Today’s guest blog comes from Cllr Helen Godwin, my Cabinet Lead for Women, Children and Families.
In 2018, I became Cabinet Member for Women, Children and Families, the only dedicated city cabinet member with responsibility for Women in the UK. No other city makes such a clear statement about the importance of a focus on women. In Bristol we know that unless we ensure our women are safe, free from violence and abuse, supported and healthy then our families cannot thrive. We consider childcare an economic issue and have made affordable childcare a city priority. We want to improve health outcomes for women; in some parts of Bristol they are amongst the lowest in the country. We are determined to eradicate period poverty in Bristol, an issue that affects too many of our women and girls.
The work of extraordinary women keeps this brilliant city moving, thriving and improving. And in my role, I am lucky enough to meet many great women whose names you may not recognise, but who give so much to their communities, organisations and in turn to Bristol.
In Southmead, women lead our community. Southmead has so much going on; from knitting groups to poetry workshops to a soap opera. But there is one extraordinary woman who is at the centre of everything. Deana Perry is committed to ‘resident power’, she fights to make sure that people living in Southmead always have their say (as well as running bingo, Team Southmead, Young Mums, going to Royal Weddings and playing skittles!).
Every community has a Deana, women who work tirelessly to make things happen and give so much of their own time to others. At Felix Road Adventure Playground, Mandy Watson has steered the organisation back from the brink and now chairs this amazing space that really is ‘home’ for so many children. The playground is thriving with exciting plans for the future and Mandy continues to lead whilst showering children and staff with love and support.
Saada Jumale does endless work in the Somali community and has done for the past 14 years, she runs a girls group, founded a women group and organises an elders women’s lunch. She quietly makes things happen and is a lynchpin for many Somali women.
Lorraine Bush has been a champion for Hartcliffe for many years. She is an inspirational leader, whose commitment to families and individuals with drug and alcohol problems never diminishes. Lorraine has ensured that Hawkspring has survived and grew, despite financial challenges in the past.
Nikki Lawrence leads the Family Nurse Partnership in Bristol, working with young mums and their babies, providing vital support in keeping families together and helping young women to access education. Her team are a lifeline for families across the city.
Unique Voice and Community of Purpose are two brilliant organisations, led by women, working to support our most disadvantaged children. Unique Voice, led by the unbelievably passionate Krystal Keeley, Claire Farnham and Cat Sparkes, uses drama and the creative arts to work with children on anti-bullying, internet safety and provides free holiday provision. Amy Kington and Holly Maurice at Community of Purpose champion Bristol’s amazing young people through the Bristol Young Heroes Awards and their work combatting holiday hunger.
Debra Newick and Diane Bunyan led The Women of Lawrence Hill project , an amazing piece of work focussing on the development of the Temple Quarter Enterprise Zone, over 100 local women contributed to ensure there will be employment opportunities for them. This research will be shared with Bristol City Council, and was led by Bristol Women’s Voice.
In business, Heather Cooper, at Hargreaves Lansdown is leading a cultural change. Staff are encouraged to volunteer across the city and diversity and mentoring are championed. Heather’s Harbourside neighbours, We The Curious are shaking things up too. The organisation is now led by the effervescent Donna Speed and Anna Starkey who have led an incredible reinvention of one of Bristol’s key attractions and are determined to make We The Curious a place for all of Bristol.
Of course the list goes on. There are hundreds of women who deserve to be recognised for the work they do in Bristol and I wish I could name them all. Instead, we can all use International Women’s Day 2019 to recognise and thank the women in our communities and the work they do for all of us.