The aims and objectives of Support and Action for Women Network (SAWN) is to promote the welfare of African women living in Greater Manchester, helping them to realise the full potential of women by way of providing opportunities.

SAWN works with women from black ethnic minorities in the community, as well as in UK prisons with ex-offenders in the Greater Manchester area, by empowering them and aiding rehabilitation through the Voiceless Victims Prison Project. SAWN also provides Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) awareness, bringing professionals to the group to teach the members of the dangers and impact of FGM, as well as providing them with details of the relevant support services for women who are at risk or are victims.

Rose Ssali, SAWN’s Project Co-ordinator, adds: “We set up SAWN after we realised migrant African women have little support and integration in the community. In September 2005, an elderly migrant lady from Zimbabwe, living on her own, became very ill and died. She was in her own in her house with no support. It was reported by neighbours after the light of her television stayed on for days. She didn’t have a GP, she didn’t have any family or friends to support her. She was buried by the council. Many of us knew her but we didn’t know she was on her own. Her family in Zimbabwe only got to know weeks later. This was when we realised that we needed an organisation to bring us together and to stop the isolation.

Out of our own experience, we realised it would be a good idea for migrant women and their families to be able to have support, to be aware of their rights, and to engage and participate in the community. We are about promoting equality and celebrating diversity, and we believe everybody deserves a chance and the opportunity to realise their full potential. We also want to empower black, Asian, and minority ethnic (BAME) people to have a voice, engage and participate in issues concerning them.