A three-year project delivered by the ACAA Funded by The Pilgrim Trust
‘Challenging Stereotypes – women’s workshops for marginalised Muslim women’ (hereon referred to as the Women’s Project) is a three-year funded project delivered by the ACAA and funded by The Pilgrim Trust.
This evaluation report relates to the third year of delivery: January to December 2019. The third-year report focuses on ‘Stories of Empowerment’, building on year 1 of the project where women were beginning to identify their aspirations, and year 2 where they were starting to set and work towards action plans to make changes in their lives. As in year 2, some of the women were confident enough to present workshops to their peers. These workshops were an opportunity to share knowledge that they had gained through their own experiences of empowerment through the project. The activities funded by The Pilgrim Trust are 10 topical workshops per year as well as individual support for the women.
The ACAA provides a women-only space in which to deliver the project activities. The project uses staff, volunteers and speakers the women attending can relate to and aspire to be more like. Translation is provided in key languages by volunteers where needed. The ACAA is uniquely placed to deliver this work as a grassroots community-based organisation founded and run by those from refugee backgrounds themselves.
In year 3, the total attendance across the 10 Pilgrim Trust-funded workshops was 101 with an average attendance of 10 women. There were 68 individual women registered to the project in 2019. This is a decrease in attendance from years 1 and 2. The Women’s Project was unable to provide the same level of ‘in kind’ support as in the previous two years and this has impacted on the numbers attending in year 3 of the project. In particular, they were no longer able to provide weekly women-only ESOL classes that sustained the women’s engagement in previous years (see year 1 and 2 evaluation reports) – though mixed English classes were available through the ACAA at other times of the week. Alongside this, key staff changes and a move in location in the first half of the year have impacted on the project in year 3. In year 3, the women were from 18 different countries of origin, aged between 17 and 62 years, and 41% had children.
Workshops in year 3 have had a particular focus on the women’s mental health as well as on providing practical information – in order to address issues with confidence, stress and personal wellbeing identified by the women as barriers in previous years of the project. The Women’s Project has achieved its aim of encouraging women to volunteer at events and workshops. Two of the workshops were delivered by project beneficiaries in year 3 where they were able to share their own learning, achieved through the project and beyond, with their peers.
Another aim of the project is to see impacts of the women’s empowerment in their own lives. In year 1, women clearly expressed the desire and intention for these impacts in workshop evaluations and interviews. In year 2, some of these changes were becoming manifested. In year 3, the women have been able to identify tangible stories of empowerment achieved through their time with the ACAA. Some have become volunteers or even staff for the ACAA and beyond. Some are now engaging in college or university study.
To achieve these and other impacts, the women have overcome barriers such as isolation, domestic violence, and a lack of English language and other skills and knowledge needed to be fully integrated.
In year 3, 98% of attendees reported the workshops as relevant to their lives; 94% reported increased knowledge through the workshops; 88% reported they would do something differently in their lives as a result of the workshops.
See report below: