BME, Tees Valley

A Teesside CIC is reaching out to support older BME women in the Tees Valley.

Teesside CIC help BME community

Women Today help Black African women with information, guidance and self-esteem building.

However, the group fears that older BME women in Tees Valley will be left isolated by the pandemic.

Tees Valley CIC founder

Founder Locardia Chidanyika said: “We really miss our usual workshops. But we are still trying to make a difference.

“Some of the older BME women in our community have experienced a lot more discrimination.

“Although things are changing now, they can lead a lonely life because of their past experiences.”

Though Women Today cannot run their usual workshops, they have found other ways to help. Making up food and care packs and delivering them is helping the volunteers are keeping busy.

Locardia explained: “Some don’t feel part of the community.

“One of the older women we know is terrified that she will have to go into a nursing home and be the only black person there: because she experienced a lot of racism when she came to this country.”

Durham charity help

County Durham Community Foundation have been able to support Women Today with a £3,500 grant. Due to funding from the National Emergencies Trust appeal they have been able to help lots of groups. The NET appeal is working with community foundations to make sure communities are supported.

Since the start of the pandemic, the Foundation has awarded more than £750,000 to groups like Women Today. Many groups have now applied for second grants to keep their important work going.

Locardia is one of six volunteers running Women Today’s response to the pandemic.

Locardia added: “The women we know are stressed and anxious.

“Some are having panic attacks and think they’re going to die. Some are ashamed to accept charity.

“So we are helping with food, prescriptions and sanitary products and offering reassurance. “

Women Today ran the Power to Change Programme last year – with 76 women taking part. Cookery lessons, nutritional information and peer support helped women tom improve their health.

But the project didn’t just help those who attended. Locardia said:

“We saw women changing, and when they changed, it affected their whole family. Some had husbands with diabetes and the healthier cooking improved their health. Some said they were sleeping better, or had clearer skin, or their children were asking for vegetables more.”