Spotlight on our Projects – Best Start!

Best Start, delivered in partnership with Touchstone, is a free 6 week peer support course for expecting parents and parents/carers of children under 2.  Focusing on how to manage stress, where to look for extra support, how to improve communication with others and much more, Best Start is different from other “parenting courses” you may have come across.  The main source of support at Best Start comes from like-minded people who are able to share relevant personal experiences and provide practical ways of dealing with different situations.

We have a free crèche and the project is perfect for anyone wanting to meet other people and make new friends, boost their confidence, learn new skills and help others in the process! Six wonderful women have just completed the 6 week course at Middleton Play and Learning Centre and are already eagerly sharing what they learnt on the course with others in their community and spreading their knowledge far and wide.


Ten women, who have completed the initial 6 weeks course, are now completing the Best Start Peer Training course. These fantastic women are training to become peer volunteers and Best Start Buddies. They will go on to support new parents and carers to attend future Best Start courses, run their own groups in their local communities, and support Best Start facilitators run even more Best Start groups in the near future!


If you are interested in getting involved with the project, get in touch!


Spotlight on our staff… hi from Lucy P!

If you’re a regular reader, you’ll know that we like to regularly introduce you to members of our team.  It’s Lucy P’s turn to tell you more about herself and her role.

What does your role involve?

I work for the a project bringing together maternity services called Maternity Voices Partnership (MVP).  I chair the main meetings every three months, which involves professionals from the maternity services and women and families who use the services. The idea is to inform and guide professionals working in the hospital trusts about the women’s experience of the treatment they received being pregnant, giving birth and after care concerning their health and wellbeing.  I arrange meetings with volunteers who help promote the MVP group and gather feedback from other mums from a wide background who want their voices to be heard.


What’s your favourite thing at Womens Health Matters?

My favourite thing at Womens Health Matters are the women themselves, everyone is interesting and you are always guaranteed a good conversation. I feel every workplace should be like Womens Health Matters!


What are three things you like to do?

I like to spend time with my children travelling and having adventures, or just chilling at home.

I love to drink tea

I like to hula hoop and cycle when the weather is nicer!


If you had a magic wand what would you do with it? 

I would make it so politicians could not tell a lie!


Meet Hannah – our Women’s Lives Leeds Complex Needs Worker

Hi, my name is Hannah, I ‘m employed by Leeds Women’s Aid incorporating HALT, and I work for the Women’s Lives Leeds Project as a Complex Needs Worker.

Women’s Lives Leeds is a partnership founded by 12 Women’s & Girls organisations in Leeds. It’s the first project in the partnership, funded by the Big Lottery and led by Leeds Women’s Aid on behalf of the partners.

I’m part of the Complex Needs Service part of the project.  This consists of 6 Complex Needs Workers who support women with various complex needs with each worker having a specialist focus such as domestic violence, women who have newly arrived to the country & BME women, girls & young women, mental health and sex workers.


My specialist area is supporting women during pregnancy and/or post removal – so after a child has been taken from a mothers care due to child protection concerns. Although employed by LWA, I am seconded to Womens Health Matters and I am based with them as they have other workers who also specialise in post removal support.


Post removals is an area of work that I feel fiercely passionate about.  These women are amongst some of the most vulnerable in our society and there is very limited, specialist, support currently available to them.
It’s really positive, proactive & quite exciting really that the Women’s Lives Leeds can be on the ball with this and dedicate a worker to support women at this time in their lives.


I used to work at a residential child protection & family assessment unit. During my time there, I personally observed, on multiple occasions, women having their children removed from their care and it was something I always found very traumatic to observe & it deeply affected me. For the women I support having their child or children taken from them is not the start of their traumatic journey, it’s usually an additional trauma to the deeply painful life experiences they’ve already endured such a childhood sexual abuse, domestic violence, homelessness, witnessing parents misusing drugs or alcohol etc.


Many of our supporters will be aware of some of the issues that vulnerable women experience, but general society is not often aware of the complexities that these women face. I believe that this it’s due to a lack of understanding that leads to a lack of services being available for them.


Often statutory services are left with no choice to remove children. These children who are removed become, what’s referred to as ‘Looked After’ – but the mothers who lose their children also need to be looked after. I would say please think why and how did this women come to live this way? Because having this understanding helps to evoke empathy.


The Complex Needs Service is very much led by the service users themselves – there’s no ‘one size fits all’. My work is so variable; from making MARAC referrals for high risk victims of Domestic Violence, to attending art therapy with women, supporting women at family court, advocating for them at meetings with social care, or maybe just doing something as simple as taking a walk through the local park with her.


Having someone, an allocated worker and service to help, support, guide, explain and listen to women throughout this very difficult process, is invaluable. Showing them unconditional positive regard.  The work being delivered by Women’s Lives Leeds is innovative, dynamic and powerful, I’m grateful to LWA for leading on this work and to WHM who continue to support and guide me in carrying this role out.

Reminder about our enquiry and information service.

Do you have any enquiries about your health and wellbeing?

Our service is confidential, and we can give you information or signpost you to our own or other local and national support services.  You can get in touch on 0113 2762851 or email

We also have a weekly information stall on Fridays in Leeds Market, so you can come and see our friendly faces in person, at the One You base, from 11am to 1pm!

*Please note – the stall is closed Friday 22nd & 29th December and 5th January.*