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Cambridge Women’s Resources Centre

Changing the lives of women and their families since 1982

Review 2012

Changing Women’s Lives...

Liz Hide, Chair of Board of Trustees

Forty years after the Gender Pay Act, women still earn and own less than men, and are more likely to live in poverty. They do not have the same independence and financial security that men do, and they are underrepresented in public life. The recession and cuts in government spending will inevitably hit women hardest. The vital work of CWRC in enabling women to respond to economic challenges and improve their, and their families’ lives, is needed now more than ever. The Centre itself has not escaped the funding cuts, and over the last year we have streamlined our structure and activities to enable us to better respond to the coming challenges. The recent changes meant that, regretfully, we have had to lose some staff, and I take this opportunity to thank them for the many years' dedicated service that they have given to the Centre. Their work has made huge positive

differences to women's lives in so many ways, and their legacy will continue in the Centre going forward. These changes have also been challenging for the current staff, and I also thank them for their inspiring dedication, hard work and great ideas. Staff are, by far, our greatest asset, and they are the reason we can continue to support and develop the women that come to us. Thank you! We acknowledge, too, the continued support of our funders, and look forward to working with them to tackle the challenges of the future. Last year over 400 women made use of the training, guidance and support that we offer. Each of these tackled different challenges and , with our help, made positive changes to her life and those around her. It's the personal stories, some of which we touch on in this report, that continue to remind me how important our work is. Long may it continue! 2

Changing Women’s Lives...

Nicky Wrigley, Chief Executive

The last few years have seen many changes at the Centre, and they have provided a valuable opportunity to review the Centre's work and to reaffirm our core values. We continue to be about women working together to provide practical ways to support and empower women, but the way in which we do this will change to reflect the changes in the society in which we work. Our simpler, more effective management structure gives us a stronger voice outside the organisation, and I look forward to continuing to work with our many partners and funders as we go forward. We aim to maintain and develop a working environment where women’s voices are heard and where good ideas can be nurtured, while making sure the Centre's is best placed within our changing sector.


Cambridge Women’s Resources Centre has been changing the lives of women and their families in our community for 30 years. We estimate that since we opened 1982 over 10,000 women have used our services. To celebrate this we have launched our much needed 30:30 vision campaign: We are hoping to capture the stories and experiences of as many women who have participated in the activities at the centre as we can. In addition we are asking women who have used the centre or who share it’s values to fundraise or donate £30. If 1,000 people contribute we will raise £30,000 which is essential to help to secure our future for a further 30 years.

Changing Women’s Lives...

Background CWRC was founded 30 years ago by women in the local community who had the vision of women working together to support, educate and empower one another. Many different projects have flourished at the centre since its conception. Women have learnt new skills, received practical and emotional support, made changes - inspiring them to make life enhancing decisions, creating positive outcomes for themselves, their children and their families. Our team of staff, volunteers and members of the CWRC all value the vision of the CWRC, contributing to a vibrant culturally diverse community. We are constantly reminded that women have much to learn from one another, and are committed to help with providing the resources and support they need throughout their lives.

Are we still needed? In a recent survey 89% of those who responded to our stakeholder survey said that there was still a need for a dedicated women only centre in Cambridge. Job search advice and support English and Maths Basic Computer skills Creche Confidence building Informal networking ESOL Supporting vulnerable women Working with women offenders Volunteer opportunities Internet cafe

88.2% 87.4% 86.6% 93.3% 91.6% 73.1% 80.7% 97.5% 79.0% 79.0% 75.6%

The table on the left shows our current services and how important stakeholders felt it is that we continue to provide

A survey carried out in November 2011 amongst people and organisations working in the field of mental health found that 100% thought that there was a need for dedicated women only services for women with mental health problems. 4

Changing Women’s Lives...

What we have done in 2012 Job Search Workshops English for Speakers of Other Languages Freedom Programme


Information, Advice and Guidance


Make the Best of You

One to One Support

Return to Work Samaritans



Emotional and Practical Support

Internet Café

Informal Drop In On-site Working with Crèche Psychology women offenders Course

Pregnancy testing Anxiety Management

Art Group

Working in Partnership

Craft Skills Share

Volunteering opportunities

New things planned for in 2013 Parenting support

Creative writing

Support for mothers of young offenders

Dedicated support for women with mental health problems

Cambridge women’s Cross cultural friendship group


heritage project Domestic violence support for Asian women 5

Changing Women’s Lives...

Learning Opportunities We provide high quality accredited and non-accredited training to women.

Gaining Skills Our courses enable women from diverse backgrounds to gain basic skills. We offer courses for women in a friendly and supportive environment, often allowing a learner to take their first steps towards a recognised qualification. In the last year we have seen women meet their goals in English, maths, computing, and English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL). This year we also had a group of women learning upholstery, some members of this group have decided to continue with upholstery as a career option.

Growing in Confidence Learning in an all woman environment empowers our learners. They find they can learn vital life skills, explore ideas and achieve goals. Tutors tailor classes to meet individual needs and women learn at their own pace. Learners enjoy the opportunity to share experiences with other women and benefit from the rich cultural diversity our centre offers.

Moving on We know that women see the benefits of their involvement with the centre in many aspects of their lives. Following our courses many women have gained full and part time employment or have gone on to do voluntary work, or further training. After reaching good communication skills in English many of our ESOL learners come back to take further courses with us, and see the benefits in all areas of their lives in Britain. 6

Changing Women’s Lives...

Learning Opportunities Excerpt from letter from a learner “. . . at CWRC I had found focus, direction, recognition of my abilities, a thirst for knowledge and a determination to continue to invest in my own personal growth. The realisation that as an Adult Learner, I had a lot to offer my fellow classmates, that I was seen as an equal and I was celebrated as an adult learner was a great boost to both my learning and confidence.” Kirsty Trigg, Courses Administrator

“ Working at CWRC I have realised how many women there are in Cambridge with many and complex needs. It’s a real pleasure to be involved with a centre which helps women move on with, and sometimes rebuild their lives. ” Comment from Dr Bev Morris, consultant “The Centre offers something special to women. It is a safe and welcoming environment that both supports and challenges learners to realise their potential. The different experiences and skills of all the women, learners and staff, are used to make this a learnerfocused approach”. More than 80%

“I have been happy

More than 90% of

of the people who responded to our survey felt that we should continue to offer courses in our main subject areas.

in this course I feel more confident I would recommend this course for everyone”

our learners say one of the best things about our courses is the friendly and supportive atmosphere


Changing Women’s Lives...

Supporting Women into Work We work in partnership with Cambridge Housing Society who provide a National Careers Service advisor who is based in our centre one day per week for one to one careers advice and who also delivers group sessions to some of our training courses. This year we ran an ESF funded 7 week Return to Work Course and a rolling programme of drop in Job Search Workshops. Fifty two women attended this programme during the year.

Supporting Job Search One to one sessions provide individualised support and advice, giving participants the opportunity to look at options available and relevant to their current position. The Return to Work course provides the participants skills and space to make decisions, plan and prepare for employment. Job Search workshops addressed immediate issues such as interview practice and CV and job application writing.

Progression routes Our job search services give women the skills to use immediately or to prepare for employment when they are ready, often this is dependant on gaining further training or skills through volunteering. For others it is a preparation for when their children are settled in school.

Successful outcome At the Return to Work course Sue revised and updated her CV. She also worked on her confidence and greatly improved her interview skills. In addition Sue made friends with another participant and they supported and encouraged each other in their job hunt. Sue is now happily settled in a part time retail job which fits in with her family commitments, and she is still in touch with her new friend. 8

Changing Women’s Lives...

Supporting Women into Work Comments from women using our services “ I found a job after I had a meeting with the guidance worker, she was the one who helped me to write my CV and gave me tips for my interview (Thank you very much!) “ “ With the help of CWRC I feel more able to plan my own future with confidence! ” “ The Return to Work course was brilliant, I had a wonderful time and it definitely gave me a good idea of what to do when the time is right. But when I am ready I know what to do.” Jo Burton, National Careers Service advisor

“This has been a very interesting and rewarding year, working with a wide range of different women - supporting them in exploring career options and opportunities; and helping them in accessing courses and finding jobs". One of our strengths highlighted in an external assessment: “The enthusiasm of staff to provide a proficient service, demonstrating patience with service users at all times and encouraging their progress and achievement throughout their journey.” There are 2 million ‘stay at home’ mums in the UK. 50% of them would like to work but can’t find a suitable job.

Some of the women seen have never worked; others have lost confidence after a break from work due to ill health or bringing up a family. 9

50% of the women who use the IAG services have English as a second or other language.

Changing Women’s Lives...

Dawn Project The Dawn Project works with women who are in or are at risk of being in the criminal justice system.

Personalised Support The Dawn project offers women information, personalised support and an opportunity to look at aspects of their lives that they would like or need to change. One-to-one and group support addresses a wide range of needs. The project aims to work with women to find ways to break the sometimes chaotic cycle, helping them to increase in confidence and to be able to live safer and more fulfilling lives.

Making Links The Dawn project has built very good partnership relationships with a wide range of cross sector agencies to ensure that Dawn clients are able to access the best and most appropriate specialised support to meet their needs. Many partner organisations meet the women in our centre. Our support strengthens the likelihood of women’s successful outcomes with other support agencies and reduces the likelihood or frequency of re-offending.

Positive Outcomes Jo was signposted through Probation as part of an 18 month supervision order. The Dawn team were able to identify that housing was a fundamental issue relating to Jo’s offence. Through multi agency working, safe and supported accommodation was secured providing opportunities for Jo to establish further positive changes in life. Jo has continued to engage with the Dawn Project, having gained further guidance, encouragement and friendship from within the CWRC community. Jo has not re-offended. 10

Changing Women’s Lives...

Dawn Project Roz Naderer, Development Worker Part of my role is about networking, which involves meeting people out in the community, and everything I do touches other people lives, this adds meaning to my life and work. Since working at CWRC and the Dawn Project I feel part of an ownership, which motivates me in my work, to always look for positive outcomes in all situations that I encounter. Comment from Dawn client:

“Coming to the CWRC through the Dawn Project has helped me change and re-establish my life. It is somewhere that I have been able to begin my life again. It is a really important place for vulnerable women, like myself, to be able to access the support and guidance I received then and continue to receive now. I know it is somewhere I can come back to.” Anthony Owen, Solicitor at TV Edwards “The Dawn Project at CWRC has impressed me beyond any that I have worked with in terms of its lack of judgmental attitude and willingness to work with anybody in desperate need. They care for the whole person... In these days of cutbacks and public indifference to the plight o the most needy the Dawn Project shines a beacon of light creating hope for those for whom all hope has been lost.” More than 250 women have benefited from the services of the Dawn team in Cambridge.

“The service you provide to the community is truly a blessing”


97.5% of stakeholders surveyed felt that we should be supporting vulnerable women.

Changing Women’s Lives...

Other Activities CWRC also offers a variety of other classes and support to women who come to the centre. Volunteers play a key part in the delivery of this provision.

Volunteer run groups We currently have three volunteer groups running in the centre: A weekly Art Group run by Audrey where participants create their own work, participate in community art projects and explore famous artists including visits to the Fitzwilliam Museum. A psychology group which has been run by Marion and Margot for 3 years gives women the opportunity to understand more about themselves and their relationship with others. We have a craft based Skills Exchange group which meets one Saturday per month. A variety of skills have been covered but the most popular has been knitting and crochet.

Internet Access Public internet access points in our reception and coffee room are used on a daily basis for a wide range of reasons including job search, keeping in touch with family and friends and for Home Link search and bidding for housing.

Supporting women’s groups CWRC offers space for a Women’s Consciousness Raising Group which meets monthly and for a Lesbian and Bi-sexual Feminist Group which meets fortnightly. Both of these groups are unfunded women’s groups and we are pleased to be able to support them in this way. 12

Changing Women’s Lives...

Other Activities Comments from members of the Art Group “When I first came to the centre, I’d been through a lot. It’s changed my life and helped me move on to who I am today. I didn’t even know I could do art!” (Joy) “The Art Group is lovely, relaxing, friendly - and educational too! Every week I look forward to coming and meeting others. It gives me a real boost.” (Amelia)

Making Links Partnership working is very important to us, it benefits the organisation but more importantly it gives our centre users the best possible options for specialised services. We have formed a number of formal and informal partnerships and engage in relevant local, regional and national networks. We also have a dedicated group of volunteers who ensure that we have a visible presence at many of the key events in Cambridge such as the Big Day Out, Arbury Carnival and Mill Road Winter Fair.


Changing Women’s Lives...

Volunteering Volunteers bring huge added value to the CWRC, making us a more diverse, responsive and in-touch organisation, and offering a springboard for women to develop confidence in their own personal resources.

New opportunities Volunteering roles at CWRC are tailored to each volunteers skills and interests. Current roles include classroom assistance, reception, fundraising, Trustee Board, cake making, supporting women and raising our profile.

Building self belief There are many reasons why women volunteer with us. Some come to use our services and are identified as having the potential to become peer mentors supporting other women experiencing similar issues. Others take courses and realise they have skills that they can use here. Many women who volunteer with us have experienced domestic violence, mental health problems or financial issues and benefit from ongoing support whilst contributing to the work of the centre. For women from overseas it is an opportunity to practice language skills and build a friendship network.

Positive gains from volunteering Our volunteers have found that volunteering has had a wide range of benefits including: learning and developing new skills; increase in employment options; increase in motivation and sense of achievement; sense of being part of a community; putting something back into the centre; meeting a diverse range of people; developing new interests; sharing of life experiences; support and inspiration. 14

Changing Women’s Lives...

Volunteering Noreen Jones, Student, Volunteer and Trustee “ I started coming to CWRC in 2004. Initially I did courses in computing, and have done course in literacy and numeracy. I became a trustee of the centre in 2006 and enjoy coming in regularly to volunteer. I get great satisfaction from seeing women achieve their learning goals.“

Maggie, ex Volunteer—now in employment “ I came to live in Cambridge in April 2010 fleeing domestic violence. I was very distressed and suffering from a lack of confidence. I came to the Resources Centre a week after I arrived in Cambridge. The staff were welcoming and friendly; I found emotional and practical help. After a few weeks I began volunteering for the Dawn Project. I did one day a week, but beginning to regain my confidence I became more involved. I believe the Resources Centre is unique. For me, the CWRC has been a lifeline, not only for helping me regain control in my life, but also I hope a better future. ”

28 volunteers coming to the centre have had direct experience of issues particularly relevant to the Dawn project.

“I think that the CWRC is a wonderful place with wonderful people in it!” 15

55 volunteers have become involved with the centre since 2009.

Changing Women’s Lives...

Crèche The crèche is a central feature of the services we provide, enabling women with children to commit to regularly using our services.

On-site crèche We offer a free on-site crèche for women using our services. For many children it is the first time that they have been away from their mothers outside of the family network. Our crèche offers a safe place for children to interact and play with other children from diverse backgrounds. For many women, knowing that their children are happy and well cared for is an essential part of accessing learning or support services.

Opportunities for children Children receive individually tailored care giving them the opportunity to explore, socialise and learn in a safe and supportive environment. We see children form friendships and grow in selfesteem and confidence. Crèche staff help children to build on their strengths and to try new things.

Moving on By providing structure and learning in a group setting our crèche is good preparation for school or nursery giving children the security they need to make friends and to trust and enjoy new experiences. This gives mothers the confidence that their children will settle well, which in turn gives them the opportunity to look for employment or further training.


Changing Women’s Lives...

Crèche Comment from crèche user

“ Many years ago my son came to the crèche and he was very, very happy here. Over the years the staff have changed but the high standards of the crèche have remained. Now my grandchildren use the crèche and they always enjoy coming. The staff are very friendly, kind and caring, and know what they are doing. If you have a problem you can ask a member of staff and they are sure to sort it out.” Sholeh Rahimi, Crèche Manager “ I am committed to the core principles of CWRC: to support women as well as to provide information in an empowering and nonjudgemental place. ” Rachel Stevens, PBD assessor “ I thoroughly enjoy coming into the setting as it is very obvious that the team works extremely well together, constantly communicating with one another to ensure the care of the children is continuous, meeting individual needs. The cultural diversity is not only supported but celebrated and it is a warm and inviting place to come.”

More than 90% of stakeholders responding to our survey felt we should be offering crèche services to women.

“Your provision of onsite child care is still unique and empowering to women”


Crèche facilities were provided for the children of more than

80 women in 2011 2012

Changing Women’s Lives... In this year we have received project funding from: Skills Funding Agency—to deliver accredited training Cambridge City Council Cambridge and Peterborough Probation Foundation Corston Coalition Funders Cambridgeshire County Council European Social Fund—Community Grants We are members of: GET Group, Cambridge Council for Voluntary Service, Women’s Resources Centre (London), WAVET, Clinks, Cambridge Women’s Voluntary Sector Forum, Women’s Breakout We have worked in partnership with: Peterborough Women’s Centre Cambridge and Peterborough Probation Foundation Cambridge Housing Society Cambridge Rape Crisis Centre Cambridge Women’s Aid Cambridge CAB Addaction Cambridge Samaritans NACRO Illuminate Charity Trussell Trust Food Bank Beson Trust Dhiverse Richmond Fellowship Papworth Trust Making Space


Changing Women’s Lives...

Vision and Mission Statements: CWRC Vision is that all women in Cambridge and beyond realise the potential in themselves, their families and their community.

CWRC Mission is to provide training, activities and support to enable our vision to succeed.

CWRC Aims: •

To increase women’s skills, confidence, motivation and self-esteem To increase women’s employability and their ability to make positive live choices To increase the number of women playing an active role in their communities, increase social cohesion and improve the quality of relationships and social interaction


Changing Women’s Lives...

“ The centre provides support and advice specifically tailored to women's needs locally that they could not get elsewhere in Cambridge.“ “ I think it is really important and so valuable to all women that the centre is there, for times of need and for all the help it gives to women over the years.“ “This is an invaluable resource. Providing space where women are supported and their needs understood. CWRC can help women who have childcare or cultural needs as well as women who may have had negative experiences in education.“

Contact us: Phone:

01223 321148



To contact the board or to enquire about becoming a board member:

Support us by making a donation: Donate by text (maximum £10), JustGiving through our website, or cheque made payable to CWRC. To make your money go further ask us for or download a Gift Aid form from the website

Find out more: 20

CWRC Annual Review 2012  

This review highlights the activities which have taken place at Cambridge Women's Resources Centre in 2012, our 30 year anniversary.