Meet Julia our Women’s Group Leader
When you meet our new Women’s Group leader, Julia, you can really feel her zest for life, especially if you ask her about plans for the recently re-launched Women’s Group,
‘I think that building women’s confidence and self-esteem is so important. I really hope the Women’s Group will help empower women, as well as being a place to chat and build friendships.’
Julia has packed a lot of changes and challenges into her 22 years. She wants to use these experiences to help others.
Julia was born in Bengal, moved to Italy when she was four and lived there until she was seventeen. To further her education, she then took the brave decision to move to Dundee to live with cousins amongst the Bengali/Italian community established there.
Despite feeling quite isolated and lonely, Julia mastered English quickly and gained excellent grades in her HND. She also volunteered at Dundee Advice Centre where she specialised in immigration, housing and benefit queries, helping people and using her six (and a half) language skills; Italian, Bengali, Urdu, Hindi, English, French, ‘I can only read Arabic!’
It was the Advice Centre experience which led to Julia’s own Bengali/Italian community asking her for support,
‘As people got to know me and trust me, I was able to help out more women in my own community.’
Julia recognised how frightening and isolating it could be for women who held very traditional roles running families and homes. Often they were nervous and lacked the confidence or English skills to engage in the wider community. So she started to help them fill in official forms, apply for jobs and generally reach out more. She believes passionately that women need to have the opportunity to develop their self-confidence,
‘I realised that often women need a safe place to go to build trust and self-esteem, before being confident enough to attend classes or join in with society.’
Her experiences in Dundee helped Julia win a place on the Learning and Community programme at the University of Edinburgh, where she is already getting top grades. Her drive and enthusiasm led to her placement with The Grassmarket Community Project, leading the Women’s Group. She also finds time to support Afghan Refugee women in Edinburgh and hopes to build relationships between these two groups of women in the future.
All the changes in Julia’s life have inevitably led to occasional challenges; especially adapting to her new country and managing conflicting family values. She has sometimes felt lonely and isolated, and has had to wrestle with her own mental health. Julia uses these experiences to motivate her,
‘I wasn’t confident 2 years ago. I had lots of challenges and I am proud to have overcome them. I know those experiences have given me greater empathy for others and I hope we can all grow stronger together in the Women’s Group’.
When asked who inspires her, Julia says,
‘Women who have faced challenges and have succeeded inspire me. I also really hope that I can inspire other women with my story.’
Become a Member
There are lots of opportunities for individuals to participate and join in! Everyone is welcome.
Volunteer with us
We would not be able to deliver the amazing support and services we provide to vulnerable people and social enterprise customers without our fantastic volunteers.
A BIG THANK YOU
The Grassmarket Community Project’s Members Programme relies on the generosity of our customers, funders and donors. Our key funders for this area of our work are Nationwide Community Grants, The Robertson Trust and EVOC/Scottish Government Communities Mental Health and Wellbeing Fund. We thank them for their essential continued support.