Catherine reflects on some of her experiences as she starts with us at Rise
Having lived all over the world, it took me by surprise that my move to Glasgow proved to be the most challenging. It had been a great desire of mine to be able to continue to live and work in the Middle East and Africa, and carry on the work that I had been doing with marginalised women. I had faced challenges when I had moved to these countries, enduring expensive, gruelling visa processes, and settling into cultures that were very different and where I was a minority, but moving to Glasgow was different.
Upon my arrival, I was promised work by a reputable employer who, after inspecting my resumé and references, placed me in a low ranking position that no one else wanted to work in. My finances were plummeting and my confidence was heading in a similar direction, so I had to accept the job. I was subject to intimidation and harsh verbal abuse regularly from some colleagues. I did not get to work the hours promised to me and I ended up staying in temporary accommodation for 8 weeks, living hand-to-mouth on what I did earn. When I approached my employer about my circumstances and enquired as to how they intended to improve them, I was met with blank stares, long slow blinks, but no answers. As it turned out, she was receiving a fee for every hour I had to work. The experience left me in a dark place where I felt unheard, lonely and isolated. I questioned the value of my years of experience, my qualifications, my achievements. My self esteem was extremely low and the shame and my anxiety was high. This experience has given me a glimpse of what some of the women that we work with at Rise face - being undervalued, overlooked and we can see their confidence and self-worth affected by this.
Thankfully, a new employer appreciated my skills, qualifications and experience, and in an amazing redemptive process, I found myself working with some great people across various sites of interest and exciting events around Glasgow. This is what we want for the women that we work with through Rise! Despite all that has come at me to clip my wings, my community here has grown and strengthened. I may not be living overseas, as I had hoped and planned, but instead I get to work with women from all over the world - right here in Glasgow through Rise!
I was reflecting upon the fact that I had the luxury of choice when I took the risk to leave my beautiful nation of Ireland, my precious family and my great job where I was respected and appreciated, to come here Refugees and asylum seekers don’t have the luxury of choice as to whether they leave their families, careers and nations or not. They are often fleeing for their lives, from the great injustices of persecution, or war, or whatever horrendous imminent threat they were facing at the time. Despite the sometimes horrendous circumstances that brought them to this city, I am so glad that each of our trainees are here and that I get to work alongside Helen and Jill in seeing each one have the opportunity to flourish and thrive here in Glasgow.
The women of Rise are already honourable, brave, resilient, leaders, managers and champions in their own right. They have managed the needs of their spouses, homes, children, often to the negation of themselves. They continue to navigate sometimes impossible situations, whilst enduring the immense pain and heartbreak of loss and separation, that didn't magically disappear once they landed on UK shores...
I am incredibly privileged to have the opportunity to work with Rise, and I know that along with Helen and Jill, I will learn more from our trainees than they will from me!