Scottish Women in Business (SWIB) President, Liz Taylor, visits Inverclyde Hub

Scottish Women in Business (swib) was delighted to announce in October 2015 that their charity of the year was WEvolution. Our aim is to support a different charitable organisation every year, nominated by a member, ideally which is Glasgow-based and that the money donated over the year can make a tangible difference to the organisation, not just “get lost” on a larger corporate balance sheet. But it’s not just about the cash! Over the previous two years, we had learned that providing the skills of some of our membership was just as valuable to the organisations we had already supported – members would willingly donate their time and their skills to assist.

I wanted to see, at first- hand, WEvolution in action. So I joined a group of women (and a couple of men) and their project leader, Marion Morrison in Greenock at their Hub located in a church hall, one Friday morning. The first thing that struck me was the energy in the room. It was buzzing with conversation. There was laughter, the sound of children playing very happily together and a huge amount of creativity on display amongst the tables. The tables themselves were laden with a range of materials including wool, card, glitter, ribbon with women engrossed in a range of creative tasks, producing lovely items such as a christening shawl, gift cards and soft toys. This group has named itself “Five Mummies Make” which already has the feeling of great things ahead.

The Hub fulfils a number of roles. First, it provides the meeting point for all who attend every week, and not all from the same part of town. I was struck by the fact that some of these relationships and friendships might not have blossomed had it not been for this project. It’s located in a safe environment for both women and their pre-school children. The women have a sense of purpose and the chance to develop new skills or to develop existing skills. It encourages women to value themselves and to gain (or regain) confidence. All businesses need to start somewhere – and why not in an environment like this?

Talking to the women about WEvolution, it was very clear that there were terrific personal stories and they were very open about their circumstances – women overcoming bouts of serious depression because they had the focus, the friendships and the support of the Hub, women growing in confidence through the work and encouragement of the group. In one case, someone had difficulty leaving her house due to deep-seated anxiety and now she finds herself representing the group in meetings outside Scotland, speaking to women from other parts of the world about the work of WEvolution in her home town.

Self-reliant groups are an important way forward for Scotland’s economy and their benefits, just in a short time, seem significant. Ultimately, their effects can bind a community together. The women I met could very succinctly articulate the changes that had happened in their lives – this not only has an impact on them as individuals but on their partners, children, wider family members, friends and the community in which they live. This might include improved general wellbeing and health, the opportunity to create sustainable businesses and to develop a range of skills, some of which are already being shared. SRGs create hope.

I am impressed by the work inspired by WEvolution and their ethos, delighted that swib can help to raise awareness of their work, encourage swib members to share their time and skills with the various groups in the West of Scotland as well as fundraise is a small way to help these self-reliant groups to thrive.