In 2022, Community Savers and CLASS brought women’s groups and their support agencies together across the Wythenshawe area to think about the many ways in which poverty is gendered and explore ideas for systems change.
Out of that work (and with support from Smallwood Trust) Women of Wythenshawe was born: a women-led poverty action network comprising ten member groups which regularly brings together approximately 30 women leaders to take action together for systems change.
The intersecting issues they identified on their visioning journey were many but in autumn 2023 they prioritised three critical issues that are holding women back in fundamental and systemic ways in Wythenshawe (and across the UK) that require urgent action:
- Domestic Abuse
- Access to social housing
- The crisis in Special Educational Needs provision
WoW leaders have formed three campaign groups to take action for systems change on these issues, and with support from Renaisi on systems mapping and On Our Radar on community reporter training, they are taking the city by storm.
“Someone once said that unity is strength and that is certainly true of the Women of Wythenshawe project. Having the opportunity to be part of a hugely varied and diverse group of women, sharing experiences from different perspectives and experiences only makes this incredible group of women stronger in their pursuit of systems and policy change and in support and understanding of each other.” Kate Maggs, Better Things
WoW Housing Action
WoW leaders joined forces with community leaders in Hulme and Miles Platting in October to catalyse a new campaign coalition called Social Homes for Manchester Now! They have produced a series of video shorts highlighting the urgent need for more new build homes for social rent for women and families and demanded that Places for Everyone – the new spatial framework for Greater Manchester retains clear wording and commitment on social housing. Together with a coalition of organisations that includes Community Savers/CLASS, Greater Manchester Tenants Union, Greater Together Manchester, Shelter, Mustard Tree, and Steady State Manchester they are now seeking a commitment to 30% homes for social rent in all new developments under the Local Plan and closer to home, within the redevelopment of Wythenshawe Civic Centre.
“I would like to say a massive thanks to Wow for giving us the opportunity to learn new skills that will help us grow and helping us believe that we can make a difference, and to empower us to encourage and inspire others to do the same. WoW is the best thing that has happened to Wythenshawe. Together we are stronger” Shelley Wallis, Wythenshawe Women’s Welfare Association
The WoW Action on SEND group are working on three key areas:
- a campaign for all schools in Wythenshawe to gain Inclusion Quality Mark accreditation by International Women’s Day 2026
- establishing a mums-led training collective that can run workshops and training in local schools with governors, teaching staff and parents
- developing an evidence base and a set of recommendations about the needs of young people as they move out of the SEND system and into adult social care support after turning 25
The Domestic Abuse team are excited to be developing a new partnership with Safespots to co-create specialist training for statutory workers across the Wythenshawe area on how to support the full diversity of WoW women in situations of domestic abuse including women with learning disabilities and autism, women with no recourse to public funds, and women from diverse cultural backgrounds.