking things slowly, letting people have practice sessions and allowing them to take everything at their own pace. We never force any of our ladies to turn on their cameras, until they feel ready to, we’d much rather have everybody taking part and feeling comfortable. A lot of people really underestimate how invasive it can feel to take part in a Zoom session, where everybody on the call, can see you and your home, so we always take our cues from the ladies. This approach has been really successful and has always resulted in our ladies turning their cameras on and it’s really humbling to be told that we’ve played a part in building the confidence for them to do that.

What's your favourite part of the WOC Programme?

Simone: I love seeing the women slowly connecting with one another and the way they encourage and inspire each other. We provide a lot of content on the course and the personalised approach means that women tend to focus on different elements of it at first but the enthusiasm from one or two participants always gives the others a nudge to give it a go too and it means that the women are much more likely to engage in more of the planned programme than us just telling them to do it. The fact they have options and show each other their work and ideas through the Facebook group we create and the zoom calls means they inspire each other to give different parts of the programme a go!

Claire: I love getting to know our ladies and seeing them support and encourage each other. Over the programme they get to share things that are important to them and it is amazing to see the rest of their group get behind them and lift each other up. I also really like the fact that lots of these ladies are developing new friendships with people they met through Wave of Change.

What's been your proudest moment on the Wave of Change programme?

Simone: Wow there’s so many! Apart from mastering uploading videos and working zoom – my personal challenges (haha) it has been to see the women go from strength to strength. One woman in particular was a shell of a woman when she came on the programme and to watch her change and grow it sounds cliched but it was literally like watching a butterfly emerge from its cocoon. She walked taller, spoke more confidently and threw herself into some opportunities that would just never have been an option prior to her taking part in the programme. That was definitely a WOW moment.

Claire: There are so many but my two favourites are: When a lady turns on her camera in a weekly Zoom for the first time and listening to people who boldly announced in week one that they were rubbish with computers and wouldn’t be able to use one properly, casually tell you all the extra things they are now confidently doing on their laptops.

What was your biggest challenge on WOC and how did you overcome it?

Simone: Recruiting women for our programmes has been difficult online. Relying on social media and following up with calls is A LOT OF WORK! Having a place as we did at the very beginning to create a drop in for women to come along and find out more was a whole lot easier but then as our programme is growing in reputation and our previous women our recommending it to their friends and family word is spreading and by close of the 3rd programme recruitment phase we actually had to create a waiting list for the next time around so I’m hopeful we can continue to provide a meaningful and impactful offer for lots of local women over the next 12 months.

Claire: Paperwork isn’t my strong point, so if I forget to get a signature or send paperwork over on time, it makes the administration much harder. As our programme is funded by WEA, the paperwork is really important so I’ve had to get better at it (and I get regular nudges from Beth and Simone from time to time).

What's coming up for Wave Of Change?

Simone: We are starting to recruit for our 4th programme and are awaiting the result of some funding for yet another. This should mean we can support up to another 20 women in the coming months. We will be looking to do more blended learning moving from solely online to creating some opportunities to run some sessions back in the real world – isn’t that exciting! We are also looking to catch back up with our earlier cohorts and create some inspiration days to allow them the chance to connect across programmes and find like-minded women and peer support networks to form. Our ambition is to add in some top up support sessions for some of our women who due to additional needs such as health problems, additional language barriers etc are a bit further away from gaining employment. We have some fab ideas forming about how to provide some follow-on support to give these women the extra help they need to find employment, learning or further training.

Claire: It’s a really exciting time for us. When we first started with our first Wave of Change programme, we didn’t know exactly how things would turn out, but we’re now in a position to be able to reflect on what has gone well and what things we’d like to work on. We’ve had the opportunity to learn from every programme and we’re starting our 4th programme, which is great. A lot of the work that the Goodness Collective does, is based around connection, so in the future it would be great to do some events that include all our ladies, because that would give them opportunities to make more connections and it would help to expand the smaller Wave of Change networks that we’ve been able to create.

How best can we support you?

Simone: We would love you to tell any Stockport women who are out of work (not on furlough) about our programme. We want to give every local woman an opportunity to not just fall into any job but to really connect with their purpose and carve out a future pathway that works for them managing the array of things that can come along with that such as health issues, caring responsibilities, financial considerations. Finding the right next thing means its more likely to fit longer term and work for them rather than against them. Our course offers the opportunity for personal development, skills building and local connection to create a whole system of support. Please feel free to call/ email us for a no obligation chat. There is absolutely nothing to lose but you could gain quite a bit 😊

Claire: Letting people know that the Wave of Change programme exists would be really helpful. We have to rely on our social media for a lot of our publicity and although it is possible to share information online, a lot of the ladies who have been on the Wave of Change don’t use social media. It was really difficult to get the word out when we couldn’t put posters in libraries or run face to face introductory events. Anything that tells unemployed women in Stockport that we’re here would be a big help, even if they meet the criteria but decide that the programme is not for them, we may be able to signpost them to other things.

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