Membership Spotlight: Wai Yin Society

By Eva Nyandoro, Voice4Change England

Every month we feature one of our members and ask them what their organisation is about and what they’ve been up to. This month we caught up with Lisa Mok, Assistant Director of Wai Yin Society.

Wai Yin Society was founded in 1988 by a group of Chinese women in Greater Manchester who wanted to support women who suffered domestic violence and breakdowns in family life. Over the years the society’s programmes have expanded to meet the demands of Black and minority ethnic (BME) community groups in Manchester.  This year, Wai Yin Chinese Women’s Society changed its name to the Wai Yin Society

Lisa talked to Voice4Change about the work Wai Yin Society has been doing for over 25 years to enhance the well-being of the community. 
“As the centre has grown, we have developed a range of employment, education and community services for Chinese men and women, and for other BME groups, including Somali, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Indian and many European nationalities.  We provide a comprehensive holistic service to support our members and today our organisation has over 100 users using the services everyday,” explains Lisa.
Membership to Wai Yin Society costs £10 for individuals and £20 for families per year.  They also offer membership for six months. The centre is open Monday to Friday from 9.30am to 5.30pm.
The society uses the expertise they gained over many years to provide a centre for women, the elderly, families and the community to gain access to courses and support. “We offer a range of education and training opportunities in areas such as ESOL, health and safety education, language support, career development and support for people with mental health problems. We also offer an after school club, weekend club, and breakfast and lunch club for elderly people.” 
One of the projects that the society was involved in the past was the SEVA project that helped to support people in BME communities who suffer from mental health problems.  The organisation worked in partnership with the Pakistani Resource Centre and the African and Caribbean Mental Health Service.
Wai Yin recently celebrated the Chinese New Year of the Horse with a Chinese New Year evening banquet at the Mauldeth Hall in Manchester on the 28 January. Lisa said: “The event was well attended. We had an eight course banquet, performers, lion dancers and fire crackers. It was an opportunity for us to thank our volunteers. It was a wonderful evening.”
The organisation in recent years has achieved recognition for their hard work and dedication to the community. In September 2013 past adult learners’ students were presented with certificates for their studies. The learner support worker in their team won the Trinity ESOL Champion North West 2012 award for their hard work with the ESOL students and Wai Yin were also awarded the Social Enterprise of the Year Award in 2010.
Lisa explained that the organisation is currently facing some of its biggest challenges: “Similar to other voluntary organisations the impact of the funding cuts since 2012 to 2014 has meant we had to make some difficult financial choices. A lot of the organisations that we know quite well in the area are closing down because of the funding shortage. This had a knock on effect with the increasing demand for our services from users. We are already receiving record numbers of people applying to become members to attend the centre.
“The voluntary sector is continually facing funding cuts. The need to collaborate with other organisations is ever more pressing. We have been members of V4CE for approximately five years. V4CE has provided us with the opportunity to network with other organisations and to be able to attend training events that are tailored to our needs.”
If you would like to get involved with Wai Yin Society please contact 0161 833 0377 to speak to the team or email to find out about their latest developments.