In the last two years, Diyya has grown into a successful and lively organisation that improves the quality of life for women and their families in Lye and the surrounding areas. I recently joined them at their bustling Saturday Club to meet some of the people they support.
On a balmy Saturday afternoon in May, Diyya’s 10-strong volunteer band is busy preparing a large community hall at Lye Mosque, at an impressive pace. The mobilisation of these volunteers tells me 2 things: 1) Each has a specific job to do, from organising the tuck shop with an impossible array of food, setting up computers, getting games ready, preparing a massage area, to inflating the bouncy castle and doing safety checks; 2) They’re expecting a big turnout this week, though they’re used to that. I’ve been told that the place is packed by 5pm week in week out. But seeing is believing!
Diyya started modestly just under 2 years ago, with 3 ladies, 1 idea and an abundance of willingness. We encouraged them to engage with the local community – which they did through any means possible (making links with the local church, making connections in their neighbourhood) – to build a picture of the aspirations of local women, for themselves and their families.
With some support from us, Diyya brought that information together and came up with a plan that would meet the needs and aspirations of women in Lye, but that would also respond to their wishes in the future. Diyya planned to run an open forum every Saturday where women could come and just be themselves, creating a space for sharing, learning and achieving new things. The open forum would have to be open to the women’s children too. While the women would be interacting, children would have games and learning activities. This plan formed the basis of a bid to Awards for All and to a small grants fund we operated in 2012. We helped Diyya form a small committee and got some paperwork in place to help it run efficiently.
And the result? Being awarded small grants to carry out the initial plan has helped Diyya to grow gradually and become more sustainable now. Diyya members say that the Saturday Club has achieved all these things:
- The development of the women that come to Diyya. The ladies I spoke to at the Saturday Club had similar stories to tell about how the project has got them out of their homes, helped them make new friends and connections, helped their confidence.
- The focus Diyya puts on engaging ladies and making sure their wishes are met has paid dividends because Diyya now has 10 regular volunteers and I’ve met some of them that tell me that their confidence has skyrocketed from taking responsibility for Diyya’s success. Some volunteers are pretty enterprising, making, baking and selling things to bring in income to cover Diyya’s costs.
- New activities and partnerships. Being so in tune with the wishes of the ladies has led to other activities being planned and delivered, in partnership with agencies like Adult and Community Learning and Public Health. It has run English classes and healthy cooking courses.
Diyya’s volunteers are as motivated as ever and now there are more of them! They’re keen to build on this success and expand their activities so that they can continue providing community support to the women in their neighbourhood.
Diyya meets every Saturday at the community hall of Lye Ghausia Jamia Mosque and Welfare Association, Lye High Street, from 4pm-7pm. All women are welcome and they can bring girls of any age and boys up to age 13. All children need to be accompanied by an adult.