Celebrating the role of women in the community on International Women's Day

Today we are celebrating the part played by women in the community to mark International Women’s Day. International Women’s Day is held annually on March 8th and exists to acknowledge the achievements of women, raise awareness about equality and fundraise for female-focused charities.

Wiltshire Community Foundation Joint chief executive Fiona Oliver said: “We fund some wonderful groups whose projects protect, nurture and champion women and we think that is worth applauding every day, but particularly on International Women’s Day. Across the charity and community sector in Wiltshire and Swindon there are many, many amazing women doing wonderful work to make life better for their communities and we want to highlight their contribution too.”

Among those groups is The Nelson Trust in Swindon, which empowers women who are trying to overcome a range of issues including addiction, abusive relationships, working in the sex industry or suffering mental health problems. The group, which works with about 400 victims, received a community foundation grant from its High Sheriff’s Fund to launch an art group to help women express themselves and give them a creative outlet.

STEP Swindon works with young people on the margins of education of all ages and received an £8,000 Tampon Tax Fund grant to run a project with teenage girls from two schools deemed to be at risk of exploitation online. The project, based at The Nythe Centre, looked at body image, self-esteem and the impact of reality TV on girls.

Swindon Women’s Aid has worked in the town since 1975 and in the last year alone has had three Coronavirus Response Fund Grants totalling more than £18,000. The most recent grant to the group, which operates helpline and a refuge for women in abusive relationships, is to revamp the gardens and create seating areas at its shelter.

Mighty Girls CIC works to promote positive female role models and inspire and empower girls aged from seven to 14 in west Wiltshire but has also been reaching further across the county with online sessions during the lockdowns instead of the after-school clubs it usually runs in Bradford on Avon and Trowbridge. It received a £2,400 grant from the community foundation’s coronavirus Response and Recovery Fund.

Splitz Support Services, which was recently awarded a second coronavirus fund grant by the community foundation, helps victims of domestic violence find a place of safety to rebuild their lives. The Trowbridge group, which helps women from west Wiltshire as well as Devizes and Chippenham.

Mrs Oliver said: “These are just a few of the groups, many run by passionate, resourceful and inspirational women, who are working to give girls and women more self-confidence and more opportunities to change their lives and reach their potential. We are really proud of the part we play in that and also very humbled by the work they do.”

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