WOW! factor

Harnessing the WOW factor….Women of Willenhall group was not rocket science – simply having a safe place to meet, talk and have fun once a week means a lot to the Women of Willenhall (WOW) group.

They meet on a Thursday morning in the heart of Willenhall and although the group has only been going for a couple of months it’s already having a big impact on the lives of the women who’ve joined in.

Women who lived close to each other – often in the same street – knew each other by sight but had never talked together until they’d met up at the WOW group. Now they enjoy stopping for a catch up in the street when they see each other outside group meetings.

The weekly sessions are informal (some mums bring their children along with them) but usually focus on a topic that’s important. Over the past few weeks they’ve talked about healthy relationships and politics – sharing their views, supporting each other and providing practical help and support to each other when it’s needed.

“It’s about making friends, learning and taking on board things,” says Tammy, who’s been going to weekly meetings since they began.

There’s nothing we don’t discuss and we know we can keep it confidential.”

The warm, supportive atmosphere of the group has given many of its members confidence to speak up, share their thoughts and seek advice on issues that are important to them. Linda, the group’s leader, has been key to creating the safe environment that’s helping these women to flourish.

She’s part of the Ignite programme, led by Coventry Law Centre and Grapevine, which is showing how acting early on problems not only saves public money but turns lives around.

The WOW group is a great example of how small, simple activities make a real difference to people’s lives – in this case it’s a room in a neighbourhood centre, a group of women who want to make friends and support each other and the professional skills of a leader like Linda who’s providing the right environment for a group of women to take control themselves.

“Not yet, but one day we’ll be able to run this group ourselves,” says Tammy.