Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Raising money to keep services open - the Heba example

In June 2010, more than 30 women walked 10km along the Thames, from WRC member Heba in the East End to Buckingham Palace, and raised over £4000 to help keep Heba’s classes open while they looked for funding to replace what was lost in the recession.

Everyone had a great day and year later Heba is still here! After the success of last year’s walk they have decided to make it an annual thing. This year their aim is to double the efforts and raise £8000 towards a volunteering project.

Heba Women’s Project
is well known and loved in the community as a hub where immigrant women can come to learn, meet new people and increase their confidence. Heba offers accredited classes in English, sewing and computing and finds different ways to help depending on the needs of each woman.

One woman describes the 2010 walk:

I remember Heba women's walk . We raised the Heba flag made by our own hands.

I remember the streets from East London to Buckingham Palace. Crossing Tower Bridge, we saw the Tower of London and I remembered all the stories I had learnt at Heba about the people who built it and were imprisoned there. I remembered Queen Elisabeth when I saw the Tower's gates and again when we passed Shakespeare's Globe Theatre. I remembered the entire nation who worked very hard to get that civilisation and that freedom that we are blessed with.

I do believe that we can work like them and can make a change and leave our finger print. I found that at Heba. Heba is like jewellery on my hands that I don’t want to lose. Heba helps lots of women find their missing jewels.

Other women today are in need of someone to take their hand. They are suffering in silence. Their lives can change if we don't forget them.

Another woman explains why she is going to walk 10km for Heba in 2011:

I came to the UK because of my husband. I had been a teacher in my country and I wanted to restart my teaching career here. I just wanted to be useful in this country and not let my skills go to waste but first I needed to learn English. I looked for English classes everywhere but there are so many restrictions on who can have free classes and I didn’t have any money. Finally, I enrolled in a beginner class. It was much too easy, but I was desperate to do something with my time.

Luckily, a woman in the class told me about Heba, that there was a wider range of classes there, for everyone. I went along and was put in a class at my level and given help with my computer skills too. But it didn’t stop there. Through my teachers, I found out about so many other courses that I had access to and was able to start three volunteer placements in the local area. This gave me valuable experience, motivation, and the feeling that I was finally able to give something to the community. Best of all, one of the placements was as a teaching assistant in a primary school. Through this placement, I gained my Level 2 childcare NVQ and was taken on in an official capacity. I am now working as a full time teaching assistant and I love the job.

If it hadn’t been for Heba, there is no way I would be in this position today.”

If you want to join the Heba Women's Project's 10km River Walk on Sunday 19th June 2011 at 2pm contact Anne on 07960 124 262 or anne@heba.org.uk or Anne or Afia on 0207 377 0400.

If you want to find out more about how Heba organised the walk and about other ways that you can fundraise to support your organisation and services see the sustainable fundraising pages on the WRC website.

Monday, 16 May 2011

Strengthening Women's Voices in Government

By Rebecca Veazey, policy officer

The Government Equalities Office (GEO) is currently consulting around women's engagement with government and the new gender architecture that will replace the Women's National Commission, seeking appropriate ways for the government and Ministers to engage with individual women and women's organisations and strengthen their voices in government.

In recognition of the importance of the GEO's consultation; the WRC hosted an event with its members on Friday 13th May, bringing together a diverse range of women’s organisations to discuss the GEO's plans and the key issues impacting on the women’s sector.

As part of the event; attendees discussed the key challenges affecting women's organisations and how we can address them together, along with strategies for engagement with the GEO and ways in which women's organisations could work collaboratively in the future.

In the morning session, organisations discussed the GEO strategy in detail and then compiled a set of questions to ask representatives from Government. In the afternoon Helene Reardon-Bond, Director of Gender Equality Policy and Inclusion at the GEO, kindly attended and took questions from WRC members for more than an hour and discussed their key concerns.

Members reported that the event was a real success as it allowed them to express their views to government officials and to come together as a sector. Participants commented that they hoped to engage with one another more regularly and support strong channels of communication with Government.

To that end WRC strongly encourages all members to respond to the GEO consultation, as it provides a vital opportunity for women's organisations to have their say about government engagement and key policies impacting on women.

The consultation is open until 10 June 2011 and can be responded to through an online survey or alternatively organisations can submit a more detailed response by emailing:

The WRC is supporting consultation events in other regions in order to give a more detailed picture of the opinions of the women's sector in the UK. If you would like to feed into WRC’s response please complete our online survey or email charlotte@wrc.org.uk, the deadline for responses to the survey is Monday 23rd May

To support organisations to respond the WRC will be producing a template consultation response which will be available on our website from Thursday 26th May. To read our briefing on this topic please go here.

Also here are the links for further information on the GEO consultation and to view the consultation document in full.