International Women’s Day is right around the corner, and we are taking this opportunity to celebrate the achievements of women at Transform. We recently interviewed Anna Menzies, who has been a Housing & Support Officer for the last five years.
Anna works with clients in the Woking area, alternating between our Crescent and Pound House projects. Originally a journalist, she feels strongly about supporting people and ensuring their voices are heard.
Respecting yourself and making choices
Anna explained that many clients feel disrespected by other people, which in turn makes them lose respect for themselves. Her role is to help them realise their potential, which she does by treating them with dignity and compassion.
“I think it can be transformative when they have a support worker who respects them for who they are,” she said, further explaining that we all have agency – meaning we are responsible for the choices we make.
“You might think ‘well I won’t be able to do this because…’ and ‘I won’t be able to do that because…’ but actually it comes down to you making a choice,” she said. “Whether it’s putting yourself out there to work or answering that phone call from an agency that’s trying to help you.”
She acknowledged that some choices can be harder to make, especially for more vulnerable people. As a Housing & Support Officer, she supports clients to make choices that are sustainable in the long-term.
“We often have clients with backgrounds that make it hard to advocate for themselves, which is where we come in,” she said. “I think just sitting in on a meeting with somebody and advocating for them can make the person think “‘hold on, I’m actually worth this. I’m worth the effort.’”
Learning from other women and leading by example
Though she doesn’t often feel disempowered, Anna said it can happen when other people underestimate her and her potential.
“But when they realise the error of their ways,” she said, “then that makes me feel empowered.”
“I also get a lot of strength from meeting or listening to, or reading about, other strong women who have succeeded,” she added. “Not necessarily despite the fact they were women, but because they were women.”
Modelling good behaviour is essential for her as well, as she hopes to shape her teenage daughters into responsible adults.
“Bringing them up to be strong and independent women is the most important thing to me,” she said. “I think I need to lead by example, by being mindful of my relationships, work, how I view the world, and the steps I take to carry on educating myself.”
International Women’s Day and future plans
The aim of International Women’s Day is to celebrate the achievements of women globally and raise awareness against bias. Anna feels very strongly about this cause and hopes to one day live in a gender-equal world, where women are valued just as much as people of other genders.
“Ultimately, it’d be great if we didn’t need to have an International Women’s Day,” she said. “It is 2021, why do we still need a day to remind people that we’re important or remind women that they’re as good as men?”
“We seem to be moving so fast in other areas of equality,” she added, “and this is so fundamental. So yes, I’d rather an International Women’s Day wasn’t necessary!”
We will soon be sharing an interview with our Director of Client Services. Adele Duncan talked about the women who made her feel empowered throughout her career, and her current work with Transform clients. You can follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or LinkedIn to find out when our next interview goes up.