SAVS Celebrates Women in the Voluntary Sector for International Women’s Day 2024

Published on: March 8, 2024

International Women’s Day (March 8) is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women. This year’s campaign theme is ‘Inspire Inclusion’ with the aim to encourage others to understand and value women’s contributions to society, collectively creating a more inclusive world.

As a ‘Council of Voluntary Services’ (CVS), SAVS role is to support, promote and represent Southend’s thriving voluntary sector – often working behind the scenes to help local charities and community groups achieve their full potential through targeted projects including training, funding searches, networking events, marketing support and more!

With a growing membership of charities, community and faith groups, we support 100’s of organisations of various sizes and meet amazing people in the voluntary sector every day. To celebrate International Women’s Day 2024, we want to help put women in the voluntary sector in the spotlight and have chosen 4 women to profile.

If you would like to learn more about how SAVS supports Southend’s Voluntary Sector, click here.

Kirsty Fields, Founder of ‘Off the Streets’ homeless shelter.

Off the Streets’ is a charity offering a second chance at creating a safer, more stable, future for those that are vulnerable and in need.

Talking about the rewards of her role, Kirsty said, “From having the idea to seeing the charity grow, it has been a very rewarding journey. We see people at their lowest get to where they want to be, which is the best bit of my job.”

SAVS asked Kirsty what International Women’s Day meant to her, she continues, “It’s a day to recognise how far women’s rights and gender equality have come, but equally a day to recognize what still needs to be done. One of my favourite quotes is ‘A woman with a voice is by definition a strong woman, but the search to find that voice can be remarkably difficult’.”


Mrs Nirmal Gupta, MBE, Chairperson/Trustee of Essex Asian Women’s Association

Essex Asian Women’s Association’s (EAWA) primary functions are in empowering women, promoting wellbeing, reducing isolation and championing cultural harmony in Essex, through a range of services and activities. Since 2008 they have been organising social events, health events, coach trips, exercise/swimming classes, as well as working with many other local charities/voluntary organisations, assisting domestic abuse sufferers and making donations to worthy causes such as, Southend Hospital.

Nirmal said, “I have been Founder, Chairperson and Trustee, of Essex Asian Women’s Association (EAWA) since 2008 and my role is to ensure that our charitable goals are met every year and to ensure that all trustees, committee members, general members and third parties are able to contribute to making our charity as successful as possible. I love being able to communicate and co-ordinate with all stakeholders of EAWA so we can maximise the potential of the charity and deliver the largest benefits for all of our members and the local community.”

Speaking with SAVS about International Women’s Day, Nirmal continued, “International Women’s Day is a celebration of the remarkable achievements and contributions of women throughout history, serving as a powerful reminder that gender equality is essential for a thriving and just society. It also calls for collective action to break down barriers, empower women, and create a world where every woman can reach her full potential.

Nirmal’s favourite Inspiring Quote, ‘Strive constantly to serve the welfare of the world; by devotion to selfless work one attains the supreme goal of life.’ – Bhagavad Gita

Kim Drake, CEO of Little Heroes ASD

“When my son started school, I was asked by our portage worker to help set up a monthly coffee morning at Summercourt children centre – as time went on and the need was increasing, I let my heart lead the way.  Almost 12 years on, and the coffee morning has developed into a grassroots charity that is a lifeline for over 750 local families of children with autism, offering a wide range of daily face-to-face sessions to support local families.”

Little Heroes ASD‘s growth is amazing and we are now moving into bigger and better premises (the former Trinity Sports and Social Club) that we hope will be our forever home!”

“I love listening to families and really making a difference in their journey, being able to truly understand what they are going through can make all the difference.”

“Throughout the journey of the charity, I have met some amazing, passionate women with a can do attitude.  I have built up a core support group who I know that I can check-in with if there is ever a time I need to talk to someone who understands.  Leading such an organisation is a massive responsibility, but we all understand and no question is ever a silly question.”

Kim concludes, “Never Say Never – our children amaze us and a little patience and understanding will ensure that they are enabled rather than disabled.”

*Picture: Kim (top left) and the Little Heroes ASD team at their Charity Fundraising Gala 2023.

Natalie Rolison, Lead Nurse at Lady McAdden Breast Cancer Trust

“I have been working at Lady McAdden for 4 years. I love being part of something I am so passionate about – education and awareness. I love how varied my job is too!”

Lady McAdden Breast Cancer Trust is a local Breast Cancer Charity raising awareness of breast cancer, through early detection and early diagnosis. Lady McAdden support people with any concerns regarding their breast health.

Natalie continues, “We can empower women to check themselves and be breast aware. It all plays a part to knowing what is normal for you, so you then know what is not normal.”

Natalie’s favourite quote, ‘A girl should be 2 things: who and what she wants.’ – Coco Chanel


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