For over 30 years the Women’s Resource Centre (WRC) of Bermuda has been a place of refuge and support for women and their families who have found themselves in difficult situations. Now, in partnership with HSBC Bank Bermuda Ltd., the Department of Workforce Development, the Department of Financial Assistance and Ultimate Imaging Diagnostic Services, they are launching a Transformational Support Services programme, focused on education, life skills and employability training for these women.

“This programme has been developed according to the needs of those who use our services,” explains Elaine Butterfield, Executive Director of the WRC. “We have identified all the areas we see in women who are underperforming in life and now we want to help them turn their lives around, by becoming economically self-sufficient.

“We have undergone a lot of change recently. We have moved into Sofia House on Church Street with Habitat for Humanity and a lawyer from Burgess Family Law so we are now a one stop shop for counseling, advocacy, education and awareness, but together we want to do more for these women. They have so much potential, they just need the right support.”

The programme has been fully funded for three years by HSBC and has 5 pillars – needs assessment, empowerment education, job training, employability skills development and finally, transitioning and on-going support.

“The ultimate aim of this programme is to help women who are unemployed, uneducated and maybe even homeless get good jobs and provide for themselves and their family,” continues Butterfield. “They will go through a needs assessment to help us understand what level they are at. Do they need addiction counseling? Are there mental health issues? They will also go through literacy and numerical assessment and placement tests. We want to assess if we can really help certain people.”

In the first year, the programme will be offered to ten women. It will then be expanded to 20 in the second year and 20 more in the third year. In the third year, the WRC will also be evaluating the impact and overall efficiency of the programme. The women must be aged 25 or older to participate.

“We’ll also assess their life-skills ability and training. We should not assume, for example, that everyone knows what healthy relationships look like,” says Butterfield. “We will be taking them through assertiveness, self-esteem and self-awareness programmes too. That is at the core. Helping women understand what that means. They need to believe in themselves.

“They also need to learn money management and parenting and co-parenting skills as well as employability skills such as initiative, motivation, team work, numeracy, literacy, organisation, time management, work ethic and integrity. “They need to understand how to dress and behave in the workplace. We will help them to develop a positive attitude and they will receive diversity training.

“Once they have completed the training and development there will be a transitioning and support component with counseling provided if needed.”

In addition to fully funding the three year project, HSBC staff will also be helping with the tutoring, mentoring, technical and vocational education aspects of the programme as well as managing the job coaching, job sharing and work shadowing placements. The Department for Workforce Development is assisting with the training and academic tutorials and Ultimate Imaging will be giving talks about health.

Yolanda Outerbridge, HSBC Head of Human Resources says “We are very proud to sponsor such a comprehensive employability and future skills programme. It will no doubt benefit those that are a part of it. Its overall focus on all aspects of need (personal, financial, employability and health) will provide a very good foundation for success.”

“These women will have the opportunity to learn skills that are essential for any job in today’s workforce and HSBC is proud to be able to play a part in helping women become not just financially independent but also to achieve a sense of pride in themselves.

“Our staff are also pleased that we are in a position to help not just financially but also to provide mentors and trainers who will give participants practical, on the job experience and job shadowing opportunities.”

For more information about the Transformational Support Services Programme, please contact the Women’s Resource Centre at or 295 3882.