WOW, or Women of Worth, an organisation run by women for women, is appealing for financial help as an annual funding award of £5,000 from the Scottish Community Women’s Fund comes to an end.
WoW receives no money from statutory bodies or Shetland Charitable Trust. Despite having recently received one year’s part funding, in the form of £6,000 from Lloyds TSB, £1,000 from the Albert Hunt Trust and £500 from SHOARD, Whalsay, WoW is facing a financial crisis.
A spokeswoman said the organisation was delighted with the financial assistance it has received and was grateful to Shetland Link-Up which waived one year’s rent and overheads.
She said: “We have been turned down by several potential funders last year, including The Big Lottery and Comic Relief. These days most funders are looking for immediate and tangible results, such as clients moving quickly through the service. Many WoW members eventually become well enough to return to employment or further education, but this can, at times, be a slow, one step forward two steps back, process.
“WoW provides support for women who are experiencing emotional difficulties or problems with mental health. Meetings take place in a relaxed and informal atmosphere with a cooked lunch in exchange for a small donation. We also provide peer support, a range of activities, including twice-monthly outings, and an annual weekend retreat.”
The organisation helps its clients to access services and community facilities. It provides a lot of fun for women who are not only coping with the effects of long-term ill health but, because of the nature of their illness, are also frequently faced with isolation and prejudice.
To many, WoW is a lifeline, as the following remarks by women who have been helped suggests: “When I’m feeling down I know I have somewhere to go to. I can just be myself there; they see the person, not the illness. I can make new friends, learn new skills and sit and chat amongst people I trust. Nobody judges me, and everybody understands the fear I have of just leaving the house, it’s a task in itself. That’s why I enjoy the outings twice a month, as I need support to do these things.”
“As a single parent with long-term depression, the group gives me the chance to talk about what’s going on in my life. I receive advice from those who have gone through similar problems, and one-to-one counselling when I need it. WoW has given me an enthusiasm for life, and is something to look forward to.”
Shetland, unlike the Western Isles, has no psychiatric beds locally, and psychiatric admissions come at a great cost to all concerned. Apart from the financial implications for NHS Shetland, there is also disruption to family life. Many WoW members are single parents, which means children may have to be taken into care during a mother’s, often lengthy, hospital stay on the Scottish mainland. This can be highly stressful for the women concerned, and often slows down their recovery. The service WoW provides during such crises, at times with additional support in the form of home visits or regular telephone contact, has on many occasions helped to avert hospital admissions.
The spokewsoman added: “In the past, funding uncertainties and consequential reductions in service have proved highly unsettling to WoW members, depriving them of much needed continuous support. Now we are sadly faced with the same situation again. We applied for three years’ part funding from Lloyds TSB, but received only enough for one year. This means promised match funding from The Robertson’s Trust could now be in jeopardy. We won’t be able to cover our running costs with the cash we have in the bank, and are forced, once again, to look at a reduction in services.
“It would be ideal if secure, long-term funding, or at least part of it, could be found from the statutory bodies and/or Shetland Charitable Trust. Unfortunately, this is not an option for the foreseeable future.
“We therefore appeal to the Shetland community as a whole to help us to continue our service, which brings much of the security and stability needed by some of the most marginalised, vulnerable and disadvantaged members of our society.”
Donations from individuals, businesses or organisations, however small, will be gratefully received (contact details below). The WoW drop-in is open every Monday and Thursday from 11am to 2pm, at the Link-Up premises, 8 Commercial Street Lerwick, ZE1 OAN, and everybody receives a warm welcome. You can also contact us by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or telephone (01595) 693313.