Oxfam Future Skills women host live radio show for IWD 2017

Rachel Roger Gender

Rachel Roger, director of Manchester based online radio station Reform Radio, introduces an upcoming radio show in collaboration with an Oxfam UK poverty programme, and reflects on how she has found inspiration in their resilience.  

Listen to the show:

Reform Radio is an online community station that provides an exciting and alternative method of working with young Mancunian’s looking for employment. We offer employment focused creative workshops in house, across Greater Manchester and throughout the North West to improve skills and raise aspirations. We provide unique opportunities for trainees and participants to work alongside some of Manchester’s most respected DJs and artists.

It’s been amazing to spend some time with the women of Oxfam’s Future Skills project here in the studio, allowing them to speak from the heart about their experiences.

The Future Skills project enables women living with, or at risk of, poverty to volunteer in an Oxfam shop, and combine this learning experience with professional mentoring and group work to find pathways to progress in their lives. I joined the group to facilitate some radio workshops and help to make some podcasts, and I’ll be really excited to see them again today. This time they’ll be coming to Reform’s studio to host their own live show. As part of our International Women’s Day takeover, they’ll be running an hour-long show, joining a really powerful schedule for the day.

There are unfair barriers limiting the ability of women to make choices and build the lives that they want

At the workshops, we started off with a round of “I am strong because…” celebrating our strengths, breaking the ice and introducing the theme of Manchester’s International Women’s Day celebrations.

It’s been a lot of fun building these podcasts with the group, but we’ve also been reflecting on some serious issues affecting women. There are unfair barriers limiting the ability of women to make choices and build the lives that they want for themselves and their families.

Women living in poverty in Greater Manchester are contributing enormously to this city’s economy, including through badly paid and insecure work, and through unrecognised and undervalued unpaid care work. Speaking to the Future Skills women, there can be no doubt about how hard they are already working, but mostly just to stay afloat. It’s time to even things up.

I heard from the women how simple, unfair things stop them moving forward, like employability services running training at a time that clashes with the school run. I also heard about outright discrimination and injustice, like being turned down for a job because you are a single parent, or facing bullying behaviour from employers, but not having the self-confidence or job security to challenge it.

I really hope that by capturing some of the solutions that the women have come up with in a podcast, and having the chance to share their views with decision-makers and other women, they’ll make some progress and feel able to make a difference.

As well as that though, the radio workshops were designed to boost confidence and celebrate individuality. They’re crammed full of great employability skills too – like speaking confidently, answering different types of questions, tailoring answers to different audiences, and articulating strengths. These are all things that Oxfam’s Future Skills project aims to address.

It’s been a pleasure to be part of the project. I particularly loved hearing some of the women express themselves in their own languages. The number of languages spoken by the group was astounding. It just goes to show how talented these women are! They are finding a way to succeed and keep learning new things in a new place, facing new challenges with grace and determination. I could only hope to have that kind of strength if I found myself in a similar situation.

Another highlight for me was hearing how the women talked about their home cooking – I’m hoping to sample some of these delights at our celebration event for their show.

Thanks Oxfam, and thanks to the women of Future Skills for the fun few days. You are amazing and I can’t wait for the live show.

Make sure you’re locked in to Reform Radio to listen in to their live show- this is one you won’t want to miss.

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Shaz Elahee