You may remember last year I went surfing with Layne Beachley. It was an amazing experience, but it wasn’t really about surfing, it was about the realisation of a long-held vision that was suddenly within my reach. The Layne Beachley Foundation’s Aim for the Stars scholarship gifted me with the funding to be able to run financial literacy workshops for migrant women which included child care and interpreter services.
Money Matters for Migrants took place in December 2018 and its focus was on providing a completely free, immersive experience for women from a migrant background. I was thrilled to have the resources to be able to offer this life changing event but I took away way more than I expected.
The human element
The participants at the workshop came from a range of backgrounds and levels of financial knowledge but I also wanted to support small, like-minded businesses so I chose catering, speakers and staff that came from a migrant background as well. Each person brought their own story and we were so fortunate that many of them felt compelled to share them on the day, it really helped to connect us all together. This was also an opportunity for me to share my migration story.
An event is not a workshop
Since I started Financially Empowered in 2014 I have facilitated numerous workshops as well as been engaged as a keynote and guest speaker. When I was planning Money Matters for Migrants, I figured I would just draw on those experiences, after all how much different would an event be?
Turns out it’s pretty different! I have a renewed respect for anyone that plans events there are so many small details that you need to keep your eye on and many complications that may arise that you need to have a contingency plan for. Little things like name tags, registration sheets, parking for attendees, ensuring all speakers are well informed….the list is much longer than I expected!
Enlist some help
When I wrote my initial application for the Aim for the Stars scholarship, I tried to include all the expenses and resources I thought I would need. I included the time I would need to have my assistant help with all the behind the scenes and then I figured I would handle the rest of the stuff on my own on the day. Before I knew it I had allocated myself the role of MC, speaker, event planner, registration attendant and a heap of other little jobs. I realised very quickly that I needed to call in some help and found some willing volunteers. Sometimes it really does take a village and I am glad I was savvy enough to ask for help as the event ran a lot smoother because of it.
Call in the experts
When I was planning the event I considered putting together a presentation on what free services were available to migrant women that they may not be aware of. To create the kind of knowledge rich environment I was hoping for, I approached a variety of speakers to present about their services but also made sure each could have their own stall setup where they could showcase all their services and connect with the participants. I was so pleased with the final line up which included:
- National Debt Helpline (Financial Counselling Services) – http://www.ndh.org.au/
- ISHAR Multicultural Health Centre (Women’s Health Services) – https://www.ishar.org.au/
- No Interest Loans Scheme – https://nils.com.au/
- Kalahari Business Consultants (Tax advice) http://kalaharigroup.com.au/
- Richmond Wellbeing (Mental Health Services) – https://www.rw.org.au/
- City of Canning (Community Support) – https://www.canning.wa.gov.au/
Removing barriers is important
No matter who you are working with or catering to it is beneficial to think about how you can remove the barriers for those people so they have the best experience. If you are a consultant perhaps it is just occasionally offering meeting times that are after hours. For this event I knew that it was possible that English may be a second (third or fourth) language for some of the women and a lot of them would also be mothers with young children. I didn’t want anyone to not be able to attend due to lack of childcare, I understood that for some mothers having the option to have childcare on the premises would be the tipping point to get them in the room so I made sure we had a free creche available and that all participants knew that was an option.
Along the same lines I knew that if there was the option of an interpreter it would not only impact who could attend but it would help convey all the information we wanted to pass on so much easier. I also ensured that all dietary needs were catered for by providing a Halal menu and the option for any other dietary restrictions, after all who doesn’t learn better on a full stomach 😉
I am a big believer in giving it your all first time and then using that success and learnings, time and time again.