Following the publication of our recent Action Towards Inclusion (ATI) stats, today we’re celebrating three incredible women who took part in the project.
Several months back, we had the opportunity to visit one of our partner organisations, Kyra Women’s Project, and speak to three women who were supported by them on ATI. Louise, Katrina & Laura have each experienced some incredibly challenging circumstances throughout their lives, but with Kyra’s support they have grown into themselves, embraced their resilience, and instigated profoundly positive change in their lives and relationships.
Let’s hear their stories.
Prior to 2021 when Louise first joined Kyra & ATI, she describes being at ‘’rock bottom (…) looking after everyone except myself (…) dealing with everything alone’’. Challenges from school days, childhood, and navigating tricky familial dynamics in her life had resulted in a deep loss of confidence in herself and left her in a dark place.
Initially, Louise put off contacting Kyra but when she finally did, she met ATI keyworker Glynis and joined ESTA, a Kyra led course on developing tools and behaviours for better self-esteem. It was here she was introduced to ATI, enrolled on the project, and began receiving 1-1 support from the team.
Kyra worked with Louise to build her self-esteem back up, supporting her to enrol on courses which focused on creating healthy boundaries, and positive self-talk. Louise also got involved in group coffee mornings and activities, and she later began a Kyra counselling intervention and started Beyond 2030 course Visionary You.
Thanks to the support from ATI and Kyra, Louise has since re-discovered her confidence and a passion for counselling. Returning to education, she has recently completed a Level 2 in Counselling Skills, and since re-discovering this passion, Louise’s attitude towards herself has changed dramatically. She is now able to ‘’meet the emotional needs’’ of those around her in a healthier, less solution-focused way and her own needs first.
Here’s what Louise has to say about ATI & Kyra:
‘’You can never underestimate the importance of being listened to, actively listened to (…) I feel so much better, I’ve gone back into education, I wouldn’t have done anything like that for myself without ATI. I couldn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel before, but Glynis made me feel important. The support gave me the sense that I’m enough and should be proud of myself.’’
Laura joined ATI in February 2019, after moving from Sheffield to York following a relationship breakdown. She had not worked for four years after the birth of her son, was single parenting her two children, and experiencing isolation.
When Laura came to Kyra, she was a self-confessed ‘’over thinker’’ with ‘’no self-belief’. One to one ATI sessions focused on building up her confidence gradually through counselling sessions, goal setting, and supported job searching (amongst other things), and with the team’s encouragement, Laura later began volunteering at Kyra in an admin capacity- rebuilding her skills and confidence within the workplace.
Several years since leaving the project, Laura reports being ‘’much happier’’ and came full circle, securing her ‘’dream job’’ as an ATI keyworker at Kyra. It’s abundantly clear that she’s a great fit for the role, something her colleague Abigail corroborates- ‘’I can’t imagine you doing anything else now!’’
Following ATI’s end, Laura will be working on RISE with Kyra. Stay tuned to follow some RISE stories.
Before joining ATI in August 2021, Katrina’s confidence was ‘’non-existent’’; she was isolated and struggling with her mental health. She had left an abusive relationship, was single parenting two teenagers, and relationships with family and friends had broken down because of her ex-partner.
Although initially Katrina had received some support from mental health services, upon discharge, she found herself at a challenging intersection in her life without adequate support. Left to her ‘’own devices’’, it was shortly afterwards that she contacted Kyra, accessed ESTA, and their Route to Recovery project- a Lottery funded programme which supports women who are recovering from domestic abuse and/or mental illness.
Needing further support, Katrina later joined ATI, where she received 1-1 support with her mental wellbeing, debt, and housing issues, and began working with the team to update her CV and consider her options for the future.
Katrina’s transformation has been dramatic, going from ‘’no confidence and a shell of a person’’ to someone adventurous, liberated and much more confident. Since being involved with Kyra, Katrina has joined Cross-Fit, climbed the Three Peaks with little training, and participated in The York Rotary Dragon Boat Challenge– ‘’I wanted to push myself and see what I can do (…) I was able to spread my wings’’.
Whereas our intervention partners CAB (Citizens Advice Bureau) & Yorkshire Energy Doctor stepped in to offer financial advice to Katrina, the Kyra community built her confidence and encouraged her to return to education. Like Louise, she has since re-discovered a passion for supporting others with their mental wellbeing and has also undertaken a Level 2 in Counselling Skills, soon to be Level 3. Off the back of support she’s received, Katrina now wants to give back, and volunteer at Kyra herself in the hope of supporting other women through their service, particularly around sexual trauma- an area she hopes to specialise in later down the line.
A big thank you to Louise, Laura and Katrina for sharing your stories.
It was clear from our conversations with these three inspiring women that the support offered by Kyra Women’s Project acted as a lifeline. Kyra is a safe place for women in the community to feel like they belong, work through challenges, and have a safe environment to be themselves.
If you would like to know more about this organisation, click the link.
A keen storyteller, collaborator and engagement enthusiast, Laura works alongside Hannah as the Impact Coordinator, where she measures and highlights the impact of Better Connect across its business, programmes, and partnerships. She does so by working closely with colleagues, partners, participants, and stakeholders to gather information and stories, which she then translates into a range of engaging content across Better Connect’s channels.
Building relationships and networks is a large part of Laura’s role, alongside ensuring the ‘’Better Connect story’’ is woven throughout all communications.
Laura’s favourite part of the role is connecting with the faces behind the case studies and giving voice to their experiences.Learn more about Laura