blog & activites
At the heart of GINA, is our desire to empower survivors, they are heard and explore strengths that helped them survive the sexual violence and abuse they've been subjected to.
To create a resource that recognises and builds upon these strengths, we developed a workbook created by survivors, for survivors.
We hope this workbook shifts power back to survivors by providing a compassionate space to unite through shared contributions, self-care practices and a space to build upon strengths. The workbook provides a space to record thoughts, feelings, ideas and a space to try out different activities. We asked survivors for their contributions as to what activities help/helped them through difficult times (eg sport/exercise, painting, writing etc) so that we could keep activities and suggestions from survivors at the centre of our resource.
This workbook invites us to be gentler with ourselves and others, and help us come home to the truth that we are enough. Survivors contributed to a resource that will help many more survivors, which holds shared connection, empowerment and the assurance that survivors are never alone at the heart of the project.
This workbook is available for purchase, with profits donated to our sister organisation, Rape & Sexual Violence Project (RSVP); helping to fund free specialist sexual violence and abuse support services for survivors.
Too often, survivors have their experiences dismissed, trivialised or distorted. This workbook helps to reclaim power by building upon our strengths and provide the opportunity to define our own reality and strengths as we work through it, with each workbook becoming our own and personal to us once completed.
Thank you to survivors who contributed to this resource and to The Wisdom Factory, whose generous funding made it possible.
the GINA workbook
calling all survivors: it's yours to define
GINA launched a running group in 2014, where group members learned about the positive effects of fitness and nutrition in a safe and supportive environment. Our free running group is open to new members. It is an official Run England Group led by an England Athletics approved run leader, our very own Lisa Thompson.
What does our running group involve?
We are a Birmingham based running group with a difference. We provide a unique opportunity for people affected by rape and sexual abuse to benefit from running, as a means of increasing their health and well-being and reconnecting with their body. We welcome everyone, especially absolute beginners.
We are also open to the partners, relatives and friends of people affected by rape and sexual abuse and to staff and volunteers from the range of organisations, charities and groups who work with and support survivors. We offer nurturing workshops and support to all helpers of survivors – including support with secondary trauma.
It’s no secret that exercise is good for both physical and mental health; group members will have the opportunity to experience the positive impact of exercise in a safe, supportive and sociable environment. Alongside the running sessions there will be opportunities for members to take part in running events (although this isn’t compulsory) and develop an understanding of stretching, training and injury prevention.
The Group will meet every Wednesday evening and every Saturday morning.
On Wednesday evening at 7.15pm to 8.15pm, at Grosvenor House, 14 Bennett’s Hill, Birmingham B2 5RS. THIS IS A WOMEN ONLY GROUP. Beginners are especially welcome at the group, including women who are not sure whether running is for them or not. We will start with walking and you will only build up to running when you are ready. Our Wednesday running group was launched on Wednesday 4th March 2015.
On Saturday morning, at 8.45am (for a 9am Parkrun, which is 5km/3.1 mile long), outside The Garden Tea Rooms at Cannon Hill Parkrun, Cannon Hill Park, near the County Cricket Ground, Edgbaston Road. THIS IS A GROUP FOR WOMEN AND MEN and is especially for improving and existing runners, slow and fast. You will need to complete the free, one-off registration process, before you can run at Parkrun, more information can be found here. Our first Saturday running group started on Saturday 28th February 2015.
To join our running group: Please come along to one of our sessions where you will be made to feel very welcome. All sessions are free and we will just ask you to fill in a brief, confidential membership form at your first session.
Who leads our running group?
The group is led by Lisa Thompson, an experienced runner who has completed the Leadership in Running Fitness Course. Her passion for running and for supporting people affected by rape and sexual abuse provides the perfect opportunity to develop our running group.
Do I need to be able to run already?
NO! Definitely not.
The Wednesday evening session is only for women and especially for beginners, who might need to build up their walking first before trying running. We will provide lots of advice, support and encouragement. People who already identify themselves as ‘runners’ are still welcome though, especially at our Saturday morning sessions, which is for women and men.
This group is for you if:
You say ‘I couldn’t run for a bus’… but you’d like to be able to!
You would like to try an activity that will make you feel great!
You are looking for a safe, friendly and fun environment in which to develop your fitness and running
You feel inspired when you watch runners or running events but haven’t taken action yet
You would like a new challenge
past activities & events
Supported by Living Streets and Walking Cities.
Living Streets is working with communities in Birmingham and other cities to help make walking the natural choice for short journeys. In Birmingham, residents across the wards of Aston, Ladywood, Nechells, Soho and Sparkbrook were encouraged to get walking more. GINA was part of an array of events to encourage improved public health through walking activities.
GINA knows that participation in fitness and social activities has a strong benefit on issues faced by abuse survivors, such as isolation, depression, low self-esteem and sleeplessness. We were excited to share walking as an effective way for survivors to increase their wellbeing.
Ours was a special walking programme, specifically aimed at sexual abuse survivors in the Birmingham area. The eight week programme was led by Afsha Malik of Bloom in Health. Afsha taught clients about ‘active walking’ and introduced a regular walking habit that could easily be adopted by clients in their own time. Each session involved breathing and posture exercises, meditation/mindfulness and, crucially, offered a safe space for clients to meet others who had been through similar experiences.
Attendees kept both walking diaries to track their physical progress, as well as wellbeing diaries where they wrote about their thoughts, feelings and confidence levels. The programme took place in Cannon Hill Park in the Edgbaston area. The location was accessible, near public transport routes and allowed the group to walk at a relaxed pace, in a nurturing environment. The group was supported by a trained support worker with experience in working with survivors of sexual abuse. We supported 12 clients in total throughout the programme.
In these sessions we shared the benefits of walking so survivors could start to adopt walking as a regular practice to increase their health, wellbeing, and form a positive connection with their body (particularly important for sexual abuse survivors).
By offering a walking group, we also reached those survivors who wanted to be active but were not yet confident to try running. The feedback from this group showed a positive impact on their increased physical activity and improved mental wellbeing. Participants also found walking as an effective way to nurture themselves and have continued to meet even though the walking program has now come to an end, which is another fantastic outcome of the project.
#ThisGirlCan is a national campaign developed by SportEngland and a range of partnership organisations. It is a celebration of active women up and down the country who are doing their thing no matter how well they do it or how they look. #ThisGirlCan sends a positive impression of what women and girls can achieve. It fits with GINA’s values about the potential of survivors. We wanted to be part of it because we know how activity and sport can benefit survivors and be healing.
As part of the #ThisBrumGirlCan campaign, we offered a Free Zumba “Bollywood” Style class to survivors of sexual abuse.
In this session, we shared the benefits of regular exercise with 11 participants. Participation in fitness activities can be enormously beneficial to abuse survivors tackling post-trauma issues, such as isolation, depression, low self-esteem and sleeplessness. Attendees learned about the mental and physical health benefits of activity in a relaxed and fun environment. The session offered a safe space for women to meet, learn new coping strategies and have fun.
By organising this Zumba class, we were part of a local campaign (#ThisBrumGirlCan) as well as a national campaign (#ThisGirlCan). Thanks to funding from Sport England and the #ThisGirlCan campaign this session was free!
The class was held on Thursday 2nd April From 11am to 1pm at The Space (Birmingham).
On Thursday 17th April 2014 at The Priory Rooms, GINA organised a FREE session of… LAUGHTER YOGA!
Laughter Yoga began with an explanation of the foundations of the work, then a gentle warm up which was followed by a series of laughter exercises interspersed with some simple stretching and deep breathing. No yoga ability was required! The benefits included a cardio and mind-body workout, stress reduction, enhanced mood, relaxation, pain reduction and improved mental functioning.
Before the laughter yoga session we had an interactive hour with participants where they shared their thoughts and ideas about ways to develop our future products and events. The hour of laughter yoga with Sandra Wathall of Laughing Hearts was offered as a THANK YOU for their time.
For more information on Laughing Hearts please click here.
If you would like to find out more about our Laughter Yoga session, please check out this awesome blog by Bloom in Health who joined us for the day: Laughter is Medicine.
Nurture Your Success Workshop
Supported by Santander & UnLtd
Key takeaway points after our Nurture Your Success workshop:
The primary thing that GINA wanted to achieve on the “Nurture Your Success” workshop was to increase survivors’ confidence in your unique abilities, talents and skills. Many of us, particularly survivors, can underestimate our resilience, strength and perseverance, which are actually all essential skills to have when travelling on the journey of setting up our own business, regardless of which part of the journey we are on. We also wanted to help survivors and supporters decide why they had chosen to establish a “social” enterprise, rather than a business which would be driven solely by the pursuit of profits.
On a daily basis GINA has been inspired by people, their dreams and their absolute dogged determination to survive and thrive! We were sure that by bringing a small group of survivors and supporters together, that they would awaken and shape their own dreams and inspire each other to do the same. We wanted you to feel encouraged to start a business by following your heart and doing what you really love. Chasing your dreams and your happiness really can be a business model and we hope that you are one step nearer to defining the vision, values and purpose of your socially driven enterprise.
To follow your heart and establish a social enterprise, your dream needs to be fed, watered and nurtured. This involves approaching obstacles and problems with optimism and an unshakeable faith that there are solutions and opportunities to be found, even if sometimes you have to keep looking! We wanted to introduce you to the many places where you can gain funding; mentoring; training, support and resources. Ultimately, however, we wanted you to see and believe that the biggest resource of all is YOU!
Once you have established your social enterprise, how do you know whether what you have achieved is successful? Our aim was that by the end of the day, you would have decided exactly who your customer was. Being clear about this enables you to know and understand your customers’ needs and exactly how your social enterprise could meet them. Having happy customers and ways they can feedback this happiness to you, alongside being able to demonstrate the real impact you are having on the world, are the ultimate ways you demonstrate what you have achieved. Ensuring that you also generate a profit, by the selling of your goods and services, means that you can then invest these profits back into your business to achieve even more happy customers and changes you want to bring about in the world!
Inspired to really try and make a difference, but don’t know where to start?
We offered a group of ten people the opportunity to come together for a unique and innovative one-day workshop to learn how they can utilise their skills to become social entrepreneurs.
They did not need any business experience to join us – just a niggling idea, a spark, or simply the enthusiasm to try something! This workshop was suitable for those who were are at the very beginning of their journey or if they had a business idea they were are ready to start working on.
With a limited number of lucky people, we offered a unique event where we could really start to:
* Grow participants’ talents
* Inspire their thinking
* Nurture their ideas
* And start on the road to Achieve successes for them and their future!
We offered the opportunity to NURTURE YOUR SUCCESS and we did this in two ways:
1. The morning was spent identifying and developing participants’ skills so that they were confident in their ability to be successful social entrepreneurs.
2. In the afternoon we shared the fundamental business principles that they needed to embark upon their own journey into social enterprise.
Throughout the day, participants were empowered to share their skills, ideas and thoughts about developing a social business. The workshop took place in a safe, positive and forward thinking environment to maintain focus and momentum.
The one-day workshop ran from 10am-4pm and took place on Saturday 18th October 2014 at the Marriott Hotel, Five Ways, Birmingham.
Lunch included in the £20 charge & was from the amazing Change Kitchen.
Nurture Workshop For Parents
We delivered a workshop for PACE (Parents Against Child Exploitation) in July 2015.
Nurture helps us understand the way others are feeling, helps them express these feelings and identify the best solutions. When others experience this kind of nurture from us, it helps them regulate their future feelings and have their sense of self acknowledged.
Nurturing yourself is absolutely essential – creating a nurturing, boundaried and safe environment and relationship is a great gift parents can give to their children.
Nurture and self-care shows one’s child that sexual abuse can be overcome, and it stops parents from becoming as traumatised as their child. It keeps parents well, safe and healthy, meaning they can still be there for their child.
The structure of the workshop was as follows:
Boundaries, link wiht abuse, set for ourselves as we set for our children
Fit round: intro to nurture, why nurture? What is it? Why is it important?
Second round: How does nurture help with trauma?
Third round: ways to nurture – get moving, cards, station to station – share ideas, in group – meditation, mindful walk, moving stress from our bodies-shake etc.
Nurture Workshop For Staff
Following our Nurture Workshop for Parents at PACE (Parents Against Child Exploitation) in July 2015, we delivered a nurture workshop and debrief for PACE staff.
The structure of the workshop was as follows:
Remind ground rules
Boundaries, setting for ourselves as we have set for others
First round: anything you want to leave here
Second round: check-in
Thoughts: how did the day go? Thoughts now?
Feelings: how did you feel during the day? How are you feeling now?
Bodies: have you remembered them? How is your energy, temperature, muscles, heart, shoulders, feet?
Third round: * Appreciating the achievements of others
* Appreciating the achievements of ourselves