Transformational Support group is working
Two women on a pilot programme to help increase their opportunities said they felt more in charge of their lives only weeks into the scheme.
Tina Ray and Rita Jones were among ten people on the Transformational Support Services programme launched by the Women’s Resource Centre, in partnership with bankers HSBC.
They said that the programme was what they needed and that they hoped it would increase their employment prospects.
Ms Ray, 48, said: “This pilot programme is a wonderful opportunity given to us by the Women’s Resource Centre to assist us in areas of our lives where we have been stagnant.
“I am very happy to be chosen as one of the first to participate in the programme, which I hope will be the beginning of change for so many in need of assistance.
“I personally have had challenges like many other young women in life and find that opportunities like this don’t come often.”
Ms Ray added: “Living in Bermuda, I have found our resources for advancement and growth to be limited.
“I believe that is why people leave the island in hopes of finding opportunity for improvement overseas, but some of us can’t afford to, for reasons either personal, economic or otherwise.
“When an opportunity such as this pilot programme is offered, it’s usually because someone has noticed you are deserving of this opportunity to grow and advance. This is what I have been seeking for many years.”
Ms Ray, originally from Warwick and who now lives in Pembroke, said: “I thank everyone involved that has worked hard behind the scenes to create and engineer this programme.
“It’s up to us now to take this to the next level and become successful in the next chapter of our lives.”
Ms Ray said that she has suffered from depression and had a series of family problems as well as difficulties with housing.
She added: “There have been different things over the years where things haven’t come together for me and I believe that the Transformational Support Services programme is the missing key to putting my life on a better track.”
Ms Ray said that the women were “learning from each other” in group sessions.
She added: “All our stories are kind of similar, so we empower one another.”
Ms Jones, of Sandys, said: “It was something I was waiting for my whole life, it was like God’s finally answered my prayer.”
The 38-year-old explained that although she works as a caregiver and a cleaner, both jobs are part-time and that she would like to gain more educational qualifications.
Ms Jones said: “I’ve had a lot of good jobs, but I haven’t found anything that I want to stick with.
“I think the programme will be good for me because it will teach me how to stabilise my life better financially and mentally and I just feel like it’s meant for me, because I need guidance.”
The WRC got a $90,000 donation from HSBC to fund the programme for three years.
Members of the bank’s staff will act as tutors and mentors in the scheme, which was designed to help women turn their lives around by becoming economically self-sufficient.
Ms Jones said: “We did a workshop with HSBC that opened my eyes up — they taught us how to make a chart of expenses and how to balance your account.
“I think once I get into a full-time position I will be able to budget and work towards my goal, which is to own my own business.”
She added: “My whole mentality has changed. With me going to all the women empowerment sessions, I respect women more, I want to show them love.
“I’m looking at other women as my sisters now, because we all have something that we’re going through.”
Elaine Butterfield, the WRC executive director, said last week that the programme included sessions on self-esteem and money management.
She added that tailored programmes were being designed to cater to individual needs, such as counselling and psychosocial skills.
It is expected that the scheme will expand to include 20 women in its second and third years, when it will be transferred from the charity’s base on Church Street, to the Transformational Living Centre for Families being developed in Pembroke, by the WRC and Habitat for Humanity of Bermuda.
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