The women had not seen each other for 8 years, but there was an immediate connection when they met at the House of Commons. Senia Dedic, a mother from the Falcon Estate, greeted Margaret Hodge MP like an old friend and pulled out a large photograph.
As I know from canvassing with Margaret Hodge during the 2010 General election, she often asks after your family. Back then, she had discussions with thousands of residents to defeat a challenge in Barking from BNP leader Nick Griffin. Asking after Senia’s family, Margaret soon uncovered a special story.
Senia had come to the House of Commons with her teenage daughter Una on a trip I helped to organise for 50 Battersea residents, including local mothers, pensioners and a group of teenagers from the Doddington Estate.
Senia explained to Margaret Hodge that in 2004 as a government minister she had visited Battersea Sure Start, at the Katherine Low Settlement. There she met Senia and her daughter, eight-year-old Una and this photograph was taken.
Senia was inspired by the way Sure Start brought local families together. She decided to form ‘Women of Wandsworth’, the WOW Moms, a group of mothers from Wandsworth who co-operate to educate and entertain their children and teach them the importance of community.
Most WoW members – men are allowed! – are single mothers with no support, and in most cases they are from overseas or other parts of the UK and don’t have family support in Battersea.
WoW now holds regular workshops to share knowledge of healthy eating, how to improve living space, English language skills and help with training and jobs. In the past year WoW Mums volunteers could be found at Trinity Hospice, in community gardens across Battersea and at several Jubilee Street Parties.
WoW is not afraid of political involvement. Their lobbying of Tory and Labour councilors was crucial in saving York Gardens Library – and their work as volunteers helps to keep the library open.
As well as the wonderful Lavender Bridge Club for pensioners, the library now offers homework clubs for children plus free GCSE tutoring in maths and English.
Margaret Hodge found it remarkable that these women of Wandsworth, who came together to support each other, find so much time and energy to support their local community.
Senia is also a school governor and active in her local residents association – and an inspiration to local women.
And what of Una, her daughter? Well, Margaret was delighted that she had grown into such a successful young woman.
She heard that Una got the grades she needs to go to college and follow her studies to be a lawyer – thanks to the free volunteer-led GCSE tutoring at York Gardens Library. Senia said that Una, like many local children, has a brighter future thanks to Sure Start and thanks to the local Library that Wow Moms helped to save.
Senia, Una and the Women of Wandsworth show what we can achieve when we work together.
Here is a photograph of the lovely moment when Margaret Hodge mentions Una in her speech and Senia holds up the original 2004 photograph.
And one final photograph of some wonderful Women of Wandsworth…