Here’s what we got up to this International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month 2023!
28 March 2023
By Hannah Uguru
As Women’s History Month draws to a close, we’re looking back on our International Women’s Day Wellbeing Gathering that took place on 8 March with fondness. Hosted at the Williamson Street Community Centre in the heart of Islington via our Women’s Hub, it was a brilliant time to organise and celebrate the diverse women who provide and access our services. Learn about The Maya Centre’s impact on local women below!
On discovering The Maya Centre
The Maya Centre offers trauma-informed, culturally sensitive, counselling and support for women. From domestic violence to bereavement and loss to migration trauma, and more, our services are available in up to 14 languages, meaning that we come into contact with those from all walks of life.
Marianne, who has Nigerian and Scottish heritage, is an example of one of these varied connections. After experiencing a series of many deaths among close friends and family, she was referred to us by her doctor, who recognised The Maya Centre as best placed to support her through her trauma, “At the moment, I’m having bereavement and loss counselling along with one-to-one trauma counselling. Last year, I completed a domestic violence psychoeducation workshop. It was my doctor who referred me to The Maya Centre because of its sub-specialism on Black women,” she shares
She details her experience with non-specialist charities and the difference she noticed, saying, “I’ve had DV and bereavement counselling over the years from other organisations, but this is the first time, culturally, I feel akin. This is the first time I feel like [my therapists] actually get it.”
Selma, another event attendee, shared that she was also first introduced to The Maya Centre by her doctor, who felt like her language preference of Portuguese and Spanish could be better met here. “I’m Brazilian, and I wanted to find somewhere where I could speak about my trauma in Portuguese or Spanish as that’s more comfortable to me,” she elaborates, “I originally sought out mental health support because my daughter had a stroke at only 20. I was also having issues in my marriage. I couldn’t deal with it all, but The Maya Centre has really helped me.”
While many women are referred to The Maya Centre by their GPs, others find their way to us through word of mouth or their own research, as was the case for Samira. “I joined The Maya Centre two years ago as part of the Black Women’s Group, where I attended a 12-week course. I learned to express my confidence as prior I was very timid and shy,” she shares. Samira has now become an integral part of our network, taking on a role as a women’s leader as part of our Women’s Hub project. “I’ve since helped develop workshops, attended various meetings, and I’m spreading the vision to other women and just making sure their voices are heard – that’s my main focus,” she explains. We’re immensely proud of her development and the impact she’s having on the Islington community.
International Women’s Day Celebrations
Our International Women’s Day Wellbeing Gathering was jam-packed with activities — from arts & crafts to face masks to group discussions to poetry. We made sure to offer a wide variety of activities to meet everyone’s needs and interests.
We’re delighted to have been able to use our event to platform local female creatives who connect their art with mental health. Angelia Linton (AKA Lia Linton) was one of our keynote speakers and a star poet who shared some of our work with us that day. Read Listen to ‘Feminist Because…’ below and read here.
Angelia’s journey into poetry started last year after some years of isolation and difficulty. “I promised myself last year that I would take back my creativity. I wrote a poem every week for a year, so today, I’ve been sharing some of them,” she says proudly. She continues, saying, “I have three feminist poems that I wrote for International Women’s Day, and another poem called ‘Burn’, which is about rising above people who try to put you down. Another of my poems, ‘Rewilding’ is about change. It was lovely to read them out altogether for the first time.”
In addition to connecting with community members on International Women’s Day, we also collaborated with fellow service providers and activists in the area to help platform the wide range of support available to women in Islington and surrounding boroughs. Speaking on this is Melissa, who works at the Community Plan for Holloway, an independent coalition of primarily local women’s groups and residents who are campaigning for affordable homes and services in Islington. “We had a stall here, and today’s just been so amazing. It was great to meet so many different people and find out about all these different ways that we can work together and do exciting projects and get more people involved in what we’re doing. We also had food prepared for us, and we all ate together, which was really lovely. We could have sat separately, but we sat together. That just felt really special,” she esteems.
Let’s keep up this vital work
With a turnout of over 50 women, our International Women’s Day Wellbeing Gathering was a huge success — but things do not end here.
Our Women’s Hub activities are subsidised through National Lottery Community Funding, which helps us produce events like these, along with wellbeing support groups and services throughout the year. Though this fund has been a massive help, we still face limitations regarding the scale and frequency with which we can do this vital work. If you see the value in what we’re doing, please consider donating and/or sharing this article with others. It really helps us out! 💜