Empowering Women Project Mentor and Wellbeing Co-ordinator
Hi I’m Orla, I have a very specific role which is to work with women who are ready to think about paid employment or have started through the Just Works programme.
I’m currently working with 11 women. I work in a person-centred way. What does that involve? The aim is to help them feel in control of their lives and their future.
All of them have had times when other people have controlled their lives in one way and another and because of this experience there is a fear about it happening again and again. So, we are helping them to change that cycle and doing all we can to ensure they know they can have control over their lives.
I meet with the women regularly but I’m also at the end of the phone so even if we aren’t due to meet we can deal with situations that come up. It may seem hard to imagine but it takes while a while to get used to the freedom of everyday life after things like long term homelessness or having enslaved or trafficked or in an abusive relationship. Skills that can be taken for granted need to be relearned or experienced anew.
We talk about loads of different things such as how to deal with feelings of anger or how to budget or it may be someone is nervous about going to the dentist because they haven’t been for years. We are helping people to think differently about their current situation and how they take care of themselves in that moment. Instead of nothing being possible there is a freedom to look at the world as a place of opportunity.
Wellbeing is a key part of it. Being healthy helps the mind to be healthier too. But these are options that were out of reach of most of the women I work with in their previous lives. Group activities looking at the body and mind encourage good balanced health.
We utilise sessions such as aqua-aerobics, movement, and qigong, yoga, walking, meditation, creative arts and outdoor work.
Its giving people healthy life options they can then make for themselves. And because they’re doing it with others within the Just Works group, trust is growing too.
All 11 women are employed.
The everyday things we may take for granted are improving. Their accommodation is now a ‘home’, they have a deeper sense of safety, a deeper sense of themselves (without the negative story), a growing sense of where they want to go and what they want to do.
From the project’s perspective each day of growth is a step towards a more stable and happier life.