Case Study: Works for Us

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Rosa invests in work to improve the health and wellbeing of women and girls. Women’s health is impacted not just by their biological sex, such as illness and disease related to reproductive functions, but also their socially-constructed gender roles. Gender inequality in income and autonomy make women vulnerable to poverty, and thence to an unhealthy lifestyle, particularly while their earning power is reduced during child rearing.

The example below is illustrative of the sorts of projects Rosa has been able to support to improve the mental health and wellbeing of women.

With support from Rosa UK, Works For Us were able to put on several group sessions in the greater Milton Keynes area in order to help women build confidence and take control of their lives. Group session topics and activities included  building self-awareness and self-esteem; identifying one’s personal values and types of work and activities that support those values; considering moving into work, reflecting on self-care and encouraging peer mentorship, contribution, and friendship.

Over 50 women participated in the project. At the beginning, the women identified as facing a range of personal issues, such as insecure employment, mental health issues, learning disabilities, feeling isolated or a history of domestic violence.

Liz* shared her story of how Works for Us helped her to begin changing her life:

“Before the course I wanted to gain more confidence towards getting work. It’s made this difference as I work and socialise with people much better now. Before I was nervous and couldn’t speak in a group. I’ve learned to relax more.

After the course with ‘Works for Us’ I am very proud of the new knowledge and confidence I have. I have learned to speak up when I need help due to my condition rather than walk away feeling irritated. I now am able to speak up which has helped tutors be more patient and accommodating to my needs helping me to complete my courses.

I am proud that I have gone out and done courses and got certificates and continue to do so. Looking to the future I want to keep improving my English language by doing relevant courses and find work experience in libraries or reception work.”

Another participant in the course said:

“I chose to participate in this project to rediscover myself and reconnect with myself and to rebuild myself. Since starting this project I was able to find meaning in my life again, rediscover my principles and values, and find direction in life. I have started applying actions towards the life direction I would like to follow by getting an idea and the steps to achieve balance in life, goal setting and what I want to be doing in the future as a career, and improve my relationship with my partner. This programme has helped me gain the feeling to want to live and find meaning in my life.”

Upon completion of this project, many women had already gained work, started volunteering, set up businesses, and stepped out of their comfort zones in ways like attending other group sessions or taking a holiday alone. Looking to the future, many women expressed hope to continue improving themselves and their lives, but the most notable difference was in reducing feelings of isolation and low self-worth by connecting women both to each other and to themselves. As one participant put it

“The course was like planting seed in me that flourished.”