Despite all the challenges of Covid 19 we managed to run a full programme since the lockdown started, moving everything online to the zoom platform. Thanks to regular feedback from our participants we were able to adjust the programme to respond to their needs.
Of course everyone missed the direct contact and we know that nothing beats meeting in person and chatting over cups of tea. What it has reinforced for us is the strong sense of solidarity within Moving On and what a great support participants are for each other. We know that many participants found the lockdown a welcome escape from hectic modern life, while others found it lonely and challenging on many levels.
Our last big group together before the lock down was the wonderful event for International Women’s Day in association with TIRC and our sisters from the Direct Provision Centre in Tralee. It was a joyful event followed by the sadness at the passing of Shahidah Janjua the following week. Shahidah was a poet and powerful advocate for human rights and women in particular. She is a huge loss for us all.
“If we go back to the knowledge of our ancestors, we will know how to live in safety. We will learn how to survive and thrive, to have sanity, to have peace of mind. To slow down, breathe and live in harmony with our surroundings”- Shahidah Janjua, IWD 2020, RIP
Since the lockdown we hosted Virtual Tea Breaks/Check In’s three mornings a week. We hosted different speakers every Wednesday. Karen O Reilly from Employmum started us off with a great talk on how to use zoom effectively. The Women in Business series provided powerful insights into the experiences of women who are successfully running their own businesses: Bernie Falvey; Breeda Hurley; Breda Joy and Norah Casey.
We also ran a series of Inspiring Women talks which were indeed truly inspiring and invigorating. Caitriona Riordan from Elevate facilitated a very practical session on relaxation with lots of tips on how to protect our mental health. Dee Keogh presented a session on ‘Putting your best self forward’. Many of you will know Dee from the STEPS programme which is supported by SICAP within NEWKD (The Social Inclusion and Activation Programme).
Orla Diffily fashion stylist with RTE Today gave some great tips on sustainable fashion and dressing for work in the ‘New Normal’. Astrid Longhurst’s Mindful Movement found us all moving and grooving, as a way to de-stress and connect to the power within. Artist Aideen Barry talked about the importance of ‘not taking no as an answer’ and going for your dreams and goals. She talked about going to space with a hoover and making art inspired by motherhood throughout lockdown.
During the lockdown, many participants found themselves juggling multiple roles as employees, mothers, teachers, homemakers and much more. Many women were trying to find ways to support their children and teenagers so we were delighted to be able to run a programme with Dermot McNamara for a few weeks which focused on practical tools for resilience. The feedback was very positive and we were delighted to have Dermot in also for one of our Wednesday talks. Lots of women were
interested in exploring options around further education and training and it was great to have the information morning with the KETB and the Local Employment Service. We were delighted to see so many women taking the opportunity to update their CVs and apply for jobs or develop business ideas. The 8 week Start your own Business Course with Mary Beary (Manage My Career) also proved very popular and successful. We are delighted to see so many great start up ideas and projects taking off. And of course we were delighted to have our very own Mary Quirke hosting a creative writing course.
Speaking of writing, we produced weekly newsletters during lockdown with great contributions from participants including their personal journeys, photos, short stories and poems. We are now trying to plan for the future in line with government guidelines. We know the future is uncertain in many ways but we look forward to moving on together.