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Building connections and sharing learning

Waterside Women’s Centre delivers educational and support programmes for women and families from the local communities and provides information on a range of issues with a signposting or referral on system for those who require specialist support.

The Centre provides a welcoming space for women to learn with free quality onsite childcare ensuring that women can access the opportunities on offer.

The Women’s Centre participated in the BCPP programme previously and applied for a further Level 2 grant of £12,000 to work with young mums and older women on a ’Healthier You’ project. The Centre partnered with Murphy’s Pharmacy and Stephen Toland, Pharmacist would be supporting the women on the BCPP project.

This project aimed to support mental and physical wellbeing as we emerged from the pandemic, raising awareness of local pharmacy services and developing connections with community organisations which play a vital role in empowering people to improve their health and wellbeing. The group of 11 women came together with the Pharmacist to co-design a programme of events. They would meet for 14 weeks to focus on the issues important to them. Ten sessions would be delivered by the Pharmacist and the remaining four sessions would be co-presented with community/voluntary organisations and Stephen, the Pharmacist.

As I learned more about the issues and concerns of the group, I gained a better and more informed understanding of the factors and conditions that impact on the women’s lives and that have a detrimental effect on health and wellbeing. Having this valuable opportunity to get to know and understand the women would never have happened without the BCPP programme.’

Stephen Toland, Pharmacist

After an energised discussion, the women decided on their programme and were excited to get started. Each week, Pharmacist Stephen updated the group on numerous services offered by the pharmacy including the minor ailments service, palliative care, smoking cessation, health checks and managing your medicines. Having the opportunity to interact with the group over a number of weeks, the pharmacist had time to explain and highlight the services on offer from the pharmacy, which some may have not been aware of thus ensuring that pharmacy services are better used by the group and their families. He also conducted health checks or MOTs as the ladies liked to call them!

The pharmacist was approachable and caring, I would have no issues contacting him for health advice in the future.’

Project Participant.

As mental health was particularly important to the group, they asked Action Mental Health to deliver the MensSana workshop, covering mental health and emotional wellbeing through a range of activities tailored to the group. The group also availed of sessions on breast cancer, menopause, gut health and healthy lifestyle. They celebrated International Women’s Day together bringing a friend along and learning about the array of health benefits from food. One participant who suffers from MS and had been shielding throughout Covid felt the BCPP project gave her the opportunity to meet other women and helped with her depression and anxiety.

These sessions delivered by external organisations ensured the group understood the support that is available for them in the wider community and also knew how to access that support. The pharmacist gained more extensive knowledge of services and support for health and social issues through these sessions.

During the 14 weeks, the women were open to develop and shared their new learning with others coming into the Centre. They tackled challenging issues through discussion and with support from each other becoming more open and confident as the weeks progressed. One participant told us ‘The CBT sessions and the information session from AMH has encouraged me to go for help.’

Another expressed her appreciation for the BCPP project saying ‘The health MOTs were a fantastic way to start the project as we find it difficult to get GP appointments - it was great to get checked out.‘

As a result of the project, there has been a greater connection and engagement between all those who have taken part. It has given all involved the opportunity to learn from each other, share experiences and develop their skills, knowledge and confidence.

Rosemary O’Doherty, Waterside Women’s Centre emphasised the benefit of the programme saying ‘As an organisation situated in an area of high social and economic disadvantage, we are acutely aware of the many inequalities and barriers that marginalised women face on a daily basis. However having the opportunity to get to know the group over a number of weeks has given us a better insight on individual issues and concerns especially those relating to the current situation. As a result, we are now in a better position to offer continued help and support and signposting on for those who need or require specialised support.‘