We’re thrilled to announce that a project supporting refugee and asylum-seeking women in Inverclyde has received a funding boost thanks to players of The National Lottery.

The Inverclyde Women’s Peer Support Network was awarded £140,000 by The National Lottery Community Fund Improving Lives initative.

Over the next 18 months, the money will be used to help women seeking safety feel more at home in their new communities. It will also fund a Leadership Skills programme, offering training opportunities to help women build confidence and make connections.

Empowering women

The Peer Support Network brings women from the Inverclyde region together in a safe and welcoming environment. It’s a chance for new arrivals to meet other women in their neighbourhood. They can make friends, share experiences and support each other as they rebuild their lives in Scotland.

The project also aims to connect women seeking safety with charities, community groups and local authorities providing services and support.

Community Development Officer, Farkhonda Kabiri, runs the Women’s Peer Support Network in Inverclyde. She has personal experience of seeking safety in Scotland and understands how challenging it can be. Farkhonda is passionate about empowering women and helping them thrive in their new communities.

She said: “I think it’s really important that women can feel part of a group and can find friends that share their experiences. We’re creating a safe space for women to raise their issues and concerns in their own community.

 “We then share these issues with decision makers and people who deliver services. From my experience this really works. We’ve had good news from Inverclyde. A Halal take-away has opened, there are now women only swimming lessons, gym classes and driving lessons.”

Making connections

Women in the Peer Support Network can meet in person at events like the recent International Women’s Day celebration, held at the Beacon Arts Centre in Greenock. There is also a WhatsApp group where they can chat, ask questions and support each other. Farkhonda regularly shares news and updates about opportunities and support in the local area with the group.

Zaafirah* arrived in Greenock with her husband and young son several months ago. Being able to connect with other women who have been through similar experiences makes a big difference. Through the Inverclyde Women’s Peer Support Network, Zaafirah signed up for English language and cooking classes, where she is making new friends.

She said: “It’s really helpful since I joined the WhatsApp group and connected with other women in Inverclyde because I feel a little bit homesick. For now, my problem is language. I continue [going to the] classes. There are a lot of Afghan women on the courses. It is very useful for us because we meet each other on the courses.”

Improving Lives

The National Lottery Community Fund, Scotland Chair, Kate Still said: “Every day National Lottery funding is changing the lives of thousands of people in communities across Scotland for the better. The Inverclyde Women’s Peer Support Network delivered by Scottish Refugee Council, is a great example of community activity in action, showing just what can be achieved when people come together for a common cause or to help others.

“National Lottery players can be proud to know that the money they raise is helping to support this vital work which is making a real difference to so many.”

Farkhonda and her colleague, Yalda Rasooli, have established Women’s Peer Support Networks across Scotland. As well as the group in Inverclyde, there are networks connecting women in Aberdeen, Arbroath, Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Inverness and Perth & Kinross.

Read more about our New Scots Women’s Peer Support Networks and hear from some of the women involved.

Rachel Lamb
Author: Rachel Lamb