“I’ve got all my life to live and I’ve got all my love to give and I’ll survive, I will survive, hey, hey…”.
The catchy tune with a powerful uplifting message, ‘I will survive’ blasted around The Acorn Centre in Edinburgh. However it was not Gloria Gaynor singing, it was the YMCA Women’s Group. This week’s group meeting involved a singing workshop with all members joining in unison to a sing-a-long of popular tunes. All the women had a smile on their face and were singing with a care-free attitude. What better way than to forget life’s challenges than being surrounded by friends and singing away?
The YMCA Edinburgh Women’s Group invites all women from the local Leith based area – and those further afield, to meet weekly and partake in a wide range of activities. The group attracts women from a range of diverse backgrounds, with many facing personal challenges such as: loneliness; poverty, physical and mental health issues, relationship difficulties, addiction, stress or low self-esteem. Through group activities the women gain confidence through developing new skills, socialise to make new friends and form a strong network of support for one another. It is a chance for the women to be surrounded by a friendly network of people, which can help each member move forward from personal issues. It acts as a form of escapism from their daily lives. A crèche is also available for those members who have small children.
The weekly meet-up involves having lunch and recently the cooking was led by a group of women who had completed a Menu Planning and Budgeting Course with Cyrenians. This emphasised how to prepare low-cost, healthy meals in order to improve health and well-being. The collaboration between Cyrenians and the Women’s Group has provided volunteer opportunities for the women. The women have developed their cookery skills, which has given them a boost in confidence and received their REHIS Food Hygiene Certificate if they wish to pursue a career in catering in the future.
The group provides each of the women with personal time to strengthen self-worth, self-esteem, increase confidence levels and socialisation skills. The group activities are enjoyable and all take place in a safe and secure environment.
The reassuring feeling of being accepted has an overall impact on personal well-being. The intimate group allows the women to form strong bonds and loneliness is reduced as problems can be shared amongst one another. The women feel a sense of belonging and continue to return to the group week after week, always leaving with a smile.
If you’d like to know more about making a donation to support organisations like the YMCA Women’s Group, through the Women’s Fund for Scotland please get in touch with Shona Blakeley, Development Manager by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0131 524 0353.