FTWW was absolutely thrilled to even have been nominated for the Wales Council for Voluntary Action (WCVA) award of ‘Most Admired Organisation’. To then discover that the shortlist and winner would be decided upon by a public vote had us crestfallen – after all, we have only been formally constituted a little over 9 months and, although we are attracting new members almost daily, we felt that we stood little chance against some amazing competition.
Every one of the charities and groups shortlisted is doing fantastic work in the community, and all of them had considerable numbers of well-deserved supporters: The Fern Partnership, based in Rhondda Cynon Taf delivers childcare, health, and well-being projects in its locality; Headway Cardiff works to improve the lives of hundreds of people affected by acquired brain injury; Awel Aman Tawe has spent 18 years working on setting up a wind farm which is currently supplying electricity to around 2,500 Swansea homes, and Soroptimist International Wales South has led the way in campaigning on anti-human trafficking.
We therefore arrived in Cardiff on the evening of 16th February, after over 4 hours on the train, not feeling especially confident, and having talked ourselves out of any prospect of winning! Nevertheless, the fact that we were going to a black-tie awards ceremony in the luxurious surroundings of the St David’s Hotel, Cardiff Bay made us all feel very special.
The last 18 months have involved a lot of incredibly hard, often emotional, work supporting our several hundred members and advocating for thousands more. Even if we didn’t win, just being there was recognition of our efforts and, most importantly, the pain and hardship of countless girls and women in the region. As always, we saw this as an opportunity to spread the word and continue to raise awareness. Getting dressed-up in our frocks was a bonus!
Our award was last on the programme, with Sian Lloyd, BBC Wales news-reader doing a sterling job of presenting. We were astounded when she informed the audience that this last award was the ‘most prestigious’ – and even more astounded when she proceeded to call out ‘Fair Treatment for the Women of Wales’ as the 2016 winners, to a huge round of applause!
Achieving this success is in no small part due to the fact that endometriosis – a disease which affects so many, so badly, which is shrouded in mystery, misinformation, and prejudice – is finally getting the recognition it deserves. Girls and women in Wales, their families, and their communities have finally had enough of being told that this disease (and others like it) is ‘in their heads’ and are fighting to have their voices heard.
As a result of FTWW’s efforts, Welsh Government plans on working with us to make endometriosis a priority. Talks begin next month so, along with the Welsh leg of this year’s EndoMarch, taking place in Cardiff, the month of March 2017 looks to be a crucial turning point in the lives of endometriosis patients in Wales.
Thank you, WCVA – and all of our supporters – for recognising this milestone, as we begin to look to expanding our provision to other conditions similarly affecting women in the region.