Roots to Confidence

This has been a particularly successful, albeit small project both for Community Links Scotland and Dunbritton Housing Association who have supported the project over the last two years as part of their Wider Role activities. The project involved working with a local women’s refuge; the main aim of our work being to assist the staff in supporting  the resident women to building confidence and to look towards an independent future beyond refuge.

The first year of the project focused around enhancing the existing bland garden to be a richer and more interesting space for the recreation and relaxation of the ladies and their children. CLS secured funding from Wider Role, Women’s Aid and Community Food and Health Scotland to support garden visits, in-house design sessions and a local build project linked to employability training for the local social enterprise squad who carried out the garden improvements including sensory and rich herbaceous planting, a children’s play hut, trellised archway and raised vegetable beds.

Concurrent with the garden improvements, eleven women attended a 7 week STEPS course focused on confidence building and goal setting. “I feel different about myself and the way I now think about things” and “With the help of this course I want to get on and do great things” are typical of the women’s responses. Following the STEPS course, ten ladies went on to successfully complete an Introduction to Horticulture delivered by staff at Levengrove Park in Dumbarton and incorporating health and safety, small machinery operation, seed planting, propagation and crop rotation.

Year 2 of this project has increased the focus on building employability and life skills.  Six women have so far completed their SQA Level 3 Beginners’ IT course with all ladies progressing to learn additional IT skills.

I cannot believe that I can finally use a computer,” said one of the participant in the programme. “This is something I felt I would never been able to do. Taking part at first was very, very nerve racking and I could not sleep the night before the first day of the IT course.  Now I have joined the Carman Centre and use computers.  I have been able to trace a friend that I have not seen since I was 16 years of age.  I have been actively seeking work and can now access the Job Centre vacancies that are online.  My confidence has really improved.”

Additionally, six ladies have achieved their 6-day Introduction to Care, SQA Level 3 course and the final training phase for this year is building on the food theme from the earlier garden improvements; the ladies are attending a Cookery On A Budget course including basic food hygiene, menu planning, costing and preparing 10 healthy recipes and a consideration of cost saving techniques for food purchase, storage and preparation.

This project has truly helped to build the confidence and aspirations of very vulnerable women and would not have been possible without the willing, flexible and professional support of Dunbartonshire Women’s Aid, Onto Work, Social Enterprise Clydebank,Work Connect, West Dunbartonshire Parks Dept and West Dunbartonshire Employability Services.

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