Member profile of Granaghan and district women's group.

Granaghan and District Women’s group is a small, (but mighty) women’s group, formed in 1994, the same year as The Downing Street Declaration. It is based in the small village of Swatragh, in county Derry, on the main A29. Most traffic passes through the village, without stopping!

The group has been running, non-stop, for the past 27 years, providing an impressive range of activities, primarily for women and girls in the local area, and beyond. The committee is 100% volunteer-led which means we have NO paid workers so that is testament to the vision, commitment and dedication of our committee throughout the last quarter of a century, and more.

Since 2000 we ran our activities in the newly-built Resource Centre in the village but when Covid-19 struck in March 2020 our group immediately suspended all our face-to-face  activities. Those were dark, frightening weeks during the first Lockdown when people stayed at home and very little was known about Covid-19 or what was to follow…..

However, our women’s group quickly upskilled, (it wasn’t easy for us) as did our tutors, and, in May of last year, we totally reconfigured the way we delivered our activities!

From May to December 2020 we delivered:

48 sessions of Yoga and Pilates, 12 Crochet, 10 Demo Cookery, 6 Mindfulness, 9 cookery and craft sessions for our Open Doors Club, 10 Meditation, 1 Hallowe’en and 1 Christmas Jumping Clay for kids. 300 people enrolled for these sessions.

The women’s group finished up the year with their wonderful “Festive Food” project, where, with funding from the National Lottery and in conjunction with the two local eateries in the village, 100 Christmas meals and other bits and bobs were delivered to 100 people in the community.

From January to May this year our group organised 15 sessions of Meditation/Mindfulness, 8 craft sessions for our Open Doors Club, 8 Demo cookery, 8 Baby Massage and Yoga, 8 Crochet, 16  Yoga, 16 Pilates, 8 Tai chi, 12 Self-care Hour and a St Patrick’s day Jumping Clay session  for kids. All 100 sessions were delivered digitally and all free to our beneficiaries.


We also got involved in Vegetarian Cookery demos in November with Scottish Roving Chef, Claire Bannermann.

The women’s group has been running a weekly Open Doors Club on a Wednesday evening for over 21 years for people with additional needs and this also went online, since September, using Zoom to deliver classes.

The group is also involved in a joint Peace 4 cross community project with the men’s sheds in Upperlands, Toome and Ballymaguigan and the women’s group in The Loup.

Also, our “Sow and Grow in The Swa” project is still alive although naturally on a restricted basis, due to Covid. We got a new potting shed and veggie beds in the last two months and meet every Wednesday morning to sow and grow.

These hundreds of sessions that we provided kept our members safe and connected, fit physically, emotionally and mentally, bringing much needed connection, friendship, structure and routine into members’ lives. The sessions were, needless to say, therapeutic in so many ways,- calming, reducing anxiety etc.

The group would like to say that one of the most fantastic aspects of delivering these activities via Facebook LIVE or Zoom is that all the videos were saved and stored on the relevant FB Live Page so members could revisit the videos, 24/7. So, it didn’t matter if you worked 9-5, did nightshift or were mostly at home, you could access these activities as often as you wanted or needed to.


Networking is always a big part of our continuing success. Networking with groups such as Costa, CRUN, Cwsan, the Conservation Volunteers, Engage with Age, the Junction, Involve House, Magherafelt District Council, NICHI, NIRWN, RCN, Supporting Communities, The National Lottery and WRDA, to mention a few of our current partners.


Also, our group could not continue its work for and in the community without constantly applying for and being awarded funding to subsidise our activities and make them so affordable in these challenging times.


Deirdre would like to pay tribute to the committee of 11 of  Granaghan & District Women’s Group who work tirelessly to provide the best level of activities and care they can for all the people in the local area, not just women.


Above all, perhaps it is the unending support, goodwill and encouragement of people in the local area (especially in the Mid-Ulster and CRUN council areas) that is the final piece of the jigsaw of our enduring success.

The three biggest issues facing women in our community are I think are:

Struggling to gain equality of opportunity;

Striving to thrive not just survive, especially with the adverse effect of Covid on women’s mental health;

As regards our committee keeping doing what we are doing, for our beneficiaries, on a voluntary basis. Not easy.


This Profile is by Deirdre Bradley, Chair of Granaghan and District Women’s Group. To get in touch with the group DM them on Instagram at @gdwg_swatragh