With Church Action on Poverty’s support, new Self-Reliant Groups are emerging across Greater Manchester. Link Worker Joyce Kay explains how SRGs are changing people’s lives.
Church Action on Poverty has been supporting Self-Reliant Groups since 2014, when I travelled to India with a team from the Church of Scotland to see this self-help movement first-hand, and to consider how communities in the UK could benefit from the approach.
People across Greater Manchester have now set up SRGs with our help. All the groups meet weekly, save small amounts, share skills, and make products to sell – for example handicrafts, catering for small local events, creative writing, and card making.
Serving the community
All the SRGs have been active in serving their local community. Recoverista Sistas SRG are running a local hub in Salford where they can provide a cuppa and cake for anyone interested in joining a SRG. They have also supported local campaigns on Mental Health, Breast Cancer Awareness Week, and Manchester Pride.
“I love this group and it has such amazing potential. This turned into a rainbow, a symbol of change, which is evolving into a welcome present for my new grandchild.”
Jane Wood (pictured), plaiting and chatting at the Friday afternoon SRG meeting
Creative Flairs SRG in Bury organised a Christmas fair which became a large community event and raised money for the church where they meet – as well as getting an extra 25–30 people involved as volunteers on the day.
A national network
Our SRG work is delivered in partnership with WEvolution, the Glasgow-based organisation who introduced SRGs to the UK. For example, the Footloose SRG from Old Trafford recently attended a peer event in Glasgow, sharing ideas and networking with members of established SRGs in Scotland and elsewhere. We have a good working relationship with Purple Shoots, who are establishing SRGs in Wales and South West England.
This informal network provides peer support and learning, making SRGs even more valuable for their members.
All Write on th’ Height is an SRG in Salford that meets weekly and combines creative writing with photography from Salford locations to produce beautiful cards with a message. Once a month they open the meetings to anyone interested in creative writing. They use some of their savings and earnings for trips to the theatre, so their SRG has social and educational value for the members too.
About Self-Reliant Groups
SRG members support each other, meet regularly, and save money together in small amounts like £1 a week. They learn together and can use their savings to set up micro-enterprises or support one another with loans.