Women migrants in Leeds City Region are benefitting from extra support finding employment, thanks to local Connecting Opportunities scheme.

Connecting Opportunities helps migrants to develop the skills they need to get jobs in the UK and to learn more English, feel part of the community and increase their confidence and well-being. The project is having particular success in helping women migrants, with women making up 60% of current participants.  The project is funded by the European Social Fund and the National Lottery, through the Big Lottery Fund.

“It’s still early days, but already we are hearing from women participants that they are feeling less isolated and more empowered; they now have raised aspirations, with some feeling more confident, or achieving financial independence for the first time,” says Kate Smith, a Project Manager at the WomenCentre, which is playing a key advisory role on Connecting Opportunities. “Our impact is partly down to the fact that we offer women-only activities, and female keyworkers and interpreters where appropriate, to enable all women to access the project, no matter how many barriers they face.”

Tina, a Key Worker at the project, adds “Many clients have dreams of what they want to achieve in their new life in the UK.  Due to the complex issues they face, they can often feel hopeless and dismiss their plans as impossible. Women-centred ways of working put a focus on empowerment, helping people feel confident in themselves and their skills in an unfamiliar environment.”

“As we look to the future, we are committed to the design and delivery of more holistic and responsive services and opportunities for women,” says Jennie McCreight, Service Manager at Touchstone, another partner on the project. “International Women’s Day this year calls on everyone to #PressforProgress for all women. We believe that the aspirations and actions set in motion by women-centred ways of working will influence generations to come and help to catalyse change for women everywhere.”

To find out more about Connecting Opportunities visit their website at www.connectingopportunities.org.uk

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International Women’s Day is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. WomenCentre is celebrating International Women’s Day by encouraging women to take as many pairs of shoes as possible to the Piece Hall, Halifax at 8.30am or St George’s Square, Huddersfield at 1.30pm. The shoes will be set out to represent the strong women supported by WomenCentre and the shoes they walk in. To find out more about WomenCentre visit their website at www.womencentre.org.uk