How do you eat an elephant?

SAHSSI first met Helen Dwyer and Lisa Brooke in February 2017 when they were embarking on this ambitious project. It is called The EVE Project. EVE standing for:

EQUALITY ~ VALUE ~ EMPOWERMENT

Helen and Lisa have combined their skills, experience and passion in business, event management, hospitality and the community services sector to build a program that once fully realised, will offer a trauma informed healing journey for women from crisis through to a thriving and sustainable future. We’re all a little bit excited about this (not just Helen and Lisa ;-P)!

SAHSSI interviewed Helen and Lisa to find out the following information to share.

Tell us a little more about The EVE Project – the what, who and the why (not sure that is the appropriate order but let’s go with this)?

To which Helen responded, “How do you eat an elephant? Let me explain”

“The EVE Project is a not for profit organisation that offers female survivors of abuse a multi-faceted approach to support them as they rebuild their lives. We provide:

(1) therapeutic services to help women heal and regain their sense of self-worth, value and purpose; and

(2) training, mentoring and supported work experience programs (in our social enterprise, EVE & Co) designed to empower women and provide pathways to meaningful ongoing employment.

The EVE Project is open to female survivors of abuse aged 18 years and over who are ready to explore employment opportunity and training through EVE & Co’s hospitality initiatives. It provides a safe and nurturing environment for women to dream and build a sustainable future for themselves and their children.

Women who enter our program are at different life stages and come to us from varied situations and backgrounds, they typically face numerous barriers to employment or training.  Women we work with may include those who have experienced trauma resulting from: sexual assault, domestic and family violence, culturally related abuse, homelessness, sex work, imprisonment, LGBTIQ+ identity, mental health and/or past substance abuse issues”.

“We believe everyone has unique value and something to contribute to their community.  We also believe that women are worth so much more than what society often throws at them or limits them to and we certainly believe that women should be freed from the barriers they often experience resulting from something that was so wrongfully done to them!  The EVE Project was birthed through a shared passion and vision to see an alternative future for women who live with trauma as the result of past abuse perpetrated upon them.”

So, two years down the track, Helen and Lisa revisited SAHSSI this time with more than just a vision – where are they at now?

“After two and a half years of planning, fundraising and building a strong foundation, in February 2019 we launched our Social Enterprise, EVE & Co, as a pop up food van and will begin piloting our program from mid-2019 (dates to be confirmed).  We propose to take between five to ten women through our program over the 12 month pilot and will invite them and their respective case managers/therapists to speak into the program to include the vital voice of lived experience and to further refine the program.  For the pilot we are looking for women (without children or with existing access to child care) who have stable accommodation, are high functioning and are interested in exploring employment opportunities via a supported work experience program.

And how does the future look?

Helen and Lisa advised they would like to collate findings from the pilot (Stage 1 of The EVE Project complete), continue to develop relevant business and program partnerships, fundraise for Stage 2 of the venture. Stage 2 of the project involves locating, securing and developing a permanent site for a cafe and produce gardens. 

What is the end vision?

“The final Stage 3 – securing rural land to set up our healing centre! The dream is HUGE, can be overwhelming and daunting BUT it’s so exciting!”  

“So how do you eat an elephant?  Quite simply one bite at a time!”

What does SAHSSI think of The Project Eve and their visions to date?

“Social enterprises apply business solutions to social problems. SAHSSI know that women impacted by trauma do need a supportive, understanding and nurturing work experience environment to give them the best chance at success. As a Specialist Homelessness Service, SAHSSI also understands that work experience and employment outcomes are much needed goals empowering women to tackle an ever rising rental market that is just so unaffordable, especially for women on NewStart. This project has the foundations to provide these women with an experience of the upmost quality from whole foods to produce gardens in a funky and fun environment. We need more social enterprise projects and more ambitious and entrepreneurial people embarking on these ventures! This is why SAHSSI is sharing this story, the innovations, hard work and sleepless nights of two women on a mission. We wish them the best of luck and are looking forward to supporting with the Stage 1 pilot, referring women and providing case management support, working collaboratively with The EVE Project on empowerment and recovery”.