Interview with Chara Clarke from Giving Life Opportunities to Women (GLOW) NI
Tell us a bit about yourself and/or your organisation.
Located on the street that connects the divided communities of the Falls and the Shankill, GLOW (Giving Life Opportunities to Women) was established in 2011 through a desire to help local women and girls who were suffering from a range of mental health issues stemming from trauma and/or social issues such as low income and isolation.
Chara Clarke, the visionary behind the organisation, identified an opportunity to help through the creation of personal development programmes that would encourage and guide participants in addressing mental health issues as well as setting realistic life goals that will provide a sense of purpose and fulfilment.
There are four core programmes which have been specially tailored to suit specific age groups:
– The Real Me (18+)
– LILY (10 – 13)
– Fearless & Female (14 – 17)
– GLOW Academy (18+)
All programmes are executed with the aim of achieving five outcomes for participants:
1. Increased Confidence & Self Esteem
2. Discovery of Purpose & Identity
3. Learn & Nurture Practical & Essential Life Skills
4. Guide you to living a lifestyle of positive mental health
5. Build Positive & Lasting Friendships
In addition to the programmes, GLOW also facilitate a Friday morning women’s drop-in as well as evening youth sessions for girls. These sessions provide a safe outlet for women to develop connections and friendships made from participating in the programmes.
In January 2019, GLOW received funding from the National Lottery that would enable them to establish You GLOW Girl, a social enterprise which would generate further funding to be invested back into the charity and the mental health programmes being delivered to women and young girls.
How well have you/your organisation adapted to the pandemic?
COVID-19 and lockdown measures have had (and continue to have) a major impact on GLOW as a charity.
The stay at home message and social distancing has meant our in house sessions have had to move to an online capacity which can be off putting for those who do not feel confident using digital applications such as Zoom. The content within the programmes has also been amended to facilitate Zoom sessions as practical activities and outdoor excursions have been suspended.
Fundraising events have come to a halt and a heavier focus has been placed upon the social enterprise as a way of generating income.
We would like to place focus on implementing ‘GLOW Inside Out’, an initiative which we would like health trusts and organisations to utilise through the provision of our programmes and services on a more wide scale basis. For example, we recently collaborated with perinatal charity We Are Pangs in delivering our ‘The Real Me’ programme to mothers associated with the charity.
We are continuing to see an increase in referrals to our services due to mental health especially among young girls. We are looking to train up more facilitators to help deliver more programmes. We want to create our own accredited train the trainer programme for our facilitators so support around doing this would be great.
We are looking to expand our services beyond North & West Belfast and connect with other organisations who would be interested in buying in our programmes so we would be looking for support to connect with organisations across Northern Ireland.
OFFER: What support are you currently offering and are you open to members of Community Network NI and/or the wider community making contact?
Applications for our programmes are currently open. Simply fill in the form and register your details on the form at the bottom of the page. A project worker will then be in touch to discuss available options.
We will be planning new events during the year when we have a group of volunteers put together to help with these events. Everything will be on the website when available.
If you would like to be connected with this offer of support, please follow the link below and enter “GLOW” to the first field