Glasgow Women’s Voluntary Sector Network (GWVSN), was set up in 1996 to ensure that projects working with women in Glasgow were linked into and influenced Glasgow City Council’s Equality Agenda through representation at the Women’s Equality Forum.
The Network has been supported by both individual women and workers in the past, but is now developing to be overseen by a Management Committee of individual women. Wise Women will continue to host GWVSN, providing admin, fundraising and learning support.
This is an exciting time for GWVSN. We are looking forward to working with women across Glasgow to gather ideas about developments they would like to see and to hear about their experiences of their communities.
Making Links, Moving Forward
As part of this work Dawn and Frances from Wise Women visited Women’s Resource and Development Agency (WRDA), and Participation and the Practice of Rights (PPR), in Belfast to get ideas about how to move forward with GWVSN.
This was a fascinating visit and both organisations had much to offer.
WRDA has a bank of Community Facilitators, who provide learning and discussion opportunities in communities across Belfast. The Facilitators receive accredited training from WRDA, increasing skills, confidence and employment opportunities. WRDA has been successful in influencing changes to the Benefits System as well as provided essential health guidance to communities.
PPR employs Community Organisers, who work within communities to develop groups around particular issues. While we visited one group was organising to attend a protest about the Stansted 15 Court Case, which was in relation to the arrest of 15 people who refused to allow an aeroplane carrying Asylum Seekers to leave from the airport. The group had been campaigning locally on Asylum Seekers rights and saw a link between the two issues.
Both organisations provided good examples of community engagement and, conveniently for us, although achieving significant outcomes for communities, structurally had different approaches, both with merit.
It was hoped the Belfast trip would offer examples of good practice that could be adapted to the Glasgow context, and this was definitely achieved.
This leaves GWVSN with many options and we are already working on progressing forward. This includes identifying the role of Community Organisers / facilitators in more detail, with a view to developing training for GWVSN to use methods when organising campaigns; secure funding for training from PPR for GWVSN members, and exploring the use of Citizen’s Juries to influence policy in Glasgow.
GWVSN has already arranged Induction Training for the 10 women who have agreed to be on the Management Committee and have applied for funding to provide further learning opportunities for them. The women are keen to take hold of the reigns and begin to connect with women across communities in Glasgow to highlight some of the issues important to them.
Some of these approaches are extremely progressive and we will be ensuring the links we have made with our friends in Belfast will continue for support in moving forward.