It’s amazing how far one idea and a small grant of £200 can take a determined group of mums and an estate of bored youngsters.
Mums’ coffee mornings became a route into providing Featherstone with a new youth club, holiday play schemes and much more. A SSHA ‘Start Up Grant’ and Neighbourhood Involvement Officer, Jackie Ilic was all the group who named themselves the ‘Loose Women’ needed to get going. Using the grant to buy equipment like crayons and bean bags started something which snowballed beyond the Loose Women’s imagination. The group have gained personal qualifications, had an impact on anti-social behaviour, alcohol misuse and brought the community together.
Jackie Ilic, Neighbourhood Involvement Officer says, “These women are an inspiration to groups of other mums. If you have an idea there’s no reason why you can’t pursue it. They thought ‘I’ve got a bit more in me. What can I do next?’ It’s a very successful group that everybody’s heard of. Even the name makes you smile.”
Graham Hughes, Village Agent says, “£200 was the ‘Start Up Grant’ that triggered it all. The Loose Women have gone on with such confidence, surprising themselves that they can make a difference and that others are interested in supporting them. SSHA helps sponsor events and the local community centre offers its hall for free. They’ve even gained qualifications through the project which can lead to work opportunities that fit around their children. By taking responsibility they’ve seen a whole new life open up for them and it’s all come from £200.”
Lisa Adkins, Loose Women Chair talks about what it’s done for the kids, “It’s made a great difference. It’s kept the older ones off the streets and there’s been a drop in anti-social behaviour. They love it. They realise that someone’s doing something for them and they respond positively. Teenagers stop and say ‘hello’ when they’d never bothered before. And we’ve had loads of donations this year to help keep us going.”
She adds what it’s done for her and the women, “It’s given me the confidence back that I’d lost over the years. We’ve all become really close friends. I feel a real sense of achievement knowing that we’re helping people and giving that bit back to the community.”
Jackie adds, “My role at SSHA involves helping communities develop as a whole. We all work to the same mission statement and that gives us incredible focus as a team. It brings out the ‘passion’ we have about helping the community. Watching people grow and develop themselves. It’s great when you see it all come together like this, it gives real job satisfaction.”
Lisa Adkins concludes, “It’s shocked me how far we’ve come. Everyone seems to know us now. Parents are so grateful for what we’ve done and when we go into meetings and introduce ourselves we feel very proud.”