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Frances Soney-Ituen

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

We speak to Frances Soney-Ituen who has set up Women's Integrated Network (WIN) in Athy two years ago. She tells us her story.

Frances has also been nominated for an award at the up coming Ireland Involved Awards, which will be happening on Nov 5th (next week)

The Awards:

The Ireland Involved Awards with Specsavers is an awards scheme that makes a difference. It is about showcasing the work of volunteers across the country and celebrating Ireland's volunteers!

The awards will honour thirty individuals at an awards event on the 5th November, at a Dinner hosted by the Taoiseach's Office in the Royal Hospital Kilmainham, Dublin. Ten overall category awardees will be announced and President Mary McAleese will present the award for the Irish Volunteer of the Year 2009. This event will celebrate the amazing work of all those who volunteer in Ireland.

The Irish Volunteer of the Year will go on and represent Ireland at the European Parliament in Strasbourg. This international final is taking place in the French city on Saturday 5 December to coincide with International Volunteer Day.
Frances Soney-Ituen, Frances has been nominated as one of the 30 finalists for the Ireland Involved Awards with Specsavers..
Frances Soney-Ituen founded the Women's Integrated Network in Athy over two years ago. Frances has championed the individual and collective development of both members and service users of WIN's Information/ Drop-In-Centre and has been in the forefront of promoting positive integration for the common good. In addition to volunteering more than 20 hours a week at the above centre, where she holds free English language classes, basic computer hands on training, CV development, facilitation, emotional support and more, Frances makes herself readily available to women in need of support, especially those experiencing domestic violence. Because of Frances, settled, traveller and migrant women in Athy and the area now have an organization where they can interact and form a community. Through Frances's volunteer outreach efforts the topics of social inclusion, positive integration and diversity have become common topics in households and the community as a whole. Frances turns situations to strengths and has the ability to make everyone feel comfortable and always has a good word for all who come in contact with her.
Frances is trained as a corrosion engineer, but she has not worked in this field for a while.
What inspired her to set up WIN?
It was to empower women and to help with positive integration through training and education of women. We would all be able to achieve more in a network. Win is not just for new communities. but also for Irish people. for every woman..
She decided to set up the network because if she thought that if she could get two women to work together, then they would know each other and if they had children then the children could get to know each other and then eventually their parents could get to know each other too. So she decided that she would start with women and the response has been great..
Did she find integration difficult when she first moved to Ireland?

When she first moved to Athy in 2007, she found the community to be very close, so initially it was hard to get to know people.

She's also helped women who have suffered from domestic violence?

WIN also help women who have been abused in their own home. WIN do have women who have issues with their partners and we do our best to help these women to get out of the situation. Every situation is looked at on its own merits and if the violence is very bad the organisation will use other means to help women and children out of as much trouble as possible..