BLOG: Adapting During The Pandemic
Amina - the Muslim Women's Resource Centre (MWRC) is an inclusive organisation based in Glasgow that empowers and supports Muslim and black and minority ethnic (BME) women to create an inclusive Scotland in which they can contribute fully. In this guest blog Development Officer Sara McHaffie discusses the challenges of the Covid19 pandemic on the organisation and how they have adapted.
I’m delighted to be blogging about the needs of the women we work with and how those needs have changed, and other changes for our organisation during this time.
Amina MWRC empowers Muslim, Black and minority ethnic women in Scotland with various projects, including our helpline and development work to end discrimination and violence against women and girls. Usually, we hold group activities and awareness-raising sessions.
After a busy spring with our ‘Chalk’ plays, a project launch and a gala evening, we suddenly had to adapt to remote working. Our team began working from home and worked out new ways to touch base and discuss ideas together. We used the opportunity to regroup and increase internal training and planning sessions.
From the first week, we’ve held awareness-raising sessions online. The first was a scheduled workshop on ending violence against women and discussing gender stereotypes.
We’ve collaborated with various experts, creating self-care content such as blog posts and videos. The videos were clearly helpful as they averaged 1,500 views each!
Our helpline team also organised a series of workshops called ‘That’s ME’, enabling women to gain confidence and understand themselves better.
The Violence Against Women & Girls team adapted a planned men’s workshop to a webinar which was well-attended. We also held Facebook Live sessions with Shaykhs covering topics such as domestic abuse and Islamophobia, with around 1000 views each.
We’ve also created resources and held webinars on related topics, to enable women to support friends and relatives in need.
Women we work with are often more isolated than average. They might experience prejudice in their communities or in the workplace. They might not speak English as a first language. They might also struggle to access technology and the privacy needed to access remote support and group activities. As news has highlighted that people from Black and minority ethnic backgrounds are particularly affected by Covid 19, many people have been worrying about how it may affect them. One woman said ‘As a BAME health worker I have seen the effects of subtle yet catastrophic racial discrimination’.
We contacted our participants and community members and identified women needed additional support to access our remote activities, so we applied for funding for a project to increase digital inclusion. This kind of innovation has been a positive aspect of the changes we’ve been adjusting to.
This isolation can be catastrophic for women living under coercive control. UN Women has called violence against women a ‘shadow pandemic’ which has worsened during lockdown as women have been more isolated. Our helpline has been fully operational to provide support and referrals to women in need.
At Amina MWRC, we often work in partnership with organisations providing direct support to victim/survivors of violence against women and girls. It’s crucial to know that these organisations still provide support tailored to the changing situation.
In the words of Mary Miller from our partners, Dundee Women’s Aid, “We are open and offering telephone, email, video calls or text service to women and children experiencing domestic abuse. We are still admitting women and their children (if they have any) to refuge if space is available, these admissions are done on a face to face basis with staff wearing PPE and maintaining 2 metres physical distance.”
Any Muslim, Black and minority ethnic women who would like to call our helpline for a listening ear are welcome to do so on 0808 801 0301 or firstname.lastname@example.org or by online chat on our website.
If your organisation would benefit from our training, we can tailor-make it for your needs. Just contact email@example.com with your requirements.