Scottish Interfaith Week

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Gilded Lily: Empowering women in Govan to take climate action

Gilded Lily is an award-winning Community Interest Company, based in Govan, Glasgow, which helps women overcome barriers and become more confident and creative.

The organisation works with a diverse community of women from multi-cultural backgrounds and faiths.

Director of Gilded Lily, Mary MacLeod, said:

“Since delivering our Linking Women project in 2018/19, to provide mentoring support to help refugee and asylum seeker women settle in the community, we have found that the diversity of faiths and multi-cultural backgrounds of the women we are working with has grown significantly. This diversity includes women from Turkey, Eritrea, Somalia, Vietnam, Namibia, Syria, Venezuela, and more.”

Gilded Lily launched their Waste to Wishes climate action project in 2019 with funding from the Scottish Government’s Climate Challenge Fund.

Making climate action fun, creative and accessible

Through a range of free workshops and training programmes, Waste to Wishes encourages and inspires women to reduce waste by reusing, recycling and repairing.

The project includes:

  • sewing classes which utilise unwanted and donated materials such as bedding, curtains and scrap materials that would otherwise end up in landfill;
  • swap shops to encourage reusing and recycling unwanted clothing, diverting from landfill;
  • cookery programmes using food distributed through the FareShare programme;
  • food waste recycled through Glasgow City Council food recycling centre;
  • upcycling creative crafts using plastics, card and paper, diverting from landfill;
  • and climate change information sessions and outings.

“We feel that through doing creative activities that are practical, with materials that are easily accessible in the household, the women are learning how to utilise items whilst doing their bit for the environment in a fun, creative and interactive way.”

Empowering women and the local community

The Waste to Wishes project was born from a community consultation through which local women in Govan said they were interested in climate action but were unsure what they could do as individuals. The consultation also recognised that Govan is an area of multiple deprivation and a lack of resources in the area made it difficult for people to be more environmentally friendly.

Following the consultation, Gilded Lily were able to develop a project which provides climate-related information, support and resources in the local area, and empowers women to take climate action through organised activities and campaigns.

“Since the first lockdown, we set up a WhatsApp group to stay in touch with the women. Many of the women we work with struggle with issues of confidence, isolation and financial hardship, and we linked in with Govan Toy Library, Govan Starter packs and Make Do and Grow, to provide much needed items such as nappies, toys and children’s craft packs. We were delighted to see that through sharing these donated items in the WhatsApp group, it has provided a platform for the women to now share items they no longer need with one another.”

Delivering food, craft and sewing packs to women and families throughout the pandemic

The Covid-19 pandemic has had a massive impact on the work of the organisation and those it supports. Referrals for FareShare food allocation grew exponentially at the start of the pandemic, and Gilded Lily have since delivered food packs to over 150 women and their families, and continue to deliver to over 80 families per week.

Since March 2020, they have delivered over 3000 food packs to women and families in Govan and Greater Glasgow and have saved over 30,000 kg of food from going to landfill.

All classes and trainings stopped taking place in the Gilded Lily shop and moved to Zoom, and the Waste to Wishes project began distributing packs to participants for the online crafting, sewing and cooking classes.

Providing a lifeline for emotional wellbeing

Along with the rise in referrals for food packs, the mental and emotional wellbeing of the women supported by Gilded Lily has been seriously impacted by the pandemic. Many of the women experience issues of low self-confidence and isolation which have been exacerbated by the lockdowns and lack of face-to-face engagement. Fortunately, Gilded Lily have been able to adapt their projects and provide a line of support throughout the pandemic, and the impact of this is illustrated by the testimonies of the supported women:

“The only lockdown contact with the outside world beyond phone calls and emails to family has been Gilded Lily. A few socially-distanced minutes in the week to take in a package and have a quick chat at the garden gate — living alone, this was the only in-person social contact I had for months on end. I’m so very grateful for this.” – Elspeth

“The workshops have helped me have less stress and worry in the midst of the pandemic.” – Claudia

“Whilst shielding and trying to work from home, I never have time to myself to relax. The support from Gilded Lily – sending the craft bags – has been truly inspirational and fun. I found myself immersed and able to forget the worries of Covid-19.” – Jelina

Climate action: How to get involved

At Scottish Interfaith Week, we are delighted to be able to shine a light on the Waste to Wishes project and the incredible work of Gilded Lily in supporting women in a local community. We believe climate action is important for people of all backgrounds, faiths and cultures to get involved with and that the work being done to spread climate awareness is key to the survival of our planet.

If you would like to find out more about the work of Gilded Lily, you can visit their website and follow them on Facebook and Twitter.

If this story has inspired you to take your own climate action, then why not consider hosting an event for Scottish Interfaith Week 2021, perhaps even a sewing or cooking workshop? The theme this year is Together for Our Planet and we are encouraging individuals and organisations across Scotland to host climate-related events.

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