Women of Wythenshawe or ‘WoW’, is a new women-led poverty action network in Manchester made up of women’s organisations who say enough is enough. WoW has been awarded £500,000 by The Smallwood Trust for an innovative three-year programme to build a women-led poverty action network from the bottom up across the Wythenshawe area.

Women will be supported to share their knowledge and experience and to identify common areas for action on gendered poverty in the neighbourhood, developing strategies for systems changes that will reduce disadvantage and make significant improvements to women’s ability to thrive. Mums Mart Savers have played an important role in establishing the network, engaging in community exchanges across Wythenshawe, while CLASS will convene the network and work closely with local support agencies to enable women’s participation across at least ten different groups.

Women will be in the lead while able to call on the support of trusted local agencies when they require that help, such as bringing in key decision-makers to identify channels for influence and change. These include Executive Director of Wythenshawe Community Housing Group, Paul Seymour and Mike Kane MP.

Reflections from WoW members:

“We are so excited to be part of the Women of Wythenshawe network all the women in our group are excited about it. We have a lot that we need to share and we need to bring our voices out there.”

Ruth, Know Africa Foundation

“Our group is beautiful! We come together and make food and do activities and try to practice speaking English. WoW is a good idea for us because we need to do more activities with English speakers, but we can also share the different ideas we have – we can give each other good ideas to help each other.

Narjes, Well Women refugee support project

We have been in the Wythenshawe area for 13 years supporting carers of adults or children with learning disabilities and autism. We are really excited to be part of the WoW network because there are so many families that we work with that we want to support to have a louder voice. Many of our mums will be passionately involved in this piece of work over the next three years. It’s going to be a fantastic opportunity, also to meet with other groups in our area and become stronger by working together.

Emma, Lifted Carers Centre
WoW members and partners introduce their groups and the network

Wythenshawe has had millions of pounds of regeneration funding invested over the past twenty years’ but poverty persists in many areas. WoW recognises that solutions and approaches need to be developed in partnership but from the bottom up. That means people bringing their experiences together from the individual and household level into a collective problem-solving space that is led by those directly affected.

WoW unites grassroots women around the place where they live and their common experiences, while bringing together a wide diversity of experiences and backgrounds including women of different ages, abilities, ethnicities and experiences. Wythenshawe has extremely high rates of domestic abuse (significantly higher than those for Manchester and England) and survivors are also represented.

Wherever you go in the world, poverty is gendered. As mothers, carers, low-income workers, and survivors, women shoulder an unequal burden of poverty while providing the social safety nets that hold communities together.

In the UK, it is women who have been disproportionately impacted by austerity policies, by COVID, and now by the current economic crisis (www.wbg.org.uk).

Paul Seymour said:

We are looking forward to supporting the WoW network as it evolves. We are really excited to be involved in this initiative that we believe could be the start of something transformational for women in Wythenshawe.