Half of 2023 passed already – highlights!

Already six months of 2023 have passed and we have achieved so much so far! Let’s do a half of a year summary. And this is officially our first brand new article on our brand new website. 

We are excited to share with you our best moments yet and to give you a bit of a sneak peek to what is planned for the second half of this year.

First of all, thank you all for your amazing support. We couldn’t do it without you and we are grateful for your presence. We grow every year, we create new projects, we meet new friends and build stronger relationships with everyone connected with us, and we would like to continue it. 

Let’s start from the beginning. In January 2023 we got some good news, when we received a fund for nearly £10 000 from the National Lottery Community Fund. Our first fund ever. This amount meant to cover four different projects (each run by a different board member of the community), cost of our brand new website and basic expenses like banners, public liability and some training.

Then more good news came when we received two more funds through participatory budgeting sessions ‘’Our Voice, Our Choice, Our City’’ – £10 000 and £5000 (thank you all who voted for us!). One of the funds was created to provide free workshops by local businesses to boost community spirit and to give the community a chance to participate in something for free in ‘’living crisis’’ times. Second was connected with Polish heritage and to start conversations about barrier language, immigration and multicultural Newport. 

Hear Our Voice event at the Place
Hear Our Voice event in May, The Place

We started our first workshops in May, like sewing, writing, well being, drawing and pottery classes (very popular and successful) and the Polish heritage event ‘’Hear Our Voice’’ took place in May. Hear Our Voice event also contained a photography exhibition showing 10 inspirational Polish women who spread their wings in Wales after emigrating from Poland. It was part of the fighting stereotypes and prejudice campaign we launched (more to come). The exhibition will be showcased for the public after summer, and all the produced material supporting it like video, booklet, full description of the project etc will be shown on our website soon.

Agnieszka, one of the Polish women photographed for Hear Our Voice exhibition
Agnieszka, One of the Polish women photographed for Hear Our Voice project
Free writing workshop at Barnabas Arts House Gallery
Free creative writing workshop at Barnabas Arts House Gallery

Before all of that, we organised our Women of Newport official launch in March 2023 at our official hub Barnabas Arts House Gallery. We talked about Women of Newport 2023/2024 plans, we designed a booklet with our work and achievements and enjoyed your company. We love socialising and meeting you when we can – and we can promise more of that in the future!

International Women's Day - official launch of Women of Newport with new board and funds
Women of Newport launch in March

About socialising. We took part in the Newport Women’s Forum annual fundraising event in May (looks like May was absolutely crazy in our diary) by booking a full table for Women of Newport supporters. We have new friends, new links and new meetings to come as an outcome of that day. The atmosphere was empowering and the fundraising successful. It’s already a regular event to attend for us and if you missed it in 2023, join us in 2024. 

Newport Women's Forum event and their fundraising, Women of Newport table
Newport Women’s Forum fundraising campaign

June 2023 was completely taken over by ‘’The Place of Wonder’’ – an already famous lane makeover project co-funded by the National Lottery Community fund. Twelve artists created a colorful art work in one of the Pill’s deprived lanes and the big street party – launch took place on the 18th of June. 

The Place of Wonder launch party
The Place of Wonder launch party

In June we also celebrated #refugee week with the Kurdish community – Kurdish All Wales Association – in Cardiff. Great event involving also Ukrainian and Sudanese community in Cardiff. It’s good to make friends outside our home Newport and to spread a word about Women of Newport in Wales. Big thank you to our friend Fatmanur Aksoy who represents the Kurdish community in Newport and also is a member of Youth Parliament. Some collaborations with our youth from Parliament coming, but also from Youth Council (thanks to Mali Jones from Youth Council).

We joined in April Fatma at Cardiff City Hall where she received her award from Welsh Refugee Council for being a promising future leader. We feel privileged to be there with you.

Fatma after receiving her award for the Leader of the Future from Welsh Refugee Council
Welsh Refugee Council awards

Big thank you to Nazia Akhtar for inviting us to celebrate the event organised by The Roots, a locally based charity which aims to strengthen young people Islamic faith using a creative approach. Nazia and the charity represent the local Bangladeshi community. One of our goals is to highlight and support different communities as Newport is very multicultural and we love it. We especially love to collaborate with women, so get in touch if you one of them. More of this kind of work is coming next year.

We also attended Africa Day celebrations, organised by Zimbabwe Newport Volunteering Association, congratulations everyone.

And at the end we would like to say big thank you to Roma community Newport for inviting us to their June’s event celebrating their culture. Event organised with Romani Cultural and Arts Company and supported by the Riverfront Theatre.

Let’s just talk about the Women of Newport team now and what happened in the first half of the year for all of us. Big congratulations to Aga, our treasurer for having her first art exhibition this year. We love your nature inspired paintings. Congratulations to Jan for her two successful exhibition launches at Barnabas Arts House this year, including coming back to Newport international Indian artist Ajay. Congratulations Dawn for your amazing work for the Pancreatic Cancer UK, including your two inspirational speeches in Newcastle. We also visited the Houses of Parliament in London in April, thanks to Jessica Morden MP. Kamila, Dawn and Gosia had a blast and many pictures were taken from the trip.

Aga and her paintings for her first art exhibition
Aga and her paintings for her first art exhibition
Dawn and her speech, Newcastle
Dawn giving a speech at Newcastle for the Pancreatic Cancer UK

Everyone in our board worked really hard and looks like the second part of the year will be busy as well.

We have some English lessons coming in September and it’s a pilot project first aiming at the Polish community, but more lessons will come. We also plan to continue ‘’Hear Our Voice’’ project, more free workshops to come, more collaborations with new friends, Women of Newport third photography edition (local community champions) and of course our wreath workshops, our annual event we are proud of. 

Women of Newport newest photography exhibition will be launched in Senedd in 2024 with the support of John Griffiths MS – It’s official and it’s the first time we are sharing this news with you. This year’s project is special as you will receive a chance to nominate someone. The photoshoots will take place after summer time and we are planning to organise ‘’meet our champions’’ coffee meetings so we can socialise even more.

We have a few projects tackling mental health coming. We feel very passionate to support our community members who are currently struggling for some reasons and more details will be shared soon. Collaboration with the University of South Wales is a big part of it.

We are very proud of our work and to be involved in creating amazing projects, supporting communities, socialising etc. We receive many questions from you about how to be involved and we will launch from January 2024 memberships. You also ask about socialising meetings and it’s also our priority for 2024. Socialising is something we want to increase and to give you a chance to be connected with us and others in person.

2023 is a ‘’game changer’’ year for our community as it’s the first when we operate with the funds. It’s a big learning curve for us and hopefully more funds will come in 2024. 

Our website was also launched this year and we will be using it regularly for weekly articles. If you remember the old one you know that blog was the most important part of it. We are still uploading our archive articles, in the meantime read the few which are already shared.

We hope you will continue your support and stay with us.

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