International Women's Day

Noirgaze Stories:
International Women's Day

Celebrating the Female Pillars of Society
So often, the role of women in society is unrecognised or watered down - and the 8th March is a day to change this around. We visited the Waterloo Action Centre to find out more about the stories of the leading women of Waterloo's community, and we are immensely proud to share their stories with you.
The Women of the Waterloo Action Centre 

In between Lower Marsh and the Old Vic (London), you will find a beautiful brick building housing the Waterloo Action Centre, a centre for the local community since 1972. We visited and spoke to the women of the Centre to find out more.
 Jenny Stiles is the vice-chair of the Waterloo Action Centre, and is one of those who started it all back in 1972. Back then, the building was too dangerous for use, but Lambeth Council gifted it to the community, which gradually renovated it and made it its home.
  At the WAC, Jenny puts an emphasis on including those who feel excluded, prioritising the community, and believes everyone can contribute in their own way. Today, the WAC, as she enumerates, is the home of knitting, sewing, dancing, playing chess or draughts, soup lunches, and quizzes (which she personally hosts). The WAC is also renowned for its free legal advice service, soliciting the services of some of the best lawyers and barristers - a drop-in service used by 80 to 100 people every Thursday evening. Since the pandemic, the legal advice service is now appointments-based - however, as Jenny explains, the pandemic allowed the community to value itself and realise just how important it is.
  Throughout her life, Jenny has also helped break down barriers between faiths during the Troubles in Old Peoples' Homes on request of the Northern Irish government, as well as helped the Docklands area of London's communities have their voice heard - although, she recalls, wasn't always successful - during the redevelopment which involved creating the global financial centre it is today.
Asher Robinson-Jones is a volunteer who primarily deals with homelessness at the WAC. Asher was born and bred in the area and grew up with the Centre - as she recalls, going out then "coming for a warm meal" or for getting help with homework. This is her second home, a place of kindness, which helped her when she needed it - motivating her to 'give back' today. Asher's volunteering work concentrates around direct the homeless towards the services that they need, charging their phones, makes appointments, sorts out paperwork - things that we do on a daily basis without thinking twice about them.
"Be kind"
- Asher Robinson-Jones
Throughout her life, she has seen this area change: "everyone knew each other on the market - but not anymore", emphasising the importance of this community centre. She deplores the gentrification of the area, which pushes 'normal people' into homelessness, and "leaves so many empty flats that could be used to house people instead of leaving them empty".
 At the WAC, Francine Peertum who was originally born in Paris, but moved to south-east London at age 4. She's been volunteering as a receptionist at the Centre for a year, alongside her studying at the local Morley College. Through her work, she helps people make appointments, picks up the phone, photocopies important documents for the users of the centre, and participates in creating the assets to promote events at the Centre, such as leaflets. She believes that the Centre empowers women: "I can see the difference here - the women here are confident and are happy". For Francine, she believes that her characters stems from her grandmother, who whilst working in World-War-II-torn Paris, raised six children herself and hid Jewish children so that they wouldn't be deported.
All three of these women are strong and inspirational women who really make a change and are pillars of the community. 
Today, the Centre is independently funded, as they had their funding cut, through hiring their halls - however, the Council raising their rent may make the Waterloo Action Centre a community of the past.
Female & Sustainable
We are a female-owned brand designed femininity-inspired sustainable bags for everyday wear. With every purchase this week, we will donate 5% of our sales to empowering the women and the community of the Waterloo Action Centre.
Thank you for reading and lots of love to all the women of the world,
the Noirgaze team xx