Paula Manley
Paula Manley at Women Making a Difference ©

Women Making a Difference

Paula Manley is a Facilitator at Women Making a Difference (WMAD)

I wanted to train as a facilitator because I am passionate about the Active Citizens vision. I truly want to live in a world where ‘people feel empowered to engage peaceably and effectively with others in the sustainable development of their communities’.

My experience of being trained as an Active Citizens facilitator was life changing. It gave me a better insight into myself and my identity and values. I am now more open and more willing to engage in ‘dialogue’ to understand other people’s experiences and perspectives.

I am rewarded every time I see our participants become a close knit group, who want to make the world better for everyone.

The main responsibilities of the role

As Lead Facilitator I deliver the Active Citizens ‘learning journey’, to women from diverse cultures and communities from across Wales. We explore the assumptions they hold and define how we are going to ‘hold them lightly’. I also support and motivate the women on their learning journey through to their social action projects.

As I take participants through the programme, I see a group of women blossom in front of me.

Their enthusiasm is contagious and their thirst for learning is inspirational. Many of these women have been at the hearts of their communities for most of their lives. Through the confidence, skills and networks that the programme gives them, they become influencers of lasting social change and environmental wellbeing, for the benefit of themselves, their families and their wider communities.

The most rewarding part of being a facilitator

I am rewarded every time I see our new participants go from being nervous and unsure individuals to becoming a closeknit group, who want to make the world better for everyone. I am also rewarded whenever I see the women successfully ‘pull off’ their social action projects.

Apart from connecting hundreds of women from across Wales with Active Citizens around the world, our biggest achievement was one of our social action projects called ‘Welsh Women’s Summit’. We brought together over 100 women from diverse cultures and backgrounds, together with key decision makers and politicians to talk about the issues that affect women living in Wales today.

How the Active Citizens programme benefits the local community

There is a saying: ‘educate a woman, educate a family’. I would also add to that ‘educate a community’. Every woman who has been through the WMAD Active Citizens programme takes their learning away with them, into their homes, their workplaces and their communities. The social action projects are just one vehicle for collective change. The informal cascading which takes places long after the course is finished is the true value of the programme.

Advice for anyone who is considering becoming an Active Citizens Facilitator

I would say ‘go for it’ – I can’t put into words how much personal satisfaction they will gain! I have enjoyed every minute, from the initial training to delivering the ‘learning journey’ and even the stress which builds up towards the ‘hosting’ ISV. We give all our visitors a warm ‘Welcome to Wales’ and a memorable Active Citizens experience which will stay with them for the rest of their lives.