Helping women find their voice

Mimi Kay meets the founder of a local charity helping migrant women integrate with the local community

A Voice Out Woman (VOW) workshop in Enfield
A Voice Out Woman (VOW) workshop in Enfield

More than 90 languages are spoken by Enfield borough residents as a primary or only language. Language barriers can make it difficult for some women to obtain job opportunities and services to support their families and it can also make them more vulnerable to domestic abuse.

Voice Out Woman (VOW) is a charity that recognises that many ethnic minority women in the area feel isolated because of a lack of confidence, or because they speak little English. The charity was set up in 2017 to support women in Enfield by building their confidence and language skills so they can feel more embedded in the community.

Workshops run by the charity have included helping with job applications and business mentoring. As a result of these workshops, three women have set up their own businesses in the area.

Other workshops have focused on raising awareness of domestic abuse. These workshops train the women as certified domestic abuse community champions to be able to support other women in the area. The training is offered alongside local police and social workers.

For the first time in January this year, the charity launched parenting workshops to focus on youth challenges from bullying, to getting in with the ‘wrong crowd’. The parenting workshops were held in partnership with Enfield Council and Race Equality Foundation. More youth workshops are planned in September, on youth leadership in the community.

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VOW’s founder, Jasmine Bekale Assamoi, says: “I come from a French-speaking African country, so I understand how tough it can be to join a new community and not feel confident to integrate. I use my experience to help women and their children in similar situations.”

One woman the charity helped had been in an 18-year abusive relationship. Despite her lack of confidence and limited English, the charity helped the woman leave the relationship, find her first job and regain her self-esteem.

Estelle is another woman VOW worked with. They helped her and her three children move from one room to a three-bedroom flat in Enfield. This was after Estelle and her children struggled with housing issues for six years. Estelle says of VOW: “They have compassion.

“They are able to find a way to solve your problem or to help you look for a solution. They understand people who need help.”

The charity also helped Mathilda when she had problems communicating with children’s social services. The charity intervened to explain that she did not have an interpreter at the time. This intervention was vital in preventing Mathilda’s children from being taken away from her. Mathilda says: “They helped me so much. They are like family to me now.”

What’s next for VOW? Jasmine says: “Our mission at VOW is to keep working with individuals and companies to help these women in Enfield find their voice.”

For more information about VOW:
Visit voiceoutwoman.org.uk

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