The incredible journeys of nine inspiring women from the southside of Glasgow were recognised by Scotland’s First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon during a special International Women’s Day Event, at Pollokshaws Burgh Hall on Friday 6th March.
All nine women who received a Community Achievement Award from Glasgow Kelvin College have overcome incredible challenges, such as domestic abuse, addiction, financial hardship and isolation. With support from charity Children 1st and each other they are using the skills and confidence they have gained from their experiences to give back to other families in their local communities.
Award winners include Siobhan Griffen whose family were supported by Children 1st to recover from alcohol use and mental health issues. Siobhan used the confidence and parenting skills she had developed to become a Volunteer Parent Mentor for the charity, before starting a Parent and Toddler Group. The highly successful group has been running in Castlemilk for 16 months supporting families where parents are in recovery or experiencing mental health issues.
“Our Castlemilk parent and toddler group is a safe space, where parents can feel comfortable sharing their worries and reaching out for support.
Because my family have been there, I understand first-hand what the families who come to the group are going through. When I first met Children 1st my partner was in recovery, I was looking after my three little girls and I felt very isolated, had no confidence and had lots of anxiety. In the last two years the support of Children 1st and their Women 1st group have helped my family to overcome our ongoing issues, to move forward with our lives and to be there for others in a similar situation.”
Anna Gordska who moved to Scotland from Poland ten years ago received an award for her work with Children 1st’s peer mentoring group Women 1st, helping to organise the Inspire event, where the awards were given out.
“When I came to Scotland, I didn’t speak English so it was difficult to meet other Mums. Everybody at Women 1st made me very welcome and was patient, allowing me to practice my English and to understand them. I have made new friends from all walks of life at Women 1st. They appreciate my baking skills, enjoy hearing about Polish culture and they help me if needed.
Now I can help my daughter with her homework and talk to other Mums at the school gates. When my son starts school, I would like to become a volunteer with Children 1st.”
Jacqui McDougall, one of the founding members of Women 1st, received an award for her ongoing work to support and grow the group.
“Although many of us in Women 1st have previously been supported through challenging times by Children 1st, our group is for anyone in the south side of Glasgow. We are all very different ages, multicultural and value the peer support we get.
I’m a kinship carer in my 60’s and have been looking after two of my grandchildren for 11 years. Women 1st is an amazing group to be part of, I’ve formed brilliant friendships and feel I always have someone to talk to when times get tough. Learning how to fundraise and help in the group has helped to boost my confidence, it’s helped me to have a purpose. We raise our own funds to support ourselves and have done fundraising to plan activities, go on trips and provide holiday clubs for the whole family during school holidays.”
Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister said:
“These awards are a perfect way to celebrate International Women’s Day. They recognise the amazing courage and achievements of the award winners in overcoming many of the challenges they have faced. These women are an inspiration and I’m delighted to be part of this Children 1st event.”
Mary Glasgow, Chief Executive, Children 1st said:
“A huge congratulations to everybody who has achieved a community award and been involved in such an inspiring and empowering celebration of International Women’s Day.
The stories that have been shared today demonstrate just what an incredible difference it makes to children’s lives to support their families and empower their communities. It is fantastic to see their skills and confidence of the women, Children 1st have been working with grow. I want to say a huge thank you to them all for the difference they are making to children and families across the southside of Glasgow.”
Kirsty MacDonald, the Glasgow Kelvin College community learning worker who supports the group, said:
“The Community Achievement Awards programme allows the College to work alongside partner organisations to build capacity into their staff, volunteers and service-users.
The accredited qualification supports people to plan and record their role in community activities and reflect on the impact they have on other lives. These remarkable have worked incredibly hard in often challenging circumstances to achieve their Awards and it’s been inspirational working with and supporting them. We hope that this experience will give them the confidence and skills to progress in their lives and in their new lifelong learning journey.”
Other awards went to Rosemary Carroll, Chinenye Mgbeahuruba, Sandra Slipper, Alina Vilakazi, Helen Croly and Martha Abassi. They received the awards at Inspire, an event organised for over 120 women who wouldn’t normally have the opportunity to attend an International Women’s Day celebration. Women 1st worked with Children 1st to organise the Inspire Event because they wanted other women to feel hope and see that it is possible to face difficult circumstances and, with the right support, to recover.
As well as hearing from First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, guests also heard from River City Actress Libby McArthur, and Anne Hughes from Sunny Govan Radio and enjoyed entertainment from the Rays of Hope Choir and the Scottish Bhangra Mascot Dancers and Dhol Drummers. Event sponsors included: Greggs, Collins Debden, Allbeauty.com, Glasgow Health and Social Care Partnership, The Sarwar Foundation.