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Tears and laughter at ceremony celebrating inspirational women

Joy giving speech

Anawim honoured dozens of inspirational women at an awards ceremony celebrating their achievements.

At their third award ceremony, women shared stories of trauma and abuse that brought them to Anawim. But more spoke about how Anawim has helped them, how they have changed and grown and how their lives are now.

Anawim Women Working Together helps women caught up in the criminal justice system to turn their lives around. And it was those transformations that were celebrated by everyone present.

Joy Doal, Claire Potter and other Anawim staff gave awards to women who have completed courses that help them take steps forward. Claire highlighted two women receiving nine and ten awards, eliciting loud cheers from the audience.

Courses include Stop and Think, which helps women find practical solutions to their problems. The Self Esteem and Leadership course helps women to see their own value, to see that their lives matter. One woman said that despite her initial scepticism, the course helped her find self-worth. She said, “Suzanne said to me ‘the light will come on’, and it did. Bam! It does work.”

/media/news/library/hector-talking-about-it-course---cropped.jpgAnawim’s only male tutor, Hector, teaches computer skills such as letter writing, creating a CV and online shopping. He said that one woman used her new-found skills to email her MP about Anawim and the work they do.

Talking about the IT course one woman said proudly, “that moment of doing something that you feared – gosh that’s amazing.”

Tutors, clinical psychologists, member of the prison outreach team and others talked about their work. They shared stories of hardship, struggle and eventual success before giving out the awards. 

At previous award ceremonies, women talked about their pasts and what had led them to Anawim. In emotional scenes, they described great abuse and traumas. This wasn’t the case today. Sister Jenny from Our Lady of Charity said “it’s because the women have moved on. They’ve made such great progress that they’re looking forward, not back.”

Shining through at the event was the camaraderie between the women. They encouraged each other to go up to the stage to collect their awards and whooped and applauded loudly. They praised each other's achievements and offered a helping hand or hug when needed. Each woman there showed that women working together can achieve great things.  

Anawim was founded by two sisters of Our Lady of Charity, who continue to support them through financial services. Father Hudson’s has supported them from early on and provides ongoing human resource and recruitment support.

Anawim is 30 years old this year. They are holding a birthday party in the autumn, which includes a silent auction and pledge board. And the new crisis accommodation opens in December, with an opening ceremony to be attended by Archbishop Bernard Longley and Baroness Corston. 

They are appealing for donations for the silent auction and of items for the new accommodation. If you would like to help please contact Anawim on 0121 440 5296 or email Joy on  

To find out more about Anawim, visit

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