It isn’t always easy managing a women’s community resource with the challenges we have had. However, since starting up almost four years ago, we are still here and still making a significant difference to women with multiple and complex needs. This year we have shown our resilience and determination to survive. We have managed to stay buoyant with relatively tiny funding grants. We have coped with a wonderful core trio of committed women Directors who have worked together with our new Project Lead to show that we work to high professional standards, have robust safeguarding processes and policies in place, and can answer any query, however nefariously made, concerning our operations or care for our women and their families. Cohort 4 has triumphed during 2017!
Funding is a perennial issue for all small charities or social enterprises. Relatively tiny pockets of funding have helped to sustain us as a group of women volunteers in our community is much appreciated. We thank our funders this year: @RosaForWomen @HoECF @BigLotteryFund Your funds have enabled us to stretch each £ to offer a fantastic resource to our local women. Thank you to the team at NWCAVA for your advice and guidance.
Small amounts of funding mean that we maintain our presence as a safe women’s organisation, helping women to survive experience of abuse(s), working with those who have been affected by the criminal justice system and all of us who have experiencing mental ill health, anxiety and isolation.
Our social enterprise company structure means that we can create our own funds too, and we work with local mentoring organisations that have undertaken several of our OCN accredited Level 3 Reintegrative Mentoring© Units. All funds go straight back into Cohort 4. For those who have purchased our crafts, thank you. Again, all monies go straight into our organisation. Each £ earned by us, gets ploughed straight back into Cohort 4.
Making Cohort 4 accessible to women with complex and multiple issues
Cohort 4 has established two new collaborative partners in the community who have time limited services for women with multiple and complex needs. They are funded by the statutory sector for a finite number of sessions. Cohort 4 takes over when their funding/support capacity stops. Just when women begin to benefit from the support, we get the opportunity to work with them without funding or support from the local of statutory agencies. Thanks to volunteers and funders, we can do this without cost to the women or to the referring agencies. We are able to do this without caps on sessions or length of engagement as emotional survival takes time, healing and change are processes that cannot be addressed usually in 6 sessions.
In developing these collaborative relationships, we have been able to become accessible to the very women who would benefit most from our peer support and encouragement. Thanks to our collaborative partners, we have become Women Supporting Women.
In 2017 have linked up with international sisters at SOAR in Malta, an inspiring group of women survivors whose organisation is so similar to our own. With shared aims, goals and ethics, we look forward to developing this link further in 2018 and taking our OCN Reintegrative Mentoring© to their women peer mentors.
What we do have at Cohort 4 is passion, energy and commitment. Irrespective of the challenges, the depletions on our time and energy, Cohort 4 women keep on bouncing. The three Directors of Cohort 4 offer a unique blend of professional expertise, of lived experience and span ages 24 to 74 years of age. This diversity of experience is so important. Additionally, a very experienced Project Lead joins us, who has already helped negotiate and advocate for women in terms of finding them accommodation, and ensuring that their benefits and support needs have been accessed. Sarah has had a huge impact on our women in only a few months.
Thanks to our range of wonderful social enterprise workshop tutors who have joined us through 2017, we hope to work with you again in 2018 as our women are currently selecting what they would like to do through this year. We thank also the community of St Benedict’s RC church in Atherstone for your continued kindness, support and encouragement. Thanks to our Patron Ruth Jones OBE and I must mention Florence Margaret, our dear little whippet mascot who always makes us laugh.
Finally, thanks to the women who are Cohort 4, you are all part of our story through 2017 and we exist because of you. Each one of you brings something special to a user led support group; we celebrate your successes and progress as we head into 2018 together. We are Women Supporting Women in North Warwickshire, Atherstone and Tamworth.