Integrating vulnerable women into the community
Predominantly based in Basildon, Women Together integrate vulnerable women from different backgrounds into the community among a supportive group. Many of their members struggle with isolation, domestic violence or have poor mental health.
Although physical activity was not a prime objective for the group, the social aspect and building the women’s confidence has been the true driving force behind the setup of the group 6 years ago, and Active Essex have been proudly working with them over the past 2 years to broker further relationships, strengthen their involvement in the community and enhance their offer.
Whilst working with Active Essex for several years, the Women Together group understand the importance of physical activity, and this year identified the need to introduce two projects, a Learn to Ride Cycling project and a general fitness session, alongside the South West hub team.
Active Essex have had a long-standing relationship with the Women Together group, and have seen over the years, the power of introducing physical activity into this group to support its participants. By joining delivery partners and known locally trusted organisations together, coupled with the different funding pots, this has enabled the group to listen to their participants and develop opportunities which they have expressed they would enjoy.
Learn to Ride Sessions
The first project set up, was the Learn to Ride Cycling sessions, as it was identified that many of the women engaged in Women Together, have never learnt to ride a bike, and that cycling was seen to be more of a male orientated activity. Active Essex brokered a partnership between Women Together, Basildon Council and Basildon and Brentwood Health Alliance, alongside Trailnet, who were able to provide 2 female instructors to deliver a 6-week course, and the firestation as a venue. Support was also offered through a small funding contribution, to ensure all participating women had suitable kit and clothing to ensure barriers to participation were reduced.
Through the Essex Cycle Grant, it is Active Essex’s long-term hope that participating women, will feel more confident to cycle with their children to school, social meet ups and social bike rides.
The Multi-Sport Project
Since working with Women Together, Active Essex have seen the group strive to look for ways their members can improve their social, physical, and mental wellbeing. Therefore after consulting with members, the group found that they were also interested in taking part in Badminton and Indoor Cricket but needed a safe and suitable environment that met religious needs. By utilising the local leisure centre weekly, 30 regular women attend the sessions thanks to the Together Fund.
Many participants don’t use English as their first language, and sadly this was making many feel socially isolated. The introduction of these sessions provides the opportunity for them to feel part of something and gives them the ability to have fun with other like-minded women.