The Women’s Support Network (WSN), established in 1989, is a regional organisation that works across all areas of Northern Ireland. It includes in its membership community based women’s centres, groups and organisations, with a concentration in disadvantaged areas. WSN is a charitable and feminist organisation, which adopts a community development approach. We provide a range of support and services to 62 community based women’s centres, projects and infrastructure groups and 22 associate members drawn from across the community and voluntary sector who support women, families and communities.
Our vision is ‘a society where women’s experiences are fully recognised and valued and where women enjoy full and equal participation in all spheres of life’.
Our mission is ‘to support the development of women’s organisations, enable collective action and positively impact on policy and decision-making processes’.
The Women’s Support Network believes that the art of networking is finding and representing the commonalties we share, while at the same time affirming, valuing and giving voice to our differences as organisations and individuals within them. The Women’s Support Network is not only accessible to its constituency but also directed by it. The Board of WSN is voluntary and is made up of representatives from a cross-section of WSN member groups.
WSN is a membership organisation. WSN members are involved in the governance of the organisation as well as users of the membership services. Member groups include groups working in some of the most socially and economically disadvantaged areas.
A number of our member groups also specifically address the needs of socially excluded and marginalised women such as Traveller women and women from other ethnic minority communities, lesbian women, homeless women and women with disabilities.
Services provided to and on behalf of WSN member groups:
- Information to support your group – via ebriefings, the WSN Newsletter and Briefing papers.
- Networking opportunities and events – WSN hold quarterly membership events. These meetings are designed to provide information sessions on a range of issues (e.g. fundraising), or to celebrate an event (e.g. International Women’s Day), to enable consultation (e.g. CEDAW) as well as providing a valuable opportunity for groups to meet each other and exchange information and experiences.
- Outreach support – This is provided on an ongoing basis to WSN member groups and the support can range from working with a number of groups on key issues such as education or childcare through to working with individual groups on topics such as recruitment practices or internal governance structures.
- Advice and signposting – WSN continue to develop our advice sources to which WSN members as well as the general public can be signposted.
- Policy consultations and campaigning – WSN responds to sectorally-specific consultations on behalf of member groups. Members are encouraged to feed into these consultations and their input is actively sought. This enables WSN member groups to make a collective response to key consultations which is important as most member groups do not have the resources to be able to make individual responses. Campaigning and Lobbying is also organised centrally through WSN. This can be in response to government policy or an attempt to influence policy in the planning stages. Past campaign issues include; Childcare, Advice, Community – based education services and Sustainability funding.
- Promotion of the Community-based Women’s Sector – WSN will showcase the work of the community based women’s sector. This can be through reports or research which demonstrates the uniques attributes of the community based women’s sector.
Interested in becoming a member of WSN? Click here to to download an application form.
Telephone: 028 9023 6923
Fax: 028 9031 0307
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