Successful Woman Wise course builds confidence and self-esteem

Published on 17th of May, 2021

A women’s self-esteem course might be an unusual choice for a retiree with a lifetime of social work experience. Yet for Heather Fraser, CMM’s recent Woman Wise programme was the perfect pick-me-up when she felt life was passing her by.

“I woke up one morning about eight months ago and felt that maybe I was wasting my life and that I could do a lot more. I was helping WesleyCare residents at mealtimes but I needed something else to challenge me.”

Woman Wise appealed because she knew she would learn and share confidence-building ideas. “Yes, my self-esteem was low. Mainly because I had a preconceived idea of what I was and I wasn’t happy about it. Even with my background in residential work, I heard quite a bit during the course and had my eyes opened. I was very impressed. Since taking the course, I no longer feel I’m wasting my life. I knew I had to be out there and be seen to be doing something.”

Doing something, she is. Heather has now signed up for a Canterbury history course at the library and intends doing more voluntary work at WesleyCare. She would not have done so if it hadn’t been for Woman Wise.

The chemistry between course participants and facilitators Rowena Dawson and Hannah Sylvester (pictured here) made Woman Wise the best such course she has taken. Rowena and Hannah helped everyone “gel”. “They let us talk and offered support and ideas. It was incredible the way in which everyone in the group could participate by offering help. I’ve done a lot of courses and this is probably the best, from the organisation to the commitment to the personalities.”

CMM employee Vivienne Sinclair-Phillips referred two of her clients to the most recent programme, both of whom came from different backgrounds but suffered from low self-esteem and little confidence. Both women said independently of each other that the daily journal writing they learnt was an important tool. Both have kept It up. One has also enrolled in a course she wouldn’t have had the confidence to take without having attended Woman Wise.“I can attest to the huge burst of confidence in themselves that both of my clients had upon completion of the course. Neither wanted it to end and both said it needed to be double the time, ie 12 weeks and not six weeks,” Vivienne said.

Rowena says the reason the course is special is that it provides women a place to value themselves - even women with high self-esteem benefit. “It’s an opportunity to acknowledge that I’m worth time for myself and that the things you get out of it can be numerous. It’s something to look forward to, a chance for connection, belonging, and to learn tools and strategies.”

“You’ll hear the women saying, ‘I can so relate to that’,” Hannah said. “It can seem to them that they’re not coping and that everyone else does amazingly but once you have that space to listen to other people being vulnerable, a weight is lifted off your shoulder knowing you’re not the only one.”

A lot of the talk is about being brave, which all the women demonstrate simply by turning up to the course. A bit of bravery is also required on the part of Hannah and Rowena. They relate to most of the content themselves, which enables them to respond to the women’s concerns with compassion.

Following the course, some of the participants signed up for Ara courses, looked into other professional training or started teaching English to refugees. Others still have said the course has given them the courage to get out and about, and to model the skills they have learnt to their own children.