Women friendly Leeds blog

At this 1st Ambassador Network meeting, we welcomed members and introduced them to the two Women Friendly Leeds campaigns currently running:

  • “Shining A Light on Women’s Inequalities – This is our Normal”
  • “Switch on to Women’s Safety – This has to involve us all”.

We talked through key messages, ideas and campaign materials then broke into 4 breakout rooms where Ambassadors discussed safety, employability, mental wellbeing, or health. Each group fed back one key action or change they wanted to see and each individual made a pledge for how they could support that change. The breakout rooms generated some enthusiastic conversations and commitments for moving forward with the campaigns. Here is just a short summary of each of the discussions ambassadors delved into:

Safety:

Ambassadors in the “safety” breakout room agreed that a safety survey was a good tool to collect women’s voices on key priorities for improving public safety. There was support, too, for a survey for men to be designed in conversation with the women’s survey. The group emphasised the need to direct messages towards men’s behaviour. Ambassadors also commented that safety for women could improve general safety.

Fresh debate also arose around WFL’s vision in relation to implementing a strategy to improve safety i.e. Should WFL be more radical activists taking an overtly feminist agenda forward or should WFL focus on getting around the table for a widespread buy-in for WFL (including reaching men who are not currently involved)?

There was also discussion on the realities of widespread misogyny and the negative impact of the pandemic on women’s experiences.

Employability:

Ambassadors in the “employability” breakout room identified a consistent theme in women lacking confidence to apply for roles. They suggested conducting more research to further explore the barriers behind this. They also shared ideas on how organisations could reframe applications to make them friendlier i.e. by removing unnecessary essential criteria, offering flexible hours and welcoming applications from people returning from career breaks or without previous paid employment. Questions also arose around how to support women to confidently capture experience from a non-professional setting when applying for paid employment.

Wellbeing:

Ambassadors in the “wellbeing” group loved the idea that a WFL app could be used as a tool to find and access groups and services for mental health and wellbeing. They identified that women can lack confidence to join new groups and encouraged the importance of taking small steps and sharing things with people going through similar experiences.

Health:

Ambassadors identified barriers to accessing healthcare services, including fear, embarrassment, confidentiality, safety issues, and language barriers, as well as practical issues like long phoneline queues, which are unhelpful for people ringing in crisis. They suggested that communicating clear, reasonable, patient-friendly service standards and expectations were key with the success of outcomes around these standards then being tracked using a patient experience survey.

Here’s just a sample of the pledges made by our ambassadors on these themes:

  • “My pledge is to champion [the new career coaching service] work across the city, and make sure that any woman needing a boost of confidence has access to that service.”
  • “To help Women Friendly Leeds with the safety survey.”
  • “Continue to have conversations with the women I work with about safety. I will also talk to my colleagues who work with men about how they can have conversations about how men can change their behaviours to support women, and make them aware of the survey that’s coming out.”
  • “My pledge is to gather stories from women I work with about their experience trying to access mental health support and the reasons behind them not accessing that”
  • “To offer language support for those who need it through ASHA”

The final joint conversation at the meeting was about ways and frequency of communicating with Ambassadors. Feedback indicated that some liked newsletters, but others preferred regular, perhaps monthly, meet ups to feedback, check progress, and link into what’s happening. Ambassadors emphasised their enthusiasm for their roles to help form an interactive, mutual space, where they could help shape messages, take action and add value to WFL strategy.

If you would like to attend our next Ambassadors meeting, make sure to sign up as an Ambassador here. Our next meeting is on 27th May 2021. You can access your free tickets here.

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April 23, 2021

Emily

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