Wednesday, 23 November 2011

'Speed dating' for women's orgs in Waltham Forest

Last week Women’s Resource Centre, in partnership with Voluntary Action Waltham Forest, held a very successful funding seminar in the London Borough of Waltham Forest.

Co-ordinated by Voluntary Action and the WRC development team, the half-day event brought together organisations, groups, networks and projects that have woman-centred services from across Waltham Forest.

This was the 15th borough funding seminar that the WRC has planned with local CVSs across London. They are organised as part of a project which aims to help women’s organisations understand and explore their options to diversify their funding and assist them in becoming more sustainable. It is also an excellent forum for networking.

Our "speed-dating" style structured networking session got the day off to an enthusiastic start. This energy was maintained throughout the seminar with presentations from a local commissioner, women who work in the borough of Waltham Forest and members of the WRC communications, policy and development teams.

Speakers from the WRC spoke about how to start exploring partnerships, social enterprise, raising funds for individual donors as well as the important of utilising policy and human rights tools to enable women working in the community to get their voices heard. It was inspiring to hear about the experiences of Shaminder, from the Ashiana Network and Sharon, from Waltham Forest Women's Network. Both emphasised the need for community and voluntary groups to share ideas and resources, consider entering into partnerships or forming consortia to represent women's needs in the area and lobbying for effective services.

Claire Witney from Waltham Forest council spoke to the group about how to prepare for the commissioning process. She also talked about the effects of the cuts, particularly how the local boroughs are looking more at data and statistics to make funding decisions, it isn't just about a well-written proposal. This is clearly a massive issue as women may be working with a group who, as of yet, do not have any data to support their cause.

Throughout the event the message that came through most strongly for me was the need for women to come together and share their stories. It is through talking to one another about our experiences and it can give us the strength we need in an era of increasingly destructive cutbacks and competitive tendering

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