Who Are We?
Women in Construction Arts and Technology Ltd, known as WiCAT, is a dynamic organisation run by women for women to promote and support women in non traditional trades.
Up until March 2020, WiCAT ran introductory courses for women in a whole variety of trades and skills that women don't usually have access to - all classes taught by skilled and qualified women who have construction industry experience.
We have also worked for many years to train and give valuable experience to women as volunteers, getting involved in every aspect of WiCAT, from cleaning up to delivering training, to construction work, admin work, networking and much more.
Then came LOCKDOWN!!!
A programme of classes for the whole of the year had to be cancelled, even the majority of our volunteer work had to stop because of social distancing.
Despite all the challenges - we are still here! We continue to be involved in the local community, in particular with Firth Park Community Allotments, Foodworks and the Endeavour Centre.
Unfortunately, the pandemic continued to scupper our work, when we lost our much valued office and teaching space. Whilst our equipment remains stored at Endeavour, we are homeless and unlikely to be able to deliver classes in the same way as before.
However! We have just begun a pilot project for teaching very small groups of experienced students on a live project at the allotment. We are looking at different ways of delivering teaching for the future and hope to be able to have more small classes soon. We will also continue to work with volunteers in small groups.
Funding is always an issue, and smaller groups mean higher costs, so a lot of thinking outside the box is going on in order to make the future as accessible as possible.
In the meantime we are focusing on getting our website up to date in order to keep people informed of what is happening. Please keep checking in with us - but bare in mind we have no paid workers so cannot be in regular contact with people.
HAPPY INTERNATIONAL WOMEN'S DAY 2021!
Abbeydale Brewery have launched a wonderful offer for International Women’s Day which they hope will raise some funds for WiCAT
One of Sheffield’s longest established and most well-loved breweries, Abbeydale Brewery was founded in 1996. Independent, creative and just a little eccentric, their beers span a wide range of styles and flavours - from their flagship pale ale, Moonshine, to their progressive Brewers Emporium range and Funk Dungeon barrel ageing project.
100 Years of Women in Building!
A couple of fascinating articles to celebrate International Women's Day, about female housing campaigners and reformers from more than 100 years ago.
Click on the two links below to find out more
Manager of Firth Park Community Allotments, Dot Rodman, writes about the partnership work between WiCAT and FPCA throughout 2020-21:
Our year started so well with eight enthusiastic students who worked on creating an extension framework on our top shed. Unfortunately, lockdown stopped classes on site.
We wanted to share our crops with the wider community in these difficult times, Claudia became our link with Foodworks allowing us to donate crops.
WiCAT donated many materials to reclaim – recycle – reuse on our award-winning project. They identified an old rusty metal cupboard at Endeavour which was recycled on our plot. First our women D.I.Y. volunteers cleaned and prepared it, and then our Chinese student volunteers created our magnificent “Dragon’s Den” storage unit.
Always working to improve safety and access on site here, we worked with materials donated by WiCAT to create a new block paved entrance to our poly tunnel.
Using timber donated by WiCAT we created a new fruit cage for our blueberries.
We were so impressed with the continued support from WiCAT and especially from Claudia, who has tirelessly given to our allotment project since 2007, that in 2020 we nominated her as a UK Construction Week Role Model in a national competition. Needless to say, she was selected as one of the worthy winners!
We look forward to more exiting venture with WiCAT in 2021 …
International Women's Day 2020
International Women's Day with WiCAT went down a storm on Sunday March 8th 2020
More than 30 women and girls turned up to take part in some DIY taster sessions. Pointing, Wallpapering, Mosaic, Dry Stone Walling, Decorative Paint Effects, Joinery and Electrics were all on offer throughout the day and 23 different workshops took place!
One of the students commented: "Today we have learned some essential skills, thanks to @wicatsheffield we can now point our outside walls, wallpaper our inside walls, rewire plugs, sockets and light fittings, make things out of wood and dry stone walling! All in all a good few hours!"
A fantastic lunch was on offer and most students stayed around to take part in the whole day.
The event was funded partly by the students through a GoFundMe appeal, with other funds being donated by WiCAT.
The day was a great introduction for the women and girls to some of the variety of classes and opportunities on offer at WiCAT - many women expressed a keen interest in learning more DIY skills and taking part in one of the many construction classes on offer. Others were keen to become involved as volunteers, gaining experience in a wide range of skills.
Would you like to advertise your business on our website? For low cost advertising space, please click the following link:
Pledge a Tenner!
Can you support WiCAT by making a small annual (or monthly) donation?
Pledging just £10 per year can make a massive difference to WiCAT and would help make sure we are able to stick around and continue to put on classes.
For more information, please click on the link below - thank you
Amazing Opportunity to learn some traditional heritage skills abroad!!
Check out this video for an entertaining look at a brick making course in Cyprus!
Time lapse photo shoot from the Vast View building project in Romania in 2013 that a couple of WiCAT people were involved in - Follow our link to Grampus Heritage to see other projects that you could be involved in with them - fantastic opportunities all over Europe!
Check out the link above to the Seven Hills Women's Institute Blogspot to see what fun was had when the WI and WICAT came together!
Garden Classroom Build Project
Over two weekends WiCAT built a garden classroom for Endeavour. It didn’t exactly JUST take a couple of weekends. The Autumn was spent preparing the foundations with rubble and concrete.
The first weekend, we constructed the base of the building in blizzard conditions. We were really pleased to see some new faces and despite the weather, they really put some effort in. Some of the new women joining us work in offices, and wanted to do something outdoors and energetic. We certainly helped tick those boxes.
The second weekend was just amazing. From just the base, the building gradually rose from the foundation to an almost complete building on the Saturday. We had some of the same faces back from the previous week, keen to volunteer again especially in wonderful dry weather conditions. Our female volunteers are pretty keen! Once we had all the tools and we had found all the right pieces, the flatpack shed went up in no time at all. We had all the walls up by lunchtime!. The roof took a little bit longer due to the number of ladders and drills we had available. By dusk most of the roof was on and we had some very happy, satisfied women, rightly proud of how much they had achieved in a day.
Our volunteers generally come from Sheffield and the surrounding area, but this weekend we were really lucky to have Imogen come all the way from Cambridge. Imogen has finished her apprentice as a joiner and works for a company as the sole tradeswoman. She came to volunteer with us so that she could meet other like-minded women. It made us all realise how lucky we are to have this group of people that come together regularly. We don’t just teach classes and do great volunteer work together. We form bonds and help each other with knowledge and encouragement. In the near future we are going to be starting regular networking events so that we can foster this feeling of support. Let us know if you would be interested!
The best bit about the day for me, was the camaraderie developing from the previous week and the way that everyone helped each other and worked really well as a team. There were boring bits to do as well as the building work. We had to gather all the pre-cut wood out of the undercroft and figure out which pieces went where. There was a great deal of heavy lifting to do, but everyone helped and our spirits were high, especially as Laura bought home made cupcakes with her both weekends.
As we hadn’t quite finished, Laura came back on Sunday and had a lovely day in the sunshine finishing off the roof and felting it. So a massive shout out to Laura for spending all of her weekend at Endeavour!
Record Number of Women Trade Workers
A recent article in the Mail Online claims that a record number of trade workers including builders and plumbers are now female, accounting for almost 6% of the industry.
There has been a massive increase in the number of women taking up classes in DIY, plastering, tiling, plumbing and other trades - to read the article in full, follow this link
Mandy does it again!
Mandy Reynolds is one of our tutors at Wicat and the chair of our Management Committee. The following article is from the Sheffield Star on 23rd June 2013:
Double success a shock for electrician Mandy Female Electrician Mandy Reynolds from Totley in Sheffield winner of the Which? Local Business of the Year for Yorkshire and Humberside 18 June 2013
Image Paul David Drabble www.pauldaviddrabble.co.uk
Electrician Mandy Reynolds is a bit of a bright spark – she’s just won a top business award for the second time in three years.
The 55-year-old, from Heeley, has been named the region’s best local trader by website Which? Local – based on feedback from her customers.
She won the same accolade in 2011 and went on then to win the national title of Business of the Year.
Mandy said: “I was gobsmacked to win two years ago and I am utterly thrilled to have won again. I have some wonderful customers, who have taken their time to review my business on the website, so it is they I have to thank.”
Mandy is one of a select few – it’s estimated that less than one per cent of electricians in the UK are women. “Women are smart – they’ll choose a career at which they can really succeed,” she said. “and this is a very physical job, you have to lift floorboards and shift stones, so that is an issue – you do need to keep fit. But I don’t think there’s discrimination at work here. “after all if a client doesn’t want to employ a woman then they don’t ring you in the first place – so there’s no way of knowing if I’d be more successful if I was a man, I think I do bring female attributes to the job. We tend to be painstaking, tidier and we show empathy with the customer. And I do get a lot of repeat business.”
Mandy set up her company Mand Made in 2006 after quitting a career in the financial services industry. She found a base at an electrical and hardware shop in Totley, which is run by her husband Paul.
“I had no experience, not even remotely, but I wanted to find a service that would always be in demand, perhaps something to do with homes. Passing the exams only takes a couple of months – it’s then about getting known through word of mouth.”
Mandy’s business was still in its infancy when the recession struck in 2008.
“In a way I’ve never known anything but tough times and I’ve still managed to make a go of it. I do enjoy being my own boss and building the company, and I now have a young woman who is doing her training with me,” Mandy said. “There’s a different sort of stress to that which I experienced before, but now I’m doing it for me, not for someone else where the best I could hope for was a bonus. Now it’s all about seeing the business flourish.”