Learning to Care
Learning to Care is a volunteer training programme for BAME women looking to support vulnerable BAME women in their community. It recognises the power of peer-to-peer working in being able to effectively engage and support people living in extreme disadvantage. L2C is a peer support project which gives BAME women the skills and experience to help other BAME women to address social, financial and health inequalities.
L2C trains and supervises bilingual BAME women volunteers in the North Manchester community as BAME Women’s Welfare Ambassadors (WWAs). Training takes place 6hrs/wk over 10wks.
Recognised expertise in the field work together to help WWAs understand key issues affecting BAME women:
• social isolation
• poor mental health
• controlling behaviour
• financial isolation
• domestic abuse
• forced marriage
• honour-based violence
WWAs work in outreach across their communities e.g. mosques, anti-natal groups. They identify isolated and marginalised women and encourage them to participate in activity which is perceived by family and community as supporting, not undermining, community values or families’ concepts of role. The WWAs help women take the first steps towards improved social mobility by providing a linguistically and culturally sensitive environment in which women can begin to become involved in community activity. They are trusted ‘others’ in whom the women can confide. Over time they encourage them to improve English, join in confidence-building activities and gain skills and qualifications. 1:1 and group bi-lingual support gradually identifies individual needs and helps overcome barriers to integration. Where circumstances are serious, WWAs link with experts in the field, women’s support agencies such as Saheli, NEESA Well Women and the Women’s Zone, to make women safe. This may involve finding shelter, understanding the law or accessing therapy. WWAs gain a sound understanding of women’s rights and the statutory agencies which exist to support these. They provide advocacy for women who need to access these services.