Today, 8th March 2023, is International Women’s Day – a global celebration of the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women. It is a day to reflect on progress made, to call for change and to celebrate acts of courage and determination by ordinary women, who have played an extraordinary role in their communities.
At Stripey Stork we are lucky to be surrounded by many great women and on International Women’s Day we want to celebrate a few of them. They all do incredible things within our community, working hard daily to make life better for families across Surrey. We admire their kind hearts and their determination to make things better. This year’s theme is #EmbraceEquity and we believe that to inspire young girls, it’s important to show them strong female and real female role models. We asked all of these women one question:
“What piece of advice would you give to young girls today?”
Lena Abdu (Alliance for Better Care)
Lena works with GP practices and primary care teams to enable people to live happier lives in their community. She is particularly passionate about connecting with people who face additional challenges accessing healthcare and service and improving health outcomes.
Do the right thing. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Look up and out, find what motivates you and ignore the naysayers – what you put in is what you get out and follow the sunshine!
Nancy Sproston (Furzefield Primary School)
Nancy is a Home School Link Worker at Furzefield Primary School, supporting families in any way she can. Her role is very varied and each day she may be doing something different. She might need to be creative to find a solution to a problem that arises. She finds it rewarding to be able to support families and young people, and hopefully make things a little bit better for those she is working with.
Use social media wisely. It can be a great place to learn about interesting topics, get good ideas, and gain inspiration. But it can also lead to negative emotions, damage self-esteem and waste time when we could be taking part in real life. There is no rush to grow up, so live your life the way you want to. Take good care of yourself. Think about what you want and set small goals to get there. Ask for help if you need it.
Gracia (I Choose Freedom)
Gracia is the Resettlement Advocate for I Choose Freedom. I Choose Freedom provides refuge; a place where women and children go when they’re fleeing severe domestic abuse. However, because they’re secret places (they must keep these families safe from the people that wish to harm them) you may not realise that there is one in your area. The families that use the service will be the most high-risk cases of domestic abuse and they are assessed as being at risk of murder if they were to remain in their homes. She provides support to clients after they have left the refuge to move on to accommodation in the Surrey area. This includes but isn’t limited to, emotional support, practical help, and signposting to relevant services.
Trust your instincts, if something doesn’t feel right it usually isn’t right, don’t second guess yourself. Believe in yourself and trust your own judgement. Get support, don’t suffer in silence, there are so many support services that provide free support, information and advice!
Helen Howe (Reigate and Banstead Citizen Advice)
Helen is the Outreach Project Coordinator for Reigate and Banstead Citizens Advice. She works closely with charities, family centres, communities and the Council to try and make a positive impact and lasting difference to the lives of vulnerable people. One of her personal goals is to empower families through improving their understanding of their situation and encouraging them to take the next step. The practical support that Stripey Stork provides helps her to make parents feel valued and more confident in their ability to care for their families.
No one is perfect. We are all unique and have the potential to achieve our goals. It’s OK to ask for help and make mistakes if you learn and move on. You always have the right to make your own decisions, be proud of them and stay curious!
Nicola Dawes (Stripey Stork)
Nicola is the Chief Executive and founder of Stripey Stork. Back in 2013 when trying to find a home for all the baby clothes, toys and other items her children no longer needed, she realised there was a need for someone to get these items to those who so desperately needed them. After running some donation events in the community and seeing how much this service was needed, Stripey Stork was born. Under her leadership it has grown to be one of the biggest baby banks in the UK, inspiring other communities to adopt the concept in their area too.
My team will laugh when they read this as it’s something I say a lot – ‘shy bairns get nowt’. It’s a Geordie phrase but it essentially means ‘if you don’t ask you won’t get’. Don’t be afraid to advocate for yourself and to speak up. We can be quick to assume what we think the response will be, but in fact most people want to help and being clear on what you need is helpful for everyone. I’m an introvert by nature so it doesn’t come naturally to me, but it’s my responsibility to advocate for my team and the families we help. I have to remind myself daily not to be that ‘shy bairn’ but as a consequence I get to experience the kindness and support that comes from making yourself vulnerable enough to ask for what you really need.
These are just some of the amazing women that we work with every day. Thank you for being part of our International Women’s Day blog. Without them and all our other referral partners, volunteers, team, trustees, fundraisers and donors we couldn’t support the number of families we help each year. A community united in belief that every child deserves the same start in life.