Cohort 4 receive the Queens Award for Voluntary Service from the Lord Lieutenant of Warwickshire
Thank you all for being here today to celebrate our fantastic achievement. My name is Rachel Wilde and I am one of the directors of Cohort 4. I just want to say a few words about the work which we do and how our organisation has developed and evolved over time. Cohort 4 has been in operation for over 6 years and has grown from a single project into a multitude of projects primarily focussed on women. I first got to experience the valuable and unique work which happens at Cohort 4 in 2015 when I was studying to become a Social Worker. I attended one of the activity groups whilst doing an internship at another peer mentoring organisation which was linked to Cohort 4 at the time.
Cohort 4: A community of women
Cohort 4 is a community of women who come together to support each other through mutual shared experiences which often include mental health difficulties, financial disadvantage, disability and experiences of abuse. When I first visited Cohort 4 I was warmed and humbled by the genuine supportive environment which Cohort 4 provides. Despite many of our women having faced multiple adversities throughout their lives, the atmosphere is positive, kind and very often filled with laughter. Through my experience as a Social Worker, I have seen many times how statutory services fall far short of providing the type of support which people with multiple, complex needs require. There are often lengthy waits for any kind of service or assessment, minimal support available after assessments are completed and then the support which may finally be offered is nearly always time limited.
Cohort 4 is different
Cohort 4 is led by the women who the organisation aims to support and puts the women at the centre of decision making and defining what support they feel they need and the way the whole organisation should be run. At Cohort 4, we are all equal, whether we are a director, volunteer, member of staff or attendee at the groups. For me, this is what Social Work is all about and the reason why I became a Social Worker but it is very rare to experience an organisation like Cohort 4 today. This is why 4 years ago it was so easy for me to agree to become a Director of Cohort 4 and it gives me joy and pleasure to be part of such a brilliant organisation.
Evolving over 6 years
Over the past 6 years we have achieved and done so much and it’s fantastic to look back at where we have come from and where we are going. We have run a number of different projects including arts and crafts, social lunch clubs, holidays and outings, virtual support groups during lockdown, training and education events, group work programmes and even a men’s breakfast group to name just a few. We have also started to develop the social enterprise aspect of our organisation over the past few years and now offer a whole host of training packages for professionals and other organisations both within the UK and abroad; we have even formed a partnership with a similar women’s organisation in Malta. The income generated from delivering training is then put back into Cohort 4 to provide further funds to support our women. The remit of Cohort 4 really does stretch far and wide, providing a great deal of support with a relatively small amount of funding and no time limits attached to the support.
The Queens Award for Voluntary Service
I am extremely proud to be a part of Cohort 4 and of the achievements of all of our women which is why it is so fantastic that all of the achievements have been recognised by the Queens Award which we have received today. So I would like to finish by saying that I just hope that we have many more years ahead where we will share laughter, kindness and new adventures together.
Rachel Wilde, Director Cohort 4