International Womens Day Photo

International Women’s Day event hears inspiring stories

UNDER construction/100 Women First and Positive People teamed up for the second time to celebrate International Women’s Day 2021, writes Tracey Armstrong-Stacey.

It was slightly different to last year’s event due to the lockdown but just as successful and inspiring.

International Women’s Day 2021 took place online via Zoom and we were lucky enough to have Ex BBC Radio Presenter Emma Britton host the event for us. Emma did a spectacular job of navigating the event and assisted in creating a relaxed, welcoming environment for women to share.

It kicked off with myself, an Employment & Skills Outreach Officer at Sedgemoor District Council. I also manage the 100 Women First Project.

I explained how 100 Women First have mentored and supported various women into apprenticeships, training, employment, self-employment, and Business Start-up; offering a bespoke service tailored to women. Since its re-launch in September we have 72 women registered on the programme – 26 have taken up training opportunities and an amazing 11 women have found employment, four of which being Business Start-up.

Emma Wescott from Positive People Partnership Leader communicated the ongoing working partnerships we have with SASP, Cosmic, Inspired 2 Achieve and other organisations like 100 Women First to support people who may face multiple barriers to move them closer to the job market, aid them back into education or training or to secure employment including self-employment.

The above is a fantastic example of partnership working within the community to ensure the women who need the support the most are empowered and facilitated to overcome their barriers and start creating and reaching their own goals.

Most importantly for this event we heard from local Somerset women who have overcome their own struggles and have found themselves in a position to share their inspiring and empowering stories to reverberate the message of strength to women of all backgrounds.

Dawn and Gemma, who were both participants on 100 Women First and Positive People, shared how they have overcome their barriers and may even still be working through them with the support of people around them, using nature, creativity and wellbeing to build the paths in front of them and work through their journeys.

We heard from Somerset businesswoman Venetia Moore, who imparted her account of becoming empowered as a mother through massage and wellbeing to then turn it into a thriving business. Her take on meditation was passionate without being overpowering, and she really wants to give other people the opportunity to explore their own wellbeing and what works for them.

Completing the event was Nicola McGrath. She has achieved many things, including being on Channel 4’s SAS: Who Dares Wins and climbing Everest. But she also told us of her difficult background and the other challenges she had to overcome first.

She started her own business as a personal trainer during lockdown and proceeds to offer her boot camp workouts online to all women. We even got a little taster of the “Recruit 6 boot camp”.

The event went without a hitch which is thanks to the technical support from Chloe Penfold from Cosmic who assisted everyone with her digital input and helped us handle that pesky mute button!

The main message for the day was #ChooseToChallenge and I believe it is evident that regardless of the women’s background and the situations they have been through you can find strength in the support around you. Whether that’s through a friend or family member, online or face to face, or even through local projects like 100 Women First or Positive People.

I invite women of Somerset to #ChooseToChallenge themselves to be the best, strongest, kindest version of them they can be. If you know someone in need of support, please share this story or encourage them to get in contact with us.

Thank you to everyone who helped make this event such a huge success.

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