Success Stories

Since our inception in 2005 Women Making a Difference have trained over 700 women across Wales, empowering them with the skills, ability and confidence to succeed.

We believe it is important to share some of the success stories to encourage other women to achieve their potential. On these pages you will find a series of real women's stories on how they overcame their barriers and achieved the goals that they set for themselves.

All of these women have taken part in the Women Making a Difference training programme.

Fran Smith

Women Making a Difference inspired Fran, from Penarth, to become an active board member putting her passion for education and holistic principles to excellent use.

In her early life, Fran struggled with boarding school and found the traditional classroom environment challenging. As an adult, she now realises her typically dyslexic tendencies were never formally diagnosed. Then, at age 11, Fran’s childhood became even more difficult following the tragic loss of her mother. She fought to deal with the grief and emotional distress of her loss without much support.

It wasn’t until adulthood that Fran could process the grief. While studying beauty therapy at London’s Steiner College, Fran became interested in complementary therapies as a way of healing body and mind. Fran wanted to share this knowledge and harness the empathy she felt for others to help them overcome stress and regain their health and vitality. So she studied many alternative treatments including aromatherapy, reflexology, kinesiology and counselling skills before setting up her own successful business.  Starting a family made Fran reassess her priorities and she scaled back her business to work from home and spend more time with her children.

Fast forward to 2013. Fran was feeling a little frustrated and stuck in a rut that she couldn’t see a way out of. For years, she had worked from home. While being great for family life, the environment had become socially isolating for Fran. She had lots of success in the one-to-one setting helping people cope with stress. She wanted to share the amazing results she was seeing more widely but didn’t know how. She’d also self-published a book on wellbeing and wanted to get it out in the public arena. She knew she wanted to do more but wasn’t sure what.

A friend told Fran about Women Making a Difference’s courses that help women learn about public life and the opportunities it holds. Fascinated, Fran signed up. Previously, government policy was something she knew little about. As she progressed, she found herself getting to grips with how the Welsh Government and Assembly works and meeting Assembly Members. Hearing successful women speaking about their journeys was inspiring and Fran wanted to learn more. She signed up for further courses and a mentoring scheme. She was hooked.

No longer was Fran stuck at home working in isolation. She was speaking to women from all kinds of backgrounds with totally different life experiences. Meeting these women gave her new friends, but also new perspectives on the world. Listening to other women’s ideas, ways of working and achievements opened Fran’s mind to new possibilities and ways of engaging with people.

Instead of just moaning about change but feeling powerless to do anything about it, Fran now has the networks and confidence to go out and make something happen. Fran also feels more connected within the local community and globally through involvement in social action projects. The snowball effect of getting out of the house led to helping organise a multicultural winter wellbeing event, taking part in an anti slavery campaign, and getting her therapeutic poetry to a wider audience by taking part in several readings, open mic events and through blogging.

Fran isn’t just shaking up change -- she’s making decisions. Now, she serves on the board of the Kinesiology Federation. The role, she says, is easier than she thought it would be, though she feels she still has lots to learn and is still benefiting from a mentor. She has quickly realised that she already had many of the skills needed to be an effective board member and identifies good communication, planning skills and a willingness to get involved as being top priorities. Being on the marketing sub committee has been outside her comfort zone but she has been pleasantly surprised by how much she is achieving.

Vision and long term goal setting is also hugely important to the board, and Fran is excited for the organisation’s future plans to work with the NHS and get the benefits of kinesiology more widely acknowledged. She is enjoying the new challenges that come with sitting on a board and would encourage other women to follow her steps.

“It’s a great feeling that I am helping to make a difference.”

Welsh Government            newassembly

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