Course helped woman grow in confidence and gain jobs
Women chosen for a charity-run course to help them change their lives completed it with new qualifications, increased confidence and employment.
Success stories from the Transformational Support Services programme even included the launch of a new business.
Rita Jones, who took part in the pilot scheme, said: “It’s changed my life, for sure.
“I’m a much stronger minded person, I’m more confident, I feel like I’m more educated as well and equipped to handle whatever life brings my way now.
“With the skills that I received throughout the course and all the conferences and classes I took, I feel like I’m ready for the world no matter what it brings.”
Ms Jones said that before she started the programme in 2019 she went “from job to job” without a clear goal and lacked confidence.
Her resume has since been boosted by certificates in QuickBooks – an accounting software package – and from Saving Children and Revealing Secrets – a child sexual abuse prevention charity.
Ms Jones took an eight-week entrepreneurship course run by the Bermuda Economic Development Corporation thanks to her involvement in the Women’s Resource Centre programme and also completed CPR training.
She has been employed full-time since June and is thinking about business opportunities.
A WRC spokeswoman said that ten women were selected for the programme and seven successfully completed it.
She added: “One woman has started her own business. Three women have started their GEDs with the Adult Education School.
“Three women are now employed and two are seeking employment. Two women will soon come off of Financial Assistance as a result of participating in the programme.”
She said the course was developed by the WRC “to address the recognised need to provide wraparound support services for women and their families in vulnerable situations”.
The pilot programme was fully funded by HSBC but the coronavirus pandemic had “a tremendous impact on the timing of the programme schedules”.
The spokeswoman explained: “Many trainings were delayed and we were challenged with keeping the participants motivated while they were managing the stress of home schooling, job losses, caregiving challenges all while trying to participate and excel in the programme.
“The WRC commends the participants for hanging in until the end in spite of the additional challenges that Covid presented.”
She said that a mentoring partnership with HSBC could not be fulfilled because of the pandemic, to the “great disappointment” of everyone involved, including the team from the bank.
But Ingrid Welch, another participant, thought that even setbacks became opportunities to reflect and reinvent,
She said: “I believe that I’ve grown, I’ve taken a good look at myself.
“Yes, there were a few disappointments along the way because we were so close to getting some mentoring with HSBC, those that were involved were looking forward to that.
“I think that would have been a great stepping stone into possibly something that could have led us to that job that would have given us security.”
Ms Welch added: “I’ve taken bits throughout the programme and the workshops and I’ve put them all in a little file.
“I’m gradually working to find this balance in my life and really get to know who I am so that I can work towards my short-term and long-term goals.”
She said a camaraderie developed between the women.
Ms Welch added: “Covid has caused a lot of isolation, as human beings we need that connection, as women we need that connection.”
She believed the programme could be a “foundation” for more women to share their stories and support each other.
She said: “I can see it growing and expanding.
“For me, it’s another corner of Bermuda and another section that I see as something that could just be one of those pillars of strength in the community that can support women, particularly those that are struggling to fit in or find those resources.”
Ms Welch added: “The one thing that I think this programme and the whole experience has really made me appreciate most is to really have gratitude for what I do have and be in the now; really cherish my relationships with those that I love and really think about what are my gifts and my passions, what I could do down the road that could be of benefit to others.”
Tina Ray described her experience in the programme as “enriching and informative”.
She said: “The pilot programme offered a lot of opportunities for personal development collectively and as individuals.
“We all had different situations and the programme did the best to meet all the needs with the resources available.”
Ms Ray added that the scheme was “much needed” and, with more backing, could benefit many other people.
She said: “It would have an impact on the social issues we have in Bermuda.”
Ms Ray said: “It’s given me tools to make better decisions, have more of a positive outlook.”
She added: “It’s up to me now to use the tools that I’ve been given.”
In a message to any future participants, Ms Ray said: “Take advantage of the opportunity that’s presented … things like this don’t come by often.
“It’s something that will help get you out of the slump and into new hope.”
Malika Gumbs was pleased to be able to achieve certificates in CPR and Scars through the programme.
She said: “I got to meet different women and hear their stories."
Helping her children with remote learning means that she is unable to look for employment now but she hoped a job is on the horizon.
Ms Gumbs added: “I want to go back to school and better myself. I know this is not the end here.”
She said: “You need programmes like this, you need people that are going to believe in you as much as possible.”
The WRC spokeswoman said it was hoped a “graduation ceremony” could be held.
She explained that it would “celebrate the success of the programme while promoting it in the community, but more importantly, celebrate the commitment and achievement of the participants”.