Why women matter?
Women make up 90% of our beneficiaries including older people and girls, all our projects are tailored to meet their needs and interests. We work alongside them with informed advice and support them to make informed choices. It is a well known fact that women outnumber men in the world yet for decades yet women continue to be in a disadvantaged positions professionally and personally. At Warm Hut UK we have identified this problem particularly among the communities that we work with; ethnic minorities and those from a refugee background.
With a focus on African women, our aim it to work with women in order to educate, empower as well as learn from them.We are committed to ensure that women are empowered in order to be able to utilise their skills to the maximum. By increasing the participation of marginalised women in our community, we believe that we will all reap the benefits.All our projects consist of one or several of the components below with the aim of improving overall wellbeing:
- Provide personal support (including emotional support)
- Provide professional support (including accessing the education system and/or the labour market)
- Raising awareness and tackling harmful traditional practices
- Living Story – Ending FGM
- ICT and English Classes
- Manchester BME Network
Living Story – Ending FGM
Warm Hut UK has been supporting survivors of FGM since 2010 and has been funded by the CDF. Our campaigns tend to be low key as we want to engage more with the affected communities and seldom do we get involved in mass media; this approach has been adopted in order not to jeopardise the trust and confidence we have built with the communities we serve.
Throughout our project to eliminate, prevent and support survivors of FGM we built our reputation for sensitivity, experience and professionalism in running events and workshops. These were opportunities to disseminate information and advice whilst supporting and advocating for girls and women who have fallen victim of FGM, hence experiencing health complications or personal distress.
As a grassroots organisation we use personal stories of survivors to empower the community to take the next step to eradicate FGM while working alongside them to make informed decisions.
Our approach is to use personal individual stories because we strongly believe that women are the key to the elimination of FGM not just in the UK but in other practicing countries. Of course this is only achievable if they (women) continue to be supported. With time, their physical pain may fade away but the psychological torment of undergoing FGM remains with them forever.
Life is a continuous chain of experiences; both good and bad, however, both help us live a more educated and productive life.
In January 2014, Warm Hut UK applied for funding from Rosa UK to run a living story project (FGM – “In their own words”) to record 10 stories of women affected by FGM and its lifetime emotional implications. These were used as icebreakers to gain skills and confidence to support victims.
Our main target was the French Speaking communities practising FGM including Senegal, Guinea, Mali, Ivory Coast and Burkina Faso where 91.6% of women and girls undergo the type I, II and III of FGM. Their stories were intended to be “conversation-starters”, providing the opportunity for individuals to share their experiences with the community, revealing little known lifetime emotional distress. The activities included meeting with the participants, listening to their story and interviews followed thereafter. These were informal conversations to discuss their story, talk about how its affecting them and answer any questions/concerns that they may have had about the project. Once compiled, their stories will be used as ice breakers to start the conversation in the community through training, learning circle, workshops and community research for 12 weeks on how to tackle the issues and support to those affected in an efficient manner.
From our background, we have a culture of silence and women in the community started to make themselves invisible as the news of the project started to spread. Luckily enough, through the outreach we were able to contact 50 women with direct experience of FGM and from here we managed to build confidence and trust. The period of patience paid off and 20 women decided to come forward [N.B. for the purpose of the project we edited 10]. In these exclusive interviews, female survivors shared their memories in an effort to encourage other women to come forward and join in the forum demanding an end to the brutal practice.
Our main focus remains the prevention.
Our activities included:
- Launching the project
- One to one support and Q&A
- Reaching out to young people
- Interview training
- Recording and editing
- Workshops and learning circle
- Community research
- Report compilation
Manchester BME Network
Warm Hut UK is a member of the Manchester BME Network, a member-led network of organisations which supports Manchester’s black and ethnic minority communities. The network supports BME communities by linking Manchester BME organisations with each other, influencing decision makers and developing services for the community.
They have been commissioned by the Home Office to carry out a Community Engagement and Awareness Raising project on FGM, targeting the communities most affected by this illegal practice.
Warm Hut UK is one of 8 organisations in Greater Manchester supporting them as a local champion in Salford and Manchester areas to:
- Reach out Francophone speaking African communities from practising FGM heritage
- Be an informed presence within communities about FGM
Raise awareness about FGM
- Share information with the other groups and the Manchester BME Network about findings
- Report on findings and important issues emerging
In line with this project and in line with Warm Hut’s ongoing projects, we continue to hold sessions with men, women and children to raise awareness about FGM.