MsMissMrs: recovery and empowerment for women
20th September 2018
Louise McAllister, Operations Manager at Glasgow based social enterprise MsMissMrs, tells us about the work they are doing to help women regain the resilience they may have lost along the way.
No two recoveries look the same, and it can be a lonely fight. For women in particular this can often mean an internal tug-of-war, trying to believe you deserve to prioritise your own wellbeing in a world which often tells you, you don’t. MsMissMrs was set up to bridge that gap, helping women develop the skills to lead happy, fulfilled lives while making choices rooted in self-care.
We are a Glasgow-based social enterprise running programmes for women who have had a difficult life journey. Through our workshops, we look to empower women and help them regain the resilience they may have lost along the way. Recovery, to us, must involve accepting responsibility for ones own mental, physical, emotional and social wellbeing with an understanding that this isn’t a reward, but a necessity. It’s our goal that, through helping vulnerable women feel empowered to make sustainable changes to their own lives, their families and communities will feel the benefits too.
Through our ASDAN-accredited, 6-week Get SET (self-empowerment tools) programme, we offer a variety of carefully selected activities to instil a sense of mindfulness into the women we work with – think stress management, yoga, arts workshops, lessons in nutrition/good sleep hygiene, meditation, ecotherapy, drama and music classes (to name just a few). Many of the women we work with find themselves at an intersection of social, economic or psychological disadvantage, and so a safe space which offers friendship and understanding can be hard to come by. We provide support, the opportunity to build on those emotional foundations and, most of the time, a cup of tea and a laugh.
We help women develop the confidence to take back control of their own paths. This can involve anything from being able to set healthy boundaries in relationships or set goals and stick to them, to the perceivably mundane like keeping up with GP appointments and eating well. Each is a thread holding you and your wellbeing together. With a view to tackling the wellbeing inequalities faced by women, some of the areas we target through our workshops include self-esteem, body image, effective communication, healthy relationships, positive/negative self-talk and personal values. It’s our understanding that for women living in chaos, these can often be the first skills lost.
Founded in 2013, over 200 women have come through the doors of our community hub to take a step forward in their own recoveries. The hub is friendly and relaxed, and we know that the visit may be the only respite some women get from life’s daily stressors. Many of our activities are funded by the sale of our signature self-empowerment pants – ethically produced and distributed underwear which aims to remind every woman that she is the superhero she needs. We have also worked with several agencies, providing training for the implementation of our programmes for women from all backgrounds. Megan was recovering from an eating disorder when she came across a social media notice advertising creative writing classes at the MsMissMrs hub. At the time, she had recovered physically but says she was living a “half life” in perpetual fear of failure and rejection. Megan said:
I was still emotionally withdrawn, isolated and did not believe I would or could have a hopeful and fulfilling life.
She signed up, and says that from first stepping into the hub she knew it was going to “hold an important and solid place in [her] life journey”. She continues:
Meeting other women from many different walks of life, listening to their stories and seeing the positive changes they were able to make in their lives through the empowerment programme gave me the courage to take risks and make changes in my own life.
I have experienced and witnessed first-hand just how transforming and important this project is. I will be forever grateful to the post that brought me out of my flat and into life.
Megan knows that recovery isn’t a linear process, saying that she experiences dips and is tempted by the destructive behaviours she worked hard to unlearn. But with the help of MsMissMrs, she has built a life she finds it easy to fight for. She commented:
I now live 4 hours from Glasgow but know Sylvia and Louise will always have a cup of tea ready for me if I’m ever in Glasgow and I can always phone or email to catch up and be grounded in whatever life throws at me. Recovery means everything to me. It means being true to myself with no sacrifice, standing for what I believe in – spreading the teaching of MsMissMrs to other girls and women and hopefully facilitate workshops in my own area at some point.
Yes, recovery can be a lonely experience. But we believe that by coming together and learning from each other, women can be empowered to take control of their own journeys.