Cardiff Women’s Aid: to empower her to rebuild her life

How does Cardiff Women’s Aid help women to empower themselves and de-stress, and how can we be inspired by their example?

Women attending the painting workshop are trying to draw the color of the sky before sunrise.

Alexandra Congreve, volunteer coordinator of Cardiff Women’s Aid, helps women to empower themselves and de-stress from their daily life.

She works with women who have been affected by violence and domestic abuse.

“The male voice and males, in general, what they have attached to them is a kind of power and they are seen as strong and responsible. I think that sadly, women, have stereotypes attached to them where we can be seen as a less,” says Congreve.

She has gained the experience of working for several charity organisations and become concerned about women’s health.

She said that due to historic reasons, men have been used to enjoying privileged status, but some never realised that.

Fiby suggests Oghogho try to tilt the nib 45 degrees.

Even Alexandra, who is a brave and independent young lady, has faced discrimination at work before. When she was working for a recycling organisation, some male volunteers did not show their respect as they should do.

“If I ever had volunteers that made inappropriate comments to me that were of a sexual nature, I sat down with them and just explained to them that it is not acceptable for them to make me uncomfortable where we’re working in the same environment and equally trying to work towards the same goals. Their attitude is dated from the past, so they can’t continue that way.”

These males did not change their attitudes from that completely, even though some of them will behave better for a while. Alexandra thinks that they maybe do not want to be challenged in any way.

She said that conflict should be the last thing anyone would like to face, so trying to avoid conflict with whoever treats you improperly is important. If they got angry, you may find yourself in a more vulnerable position.

Women and girls need to learn how to protect themselves, she said.

Alexandra used to be an English teacher in Mexico. This experience makes her believe that learning skills could help women to be empowered. So when she applied it to her work, the multiple workshops were arranged.

Ten workshops could be attended every week, including writing sewing, dancing and T’ai Chi as well. Alexandra says that all these workshops are aiming at improving women’s life in Cardiff.

Fiby, who is a volunteer in the organization, is in charge of running the painting one. It is held on every Tuesday and tended to be the longest-lasting workshop.

“I don’t really teach them. It’s not a lesson. It’s more like we are all painting the same picture, so they don’t have to do in a certain way. I think that’s why it is less stressful to do an art lesson,” said Fiby. She gets her degree in psychology and is working for a master’s degree.

Fiby explained that everybody including herself is leading a stressful and fast-paced life, especially for women. They are performing more duty in their family and under more stress in their office. “It is necessary to have one hour or two every week without thinking about the outside world, but just thinking the picture which is on the board.”

The reason for Oghogho keeping coming for almost six months is the relaxed atmosphere as well. She said that she first came for interest, but she has really enjoyed the feeling when she was painting, calm and peaceful.

Oghogho who is 27 is looking for a job in Cardiff, and she is quite satisfied with her progress in painting in recent months.

Alexandra said that these courses are more like a kind of art therapy, offering women an opportunity to get rid of their stressful daily life. However, it is quite different from a therapy session.

“We never push people to talk about their life, career or relationship,” she says. “Everybody feels free to say the topic which makes them relaxed.

“We also offer counseling for the people in need, and it will be private and we have professional counsellors to help them.”

Approximately 50 staff are working for the Cardiff Women’s Aid, and all of them are females. Some of them were abused in the past, but now they are recovered and full of courage and want to help others who have been facing the same problems.

Alexandra wants every female who is involved in violence or domestic abuse to know that they are not the one should be blamed. If Cardiff Women’s Aid cannot figure it out, they may co-work with other organisations who are specially dealing with male problems.

She said: “They need to know that they are not weak or alone, Cardiff Women’s Aid is always ready for helping them. The call is available 24/7.”

Cardiff Women’s Aid can be contacted on 029 2046 0566 for specialist domestic and sexual violence services from crisis intervention to aftercare and recover, prevention and education.

Fiby is doing the last adjustment of her painting.

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