A "Close Up" on the women who #ChooseToChallenge this #IWD2021 - My CMS

This International Women’s Day, the theme is ‘choose to challenge’. The idea behind this theme is that from challenge comes change, and that we all have a role to play in creating long-lasting social change.

We can all choose to challenge and call out gender bias and inequality. We can all choose to seek out and celebrate women’s achievements. Collectively, we can all help create an inclusive world.

At Changing Lives, we’ve spent the last 50 Years choosing to challenge the inequality that people experience every day. From homelessness and poverty, to abuse and exploitation, we challenge the systemic issues that lead to people facing the most challenging of circumstance. We challenge the stigma that people face when dealing with life threatening addictions, when people have experience of the criminal justice system, or when people have sold or exchanged sex.

This International Women’s Day, we want to celebrate just some of the women we have supported over the last year. The STAGE project is a partnership which brings together six women’s sector charities (A Way Our, Basis, GROW, Together Women, WomenCentre and Changing Lives) from across the North East and Yorkshire where there are emerging, live and recent sexual exploitation investigations.

Within STAGE we ran a photo competition with the women we support, which we called the Close Up project. Women were given disposable cameras and encouraged to take photos of important objects and moments in their daily lives. Taking photos acted as a mindful grounding strategy to focus on their surroundings, as well as a creative outlet, and gave us a snapshot into their everyday lives.

We wanted to display these photos on International Women’s Day to show the strength of the STAGE women to work through their trauma and strive for healing.

The winning photo

This photo shows the companionship and comfort that the winning photographer gets from walking with her dog. In the first lockdown she had all contact with her children cut for 12 weeks, which had a huge impact on her mental health. She said that she only got through this difficult time thanks to her little dog, who provided her with company and a reason to leave the house every day and experience nature. Whilst walking she took the photos of the beautiful scenes that she saw.

You can check out some of the other entries below.

#50YearsOfChangingLives #IWD2021 #ChooseToChallenge

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