Making a difference in the BAME community 

A group of women from the BAME community have turned their lives around with help from a pioneering project.

The women have all been part of the Step Forward Tees Valley project which has been working with Nur Fitness in Middlesbrough to reach some of the most isolated people in the community.

Step Forward Tees Valley gives bespoke one-to-one support to people to help them overcome issues that are stopping them finding work or training. Issues can include ill health; low self confidence; depression; lack of skills; substance misuse and many more.

Since it began three years ago, Step Forward Tees Valley has helped hundreds of people overcome barriers, boost their self esteem, improve their skills and move forward with their lives. Many have started work, training or volunteering for the first time.

Working with Nur Fitness, the project has been inspiring women from the BAME community to improve their skills, look for work and become more involved in the community.

As well as offering courses in appropriate settings for the women, the group has also held fitness and social sessions to encarouge the women to socialise outside their families.

Many of the women have taken courses including health and social care, childcare, English and maths. For some this has led to work and self employment but the benefits of their work with Step Forward Tees Valley goes beyond finding a job.

Amongst the inspirational stories are:

  • A lady who has gone to Yemen to help her son suffering from mental illness. She made the decision to go, based on what she had learned on a mental health awareness programme

  • One lady was very withdrawn but has come on in leaps and bounds with her socialising skills and is now part of a group that helps female refugees settle into the Teesside area

  • A lady has set up a business from home providing tution in Arabic and French and has even designed her own business cards

  • The programme has helped one lady with her depression, especially through an increase in physical exercise

  • One woman has found a job as a lunch time assistant in a school and is thinking of going back to university to finish her masters degree

  • One lady’s outlook has totally changed. She was very negative and pessimistic but has become more positive and is starting to engage back into the community

  • One lady was very motivated but struggled with writing job applications. She has now found her first job in a cleaning company.

Andrea Johnson, programme manager, said: “Many of these women have become socially isolated due to cultural constraints, so getting involved with Step Forward Tees Valley has been life changing.  The progress made by participants has been incredibly inspirational and I am proud that the project has been the starting point for some transformational journeys”

The project is funded by the European Social Fund and The National Lottery Community Fund.


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