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Teigan Higgins recognised for her work with vulnerable women at Yorkshire Activity Hub

  • Monday, January 31, 2022
  • Posted By The Growth Company

It’s less than three years since Teigan Higgins graduated. Now the Support Worker for GC Employment’s Justice Service at Yorkshire Activity Hubs has been shortlisted in the ‘One to Watch’ category at this year’s Northern Power Women Awards.

Joining GC Employment in February 2021, Teigan has taken a leading role in increasing the provision for vulnerable women both in the CFO Activity Hub in Sheffield and across South Yorkshire. CFO Activity Hubs, part-funded by the European Social Fund, aim to overcome some of the barriers that make it difficult for individuals subject to the criminal justice system to access support in areas such as education, skills and employability.

When the service began virtually none of the participants at the CFO Activity Hubs identified as female. Teigan now single-handedly manages a caseload of 65 women from a range of backgrounds.

“I can’t believe it’s been nearly a year!”, she begins.

“From February to May, when we couldn’t work in the office, it was about building partnership links with other organisations and businesses so that we could hit the ground running once we were open properly. In June we had our Open Day and moved into the building, and by then consistent donations had started to come in.

“We now have a regular intake of hygiene products, food and other items which we wanted to be accessible for the women who come in. We changed the space from an office to a hub, where people can come, feel welcome and not that they’re there desperate for help- they’re there to get away from everything else in their lives and have the support they need.”

Opened as part of a Ministry of Justice contract, the CFO Activity Hub supports people on community orders or on license. 

Each participant receives a personal one-on-one initial assessment and is then given opportunities to access a suite of resources to help meet their needs and overcome challenges. These include courses on assertiveness, understanding emotions, surviving domestic violence, parenting and navigating the world with men.

“I wanted to work with women. It’s something that motivates me because I can see the impact of empowering one woman, it has a knock-on effect.”

“A lot of the women we support are segregated, so I wanted to set up a networking event with different organisations, probation staff, service users and the Lord Mayor of Sheffield, Gail Smith. I was so nervous, but it was just a great day of celebrating being a woman.”

Understanding each service user’s passions and interests has also been a key focus for Teigan. She recognised that many women had an interest in beauty treatment and wanted to learn the skills required to find employment in this area. A free beauty therapy course is now delivered at the hub, enabling women to work towards a VTCT Level 2 Diploma qualification in beauty therapy.

“When we started the course, we’d go to a different building, and it was quite daunting so I asked if we could do the course here, from our hub. The women are incredible, they offer massages to probation staff to practice, and we have been able to tailor it so if they are parents, they can go pick up or drop off their kids. It’s just that extra support which has made it a real success.”

“Going forward I want to lead on all of our work with women and help develop that as best I can, maybe even going bigger and wider than just South Yorkshire.”

Find out more about GC Employment’s work here.

The Northern Power Women Awards will be held on 21 March at Manchester Central. Learn more about them here.