Women participating in Oxfam’s Future Skills project have access to personalised professional coaching, tailored volunteer placements in Oxfam shops and educational group workshops.
Here, Future Skills coach Amanda Mezzullo reflects on the experiences of the women she’s met via the project.
People often just need to be heard. When you give people a voice, you give them power to effect change in their life.
All of the women I have coached through the Future Skills project have taken significant steps forward and I am so proud of each and every one of them.
This project has been a joy to be a part of. So many elements were combined to ensure all the women were fully supported.
From my perspective, it has been a privilege to meet these remarkable women. Some of their stories have been heart-breaking, but what I found truly astonishing was the resilience many of them displayed.
Working with the refugee women, in particular, was an eye-opening experience. It saddened me to hear about the level of prejudice and hostility many of them have encountered in Scotland; with some of the women experiencing racist and verbal abuse from their neighbours.
Coaching these women to have self belief and to acknowledge their own worth has been challenging, but it would be fair to say this initiative has, thankfully, shown the other side of Scotland. The organisers, the shop staff and all of the coaches have worked hard to equip these women to make the changes they want in life, with passion and confidence.
When I start working with a coachee, we set what is called an inspirational goal. For many it can be tough to think about what they really want. It can seem completely unachievable. My role is to break it down into manageable chunks. Taking small steps consistently can often bring about what it is we most desire. The coaching simply encouraged the women to set actions, to follow them through and to witness the impact. They each decided what they wanted, figured out how to achieve it and set about making those changes.
Fear is always the biggest hurdle. Fear of failure. Fear of rejection. Fear of others. Unpicking all that takes time and hard work. Coaching is not for everyone. People can be resistant to change, even when their situations are intolerable, but the women I coached through Future Skills all committed to pushing themselves. The journey doesn’t end when the coaching is complete though. In fact, it’s just the beginning.
It never does cease to amaze me the impact that coaching can have. When you see someone have a breakthrough, well, it’s quite something else. The challenge is to keep the momentum going.
Future Skills has been an ideal springboard. It has helped all of the women to feel a part of society. We are, after all, social beings. We need interaction. We need to be heard. I, for my part, just listened.