Roots to confidence

Mood board and felting materials

Community Links Scotland were appointed by Dunbritton Housing Association to work with Dumbarton District Women's Aid (DDWA) as part of their Wider Role regeneration plans and to help develop projects which supported these activities.

Dumbarton District Women's Aid (DDWA) provides refuge for women and their children fleeing domestic abuse, offering a safe, secure environment. As well as providing refuge for women, DDWA provide activities that enhance women's confidence and self esteem and develops skills that can be transferable to independent living. In discussion with DDWA it was agreed that the first project would focus on developing the refuge garden and skills the women could learn linked to this.

Firstly, we secured funding from Community Food and Health Scotland, The Scottish Government's Wider Role Fund, European Social Fund and contribution from DDWA. Choosing the most suitable organisations to help women participants and the project development was vital to the success of Roots to Confidence, more importantly having the positive influence of female role models to encourage the women participate in the activities and to help in the progression of their recovery.

CLS brought together many partner organisations to implement the project. Onto Work, an employability service, delivered a STEPS TO EXELLENCE course, which gave women an opportunity to look at the areas in their life they wanted to change by working towards improving self esteem and confidence. A visit to Geilston Gardens and an inspiring tour by the female head gardener helped develop ideas for the women's own garden; thinking about colour, shape and textures of plants and flowers. As a result of this visit, women developed their ideas with the continual support of DDWA, a one of our landscape architects and a training team.

Additional partners identified by CLS were West Dunbartonshire Council's Land Services and Employability Services. Women took part in horticultural sessions and although supported by the presence of women, the course was - agreed by the women participants - taught by a male instructor. This was very successful and certainly helped women's confidence and helped lead them further on the road to recovery. Work Connect, selected by CLS, further supported women through a cookery on budget course that helped them to build independence for the time beyond living at the refuge. The women were taught how to cook inexpensive meals from the fruit and vegetables that can be grown from the garden. The final workshops were two taster sessions in felt flowers and felt broach making. Taught by a community artist trained in how to engage with individuals that are social isolated, the artist encouraged women to try out these new activities, which motivated them to try out new activities later that year.

The project was well received by the women and has enabled them to communicate with others outside of the refuge. CLS developed a further phase of Roots to Confidence, this time identifying new partners to offer new skills in IT and Childcare.