As part of PatHERways London project, last weekend in November was reserved for a group of 10 young BAME woman who, together with Yvonne Field, Marija Biljan and Serieta Mullings from the Ubele Initiative, gathered in a big cosy house in Darsham, Suffolk.
Below are two articles written by Saffron N Johnson and Marija Biljan, who both participated in the Residential weekend.
Saffron N Johnson
In the time that led up to what turned out be a memorable trip, I met up with a group of like minded woman; women who were ruled by change, and a wanting to see the world in a new place.
At sessions we were introduced, and quickly became acquaintances as we moved through each workshop learning and discussing about society and the impact it had on us as BAME women. Each of us had projects that we were working on, all those that were made to bring groups together, provide opportunities and raise awareness on issues that affect our communities.
All these workshops led to an empowering weekend retreat in Darsham, where we came together as sisters sharing our individual projects and seeing how each of us could help each other through skill sharing. With issues being touched on like mental health, and the lack of awareness around it, to how living in low-income areas with less access to opportunities and resources influences us as PoC, and the communities that we are in; all projects were ambitious and revolved around social change.
The PathHERways weekend together was much more than workshops and projects; it was also about bonding, creating a network of likeminded women, coming together as one and being connected by our experiences. With family set meals, and an evening spent laughing and drinking around a campfire, each one of us left that weekend with new friends, strength and information to continue our projects, and a sense of knowing that we are not alone.
The Residential weekend was dedicated to spending quality time together, learning new skills and developing and sharing their own ideas.
After a lively evening opening with group dinner on Friday, the rest of the weekend was dedicated to different sessions and group activities.
Saturday morning workshop was held by Serieta who encouraged and supported all the participants in their personal project planning. They got to think and work on their own project ideas and develop a plan for their future goals.
The afternoon session, held by Marija, was dedicated to community mapping. Through interactive workshop, we started exploring different ways of perceiving ourselves in space and place. We used real and abstract maps to think about places that are important to us in London, but also outside of it. By mapping our own London, we discovered where are our memories placed, but also where would we like to take new steps in the future.
Community mapping is an interactive and creative way of discovering connections people have in and with space. It is a tool that can be used to reflect on certain aspects of the identity, such as belonging and home. Moreover, it serves as a way of visualising the future and where do we want to be. At the same time, as a group exercise, it improves group cohesion and strengthens its bonds.
This session was an introduction to the main community mapping that will take place on 5th December in Karibu Centre in London.
The rest of the weekend was spent in good atmosphere; eating, singing by the fire, learning from each other. The time and place permitted creating a safe space that is needed for a group of young women. They took new knowledge and shared their own skills with others. They created stronger connections and made plans for their future actions as BAME young leaders.