The Widows Empowerment Trust (WET) were in my local Morrisons a week or two ago offering to pack my bag in exchange for a small donation. WET, I discovered, is a newly formed charity offering support primarily to widows and widowers.
Their founder, Oyovwe Kigho, was ‘hands on’ so I arranged to meet her and find out more. “It’s about empowerment and promoting social inclusion” she tells me.“What does that mean and what led you to set up the charity?” I ask.
“I have a few friends and family that are bereaved and I was aware of the isolation, the loneliness in them. They didn’t want to mix with other people or get engaged in the community. After a loss fewer people would visit, or phone them and they struggled, became depressed.
I felt real empathy and compassion for them. So I set the charity up to support widows in that situation who were in need.”
The support is provided in a number of ways. Sometimes it’s out in the community as part of a befriending service, a couple of hours chatting, walking, shopping. They arrange trips and meals out to encourage widows to socialise and run a couple of support sessions locally.“On Tuesday’s we run a craft based workshop with activities such as sewing, knitting or crocheting. It’s an opportunity to meet other widows and socialise.
Also, on Thursdays we organise a workshop for people who are suffering from dementia. We do arts and crafts like painting alongside dancing, playing music, singing. It’s held at the Each Step Care Home and around 10 to 20 people attend, some are residents and others live nearby. It’s a lovely group and really enjoyable.”
I decided to go along and see for myself. Each Step Care Home is a modern, bright, well lit building in Blackley, cheerful and clean with a garden and cafe.
I’m taken through to a lounge area to see a small group sat around a long table doing crafts. Gradually more people arrive. There’s music and karaoke compliments of Richard who, along with Oyovwe, encourages everyone along and there are plenty of volunteers to join in the singing and dancing.As promised the group were lovely and thoroughly enjoyed themselves.
Running the charity is not without its challenges. Raising funds is a time consuming necessity and committed volunteers are much needed for roles such as office admin, befriending, PR, fundraising and more. Oyovwe also has her own young family to look after and I truly admire her.
“You don’t have to be a widow to see the pain that bereavement causes. I put myself in their shoes, understand how they feel. It’s what gives me that push, that drive.
I can see the impact of what we are doing. Some have really improved in their confidence.
It’s helped them to meet other widows and I hope it’s raised awareness amongst the community and families too.”
If someone offers to pack your bag at the supermarket please let them and, if you can, make a donation to whichever cause they are collecting for. It’s a fair exchange.
More about the trust and full details of the volunteer opportunities can be found on the Widows Empowerment Trust website and Facebook page.
Or contact Oyovwe on 07472 064322 / email: firstname.lastname@example.org