Phenomenal Women across Causeway and Beyond

A group of women pose with a book
Pictured are some of the women who took part in the online Phenomenal Women programme, and they are delighted to actually meet (socially distanced) in person for the first time this month. From left to right are Janet Bamford, Carolann North, Yvonne Boyle, Barbara Donnelly, Lisa Mooney (programme co-ordinator, Building Communities Resource Centre), Indu Jairaith and Stephanie Hill who all contributed to the Housing Executive funded collection of poetry called Phenomenal Women.

Cohesion funding from the Housing Executive has helped Building Communities Resource Centre run its successful ‘Phenomenal Women’ programme.

Aimed at increasing the connection of women of all ethnicities in the community through online and offline creative writing, the popular programme also offered engagement with inspirational women, help with writing and storytelling, and sharing their work.

Their written work has been published in a short book, and each story has also been recorded on video.

Building Communities Resource Centre (BCRC) co-produced the programme in collaboration with a diverse team of leading practitioners: Nandi Jola, Iulia Picu and Charo Lanao.  They spoke about their global experiences and how they became empowered through their culture and life experiences.

Lisa Mooney, Programme Co-Ordinator at BCRC, is delighted with the impact the programme has had, and the connections and relationships formed as a result.  She said:

“The Phenomenal Women programme has brilliantly captured stories and voices of local women of all ethnicities, highlighting the local diversity of cultures here.

“Fifteen women took part in this completely online project late last year, coached and mentored by Nandi in writing skills including poetry, short stories, bios and autobiographies.

“Thanks so much for the funding from the Housing Executive – it’s helped us raise awareness of the importance of learning and promoting respect for our ever growing diverse community.

“Through the programme the women have shared stories, been curious, asked questions and gained an increased understanding and connection through cultural exchange.  This process has provided friendships and a supportive network of women who will raise each other’s voices in the community.

Coach and mentor, Nandi Jola, said:

“I love to write and enjoy sharing my skills to make people feel good.  This programme helped keep people motivated and socially engaged at a very difficult time.

“A famous quote by poet, memoirist and civil rights activist, Maya Angelou, once said: ‘There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.’”

Housing Executive Race Relations Officer, Sylwia McAvoy, said:

“We were really pleased to be able to provide Cohesion funding for the Phenomenal Women programme with BCRC, it has been a huge success in the Causeway Coast and Glens area and beyond. 

“The Phenomenal Women book has a unique front cover and is an enjoyable read.  The videos are also available to watch on the BCRC Facebook page.”

BCRC plan to run their successful programme again later this year.  Invitations to apply for Phenomenal Women 2021/22 will open in July, with the programme starting in September 2021.  Anyone interested should email

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