Anawim held their annual awards ceremony on 15 December 2015 and report on it here. With a budget of less than £400 for the awards ceremony, it was a challenge that proved better than successful on the day. Seventy one clients received certificates. As well as celebrating clients achievements, it was an opportunity for funders and supporters to get a snap shot of how much difference their contributions make to such a vulnerable client group.
It also showed new clients at the Anawim Centre the changes that ex-clients have made through the work they have done with Anawim and what they, themselves too can achieve.
The ceremony was all about highlighting the achievements of a group of women, the majority of which had never had an opportunity like this before. Each woman had her own story and progressive journey that they were taking with the support of Anawim. There were tears and laughter, but moreover, there was inspiration for every person in the hall, not just for clients, but for Anawim staff, volunteers, funders and supporters. The Operations Manager with the Curriculum Coordinator opened the ceremony (held in a beautifully set-up hall), by making introductions and giving a brief overview of what the courses entail. The Chief Executive welcomed everyone and the ceremony was good to go.
It started off with a client who has been through so much; abused, exploited, been to prison, had her child taken away, everything from a nightmare. Here she was standing in front of over one hundred and fifty people, telling us how she pulled through it. She came to Anawim as a wreck but with all the careful support she received she found the strength to turn things around. To the clients she directed “hang in there as you will get through it too” (paraphrased).
Suzanne, the Self-esteem and Leadership tutor, with some of her class, took the stage. What a breath of fresh air her classes were to anyone who thinks that there isn’t a light at the end of the tunnel. This is where the tears began from attendees and for some they did not stop.
A lady told her story of losing her child after committing a crime. She was in a domestic violence relationship and suffered severe depression, something many clients related to. Also telling her story was a shy girl who never spoke to anyone when she first started her community order at Anawim, she was suicidal after the abuse she had suffered. She has become a model citizen since she started using the tools from the course to build up her life again. When returning to court the judge said to her “it would be a privilege to re-unite you with your daughter”. She now has contact with her daughter. After completing the self-esteem course, she came back to Anawim as a peer mentor. Moreover, in her support for women who have suffered the way she has, she gives talks on the journey of vulnerable, chaotic women. Together with Anawim, she delivered a talk to Police Officers recently.
Others from the class used descriptions that most the Anawim client group felt like when they first attend the centre; “hopeless”, “end it all” “suicidal”, but these courses Anawim provide are really making a great difference.
Adella an ex-client was up next, she is famous at Anawim for the work that she is doing to raise awareness with police, on the radio and more. “I owe my life to this wonderful charity” she says. Anawim helped her so much that she wants to give back. She spends a lot of time helping and delivering talks / workshops to young people; a group she is very passionate about as that is when she was abused and exploited at a vulnerable trying time.
Anawim offer the TREM (Trauma, Recovery and Empowerment) course which is delivered by a Clinical Psychologist and Probation Officer. The Clinical Psychologist took the stage with a Caseworker and clients. The story we heard next was very empowering. This lady lost her daughter, overdosed and began hallucinating. Whilst sobbing she said “Anawim helped me through the worst pain I’d ever had”. She is now sixteen months clean; this was received by applause and cheers from her peers.
Stop and Think is a recognised social problem-solving course, specifically for women with personality disorders. A client who completed the course this quarter said a few words. She used to ignore life, but the course made her challenge her thought process. She hasn’t drunk in months and said “without this place I would literally …… let’s stop there”. Very brave, from a lady who suffered severe abuse as a child and adult and overdosed. Her words touched many clients and there were roars and cheers.
Some awards were received with courtesies and smiles.
Ruth Drapkin a Trustee at Anawim for over 20 years gave some background of how Anawim was set up in 1986 by two Sisters, Magdalene and Masy.
A Caseworker with expertise in Drugs and Alcohol support delivers a course at the centre; she was oozing with pride as she spoke about how much progress her class have made. Her first term at Anawim has been extremely impactful to this group.
Accredited awards were handed out. Group photos were taken as the ladies stood next to their friends that they have built great relationships with, giggling and blushing on stage.
Lucy Baldwin an author and senior Lecturer with expertise in women and criminal justice used this opportunity to show her admiration for what the women have accomplished.
Solihull and Bourneville colleges run accredited courses at the Anawim Centre in Balsall Heath, including Health and Social Care, Parenting, English and Mathematics. The relationship between these colleges and Anawim is very strong and benefitted the clients dramatically as some have gone on to enhance their skills and education.
Another partnering organisation with Anawim is Birmingham and Solihull Women’s Aid and they said a few words. They deliver a much needed domestic violence course as so many women at Anawim have been subject to domestic abuse.
Awards were presented to women who received 3 to 6 certificates in the last term, a great achievement in a short space of time.
Anawim follows a one stop shop approach, allowing women to get most, if not all the support they need at one centre. This is why the work they do is so successful, as clients are not forced to register in different centres for their various needs. One of these services is the support of an Independent Domestic Violence Advisor (IDVA). She runs the Freedom Programme and Heal Your Life course. The Freedom Programme focusses on identifying different types of domestic violence and the Heal Your Life course is based on a book by Louise Hay, teaching how to begin to like yourself.
The IDVA presented awards to two non-course attendees for all the work they have done and progress they have made. Both women spoke; one had everyone in the hall gasp for breath as she spoke of the horrific assault she suffered at the hands of her ex-partner, that nearly left her and her unborn baby for dead. But she refused to be a victim. “I am a victor not a victim” she said.
The message given by the other lady was about bravery “Don’t let it break you but make you stronger” she said. From a lady who has suffered unimaginable abuse for over twenty years from when she was a child – something inspirational for us all to take away with us.
These powerful stories bought the ceremony to a close. The Operations Manager closed up by thanking everyone and drawing everyone’s attention to the Christmas style buffet that was set-up at the back of the hall.
Such a lovely event for us all to be part of. To be able to see the positive changes in so many women is a privilege to witness and all at Anawim hope to continue to highlight these achievements in the future.
Congratulations to Working Chance who have been chosen as Charity of the Year 2016 by the City Women Network.