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Inspirational women honoured at Anawim award ceremony

Anawim Awards July 2017

There was scarcely a dry eye at Anawim on 18 July 2017, as the charity held its fourth award ceremony. The hall was full as Lei took to the stage to perform a dance interpretation of the hymn, Amazing Grace. Anawim’s Chief Executive, Joy Doal, then introduced the ceremony. The day, she said, was all about the women and recognition of their inspirational achievements and resilience. Like a butterfly unfurling its wings, the women’s talents have been brought out by an exceptional team of staff and volunteers.

The clinical psychology team talked about some of their successful programmes. The REDD programme helps women regulate their emotions and deal with distress. The seeking safety programme helps women overcome trauma and substance abuse. One woman talked about her journey from being, in her words, broken, to finding she had hidden strengths and talents. Another spoke eloquently to the packed hall, admitting that a year ago she could not have got up on stage. A third had wanted to give up, such was her anxiety, but the group sessions had given her courage and strength. And a fourth, who had suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, said the programme had got her back into work after seven years on benefits.

Solihull College works with Anawim to deliver functional skills training in English and mathematics. College lecturers talked of successes, such as a woman now able to write to her landlord and MP about her living conditions, and a 100% pass rate in maths. The course, the women said, was as much about getting together to improve confidence and as the core subjects of literacy and numeracy.

Bournville College delivers the parenting course for Anawim. These can be traumatic for some women, who may have been separated from their children. As well as learning from the teacher, students share tips with each other. Some women have been reunited with their sons and daughters thanks to the course.

/media/news/library/awards-170718-lei-dancing-cropped-for-web.jpgAfter a musical interlude from the newly formed Anawim choir, singing I believe I can fly, the prison and outreach team talked about Dawn House. Dawn House is the new six-bedroom residential building, which also includes a crèche staffed by a family support worker.

The volunteers were praised for their contribution. Some volunteers were previously supported by Anawim, and are now ready to move on to work or university courses. Several volunteers work on reception, which has recently been improved thanks to funding provided by Fr Dominic at SS John and Monica’s Catholic Church. Anawim has also received funding from the Police and Crime Commissioner, to support early intervention work.

Anawim provides money advice. In the last year alone, this has generated £130,000 worth of benefit to the women. The charity also provides counselling. Six volunteers provide talking therapies in the background, while women are attending courses. The effect can be dramatic, with one woman given the confidence to enrol in college and become student of the year.

The women at Anawim have been key to its development and have worked together to create Flip the Script. This programme helps women speak and think more positively about themselves. One example given of Flipping the Script is the way we think about the future: it can be dangerous and unknown; alternatively it can be an endless source of positive possibilities. The women involved have shared their life experiences as a way to educate one other; they have become engaged politically, with some voting for the first time this year; and they have been volunteering at other organisations and charities.

Perhaps most moving, however, were the awards themselves. Certificates were presented to women completing between one and seven courses. One woman said this was the first certificate she had ever received. Volunteers Michaela, Fareeda and Angela received a joint award for being volunteer of the year, while the staff member of the year award went to Sarah Golding, with Caron and Janet joint runners up. A special award went to Sister Enda, for an amazing 25 years of service at Anawim and 50 years with the Sisters of Our Lady of Charity.

Anawim WWT (Women Working Together) is 31 years young, with the newest building, Dawn House, opening just last year. The centre provides a holistic service to women across the city of Birmingham. Anawim is an Aramaic word meaning the poorest, the outcast, the persecuted; those with no voice. Anawim WWT opens its doors to the outcast, and gives a voice to the voiceless. Father Hudson’s Care has supported Anawim since soon after its foundation by the Sisters of Our Lady of Charity.

Further actions:

  • Visit the Anawim page on this website
  • Buy the book, a Fair Cop, on a century of women in West Midlands Police. A third of the profits go to Anawim.

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