Exciting collaboration with The Tetley!

The Tetley and Women’s Health Matters are delivering a new project for young mums and their children, funded by the Building Connections Youth strand (Government and Co-op Foundation). The Tetley believes that everyone should have access to life changing experiences, make new friends with shared interests and take part in activities designed to raise aspirations. Their building however was an underused community resource and space for young mums and their children living in South Leeds.

“The activities we did I really really loved, my daughter got so much from it and it even made me look into Tiny Tetleys and the workshop she does at Leeds market”

The Tetley has regular free and accessible family friendly activity, but needed the funding to help to pilot breaking through the barriers to access and bring young mums together.  Young mums are often isolated in the community and The Tetley wanted to combat loneliness and offer a fun space for them and their children.




“Honestly we had the best time, the way Jenny Anne just fit right in with us, coped with our mood swings and really welcomes us was amazing!”

They approached Womens Health Matters to partner with then as we have a rich history of engaging with women and girls, 13 plus, working with them to shape and develop new services.   We co-worked to bring together a group of young mums to engage in informal messy play workshops for mums and under 5’s, initially community based, and then to attend The Tetley’s popular Tiny Tetley sessions at their fantastic South Leeds building.

“It’s been fantastic and having extra YUMs has really helped a lot of us to socialise a bit more and we are arranging to go in the school holidays on Thursday at the market (another of Jenny Anne’s sessions)”

As you can see the women have had a fab time getting creative with Jenny Anne, having a go at activities like messy time t-shirt making for children, creative clay and den making. The creativity was both therapeutic and fun and it gave the mums a chance to be hands on with the children giving them ideas for their own activities at home.

The mums have negotiated with the Tetley to go back, and run self directed sessions, using the room and resources kindly provided by the Tetley.  We wanted families who haven’t previously accessed The Tetley before to join in with their amazing family days, so to hear that the women are planning on going together again is great. We are looking forward to further developing our relationship with The Tetley…..watch this space!




Busy time for the Maternity Voices Partnership.

Lucy Potter who is the chair for the Maternity Voices Partnership (MVP) has been busy spreading the word of the positive partnerships between service users and the midwives at LGI and St James’s Hospitals. The MVP helps to gather feedback and implement this to help improve the experience of people who use maternity services. As part of the Maternity Transformation Plan the MVP sits inside the Local Maternity Plan for West Yorkshire and Harrogate which includes 8 MVPs chairs who meet every two months to help collaborate and share ideas including co producing the event which was held on Friday 22nd March in York.

Lucy, along with midwife Sarah Bennett, delivered their presentation about how the MVPs have helped to feed into the plan from a grassroots level by co-producing a booklet on Birthing Choices in the region. This presentation was brought to life by illustrator Tom Bailey.

Following this Sue Gibson Head of Midwifery at the Leeds Hospital Trust was invited down to the NHS Maternity and Neonatal Quality Improvement event held at the Queen Elizabeth II Centre on Monday 25 March 2019. This time Sue had been invited to present on the positive working Partnership with maternity service users and Lucy who helps represent service user Voices for Leeds had been invited too. Standing in a room packed with over 400 delegates Sue and Lucy talked about on the MVP’s work with the hospital regarding the monthly Walking the Patch where volunteers get to meet families and speak with staff. This is reflective of the recent national quality report where Leeds received an improved score compared with other national average in maternity settings.

Breathing Space share stories and learning.

Our Breathing Space project is funded by the department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport from The Tampon Tax Fund.  It aims to support women who have experienced domestic abuse using a trauma informed approach.  This means that the project pays special attention to the ways that abuse can affect our mental health and wellbeing.  We use group work to try and address the first stage of trauma recovery known as “stabilisation”.  We share ways to improve self-care as well as exploring the ways we can stay safer in relationships in future.

Women from the project hosted a fantastic event at Leeds City Museum on 22nd March.  They have been working hard over the past couple of months, alongside an external trainer, Alison Cater, to shape the event.  The project aimed to share the learning gained through the project since it started in November 2017 and engage with potential partners for future work, so there was a lot to achieve in one event but with the women’s input everything went really well!


The group members worked to develop a programme so the order of events and tone of the afternoon was set by the women.  They decided we needed a blend of activities and presentations so we had our trauma expert, Dzmitry Karpuk, and our evaluation team from Leeds Beckett University speaking about the work from their perspectives but we also had games to play, ice breakers and a cake break (which was obviously VERY important!).


We invited people from a range of professional backgrounds to attend including statutory organisations, voluntary sector and funding bodies. The afternoon went by in a flash and it was heartening to hear so much positive feedback about this unique piece of work and amazing to see our Breathing Space volunteers in action.  They were involved at every stage, from creating a running order and playlist to designing the invitation, baking for the raffle and speaking at the event.


With confidence and warmth they really brought home how vital it is for domestic abuse services to draw on the insights and experiences of those who have lived through abusive relationships and encourage the women themselves to drive the shape of services that will exist for others in the future.  When the women themselves spoke they captivated the audience.  One person who attended told us “you got the important messages across in a very powerful way and I’m sure everyone here won’t forget it”.  Another said “the survivors stories were extremely powerful and thought provoking – such inspirational women – I wish them every success!! “

Thanks so much to all who attended, Leeds City Museum for hosting us (and the fab catering), to our evaluators from Leeds Beckett University and Dzmitry for your presentations, Alison for working with us around this event and lastly to the wonderful women of Breathing Space for sharing your skills and stories with us. It was a fantastic day!



New project news!!

We are delighted to see the return of our work with women whose children are being cared for by someone else, this can be through adoption, foster care or any other kind of kinship or special guardianship order.  We’ve recently begun a social project to overcome loneliness, Rosebuds, and a parenting programme called Inside Out.

Rosebuds is a city wide social and peer support group for women living apart from their children, the venue is very kindly provided by The Tetley.  The group aims to help women overcome loneliness and isolation as well as increasing confidence and self esteem through coming together once a week. We chat, learn new coping techniques, share skills, stories and experiences and think about healthy relationships and friendships in a informal, friendly setting.  We support each other with the challenges we face such as the run up to Mother’s Day, children’s birthdays and other difficult anniversaries.   The project is funded by The Leeds Fund, Leeds Community Foundation, as part of strategic work across the city to help overcome loneliness and promote inclusion.  Find out more and how to refer here.

In addition we have secured three years funding from the Charles Hayward Foundation to allow us to develop the work we piloted through our previous Footsteps project, that some readers of our newsletter may remember. Inside Out is our new city wide parenting course which is being co-developed by and for women who have had children removed from their care.  The programme will be focussed on improving the women’s wellbeing and strengthening their understanding of safe, consistent and appropriate parenting. It aims to break the cycle of children removed into the care of someone else, as well as developing a better understanding of how women’s own past experiences may have impacted on their parenting.  The work is aimed at women who have experienced (or are still experiencing) domestic violence or exploitation, have already had one child removed into care and are at high risk of future children also being placed for adoption. Once again, we will be meeting weekly, thinking about what it means to be a good enough parent, and what we need to do to provide a safe and stable home for ourselves and our children, and the barriers that stand in the way of doing this. This project starts in April…..and will be hosted on our website and publicised soon.

We are so grateful to our funders and supporters for enabling us to start this incredibly important work, which will strengthen the support offered to women in Leeds who have been unable to parent their children.  If you or someone you know would benefit from either of the groups, please get in touch.