Spotlight on……Karen!

This ‘Spotlight On’ focuses on Karen who works on our LDVS project and The Key.  We asked her our usual questions so you can get to know her better!

What does your role involve?

I’ve been working at Women’s Health Matters since December 2017. My role involves working with women and young girls that have experienced domestic abuse.

What’s your favourite thing about WHM?

My favourite things about WHM are the women that I work with, I am always in awe at their strength and resolve and feel that it’s a real privilege to be part of their journey. My other favourite thing is the staff team, everybody is fab and really supportive.

What are 3 things you enjoy doing?

Out of work I really enjoy socialising (a lot!!!!) and love spending time with my amazing family.

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

Ooh big question, there’s lots I could do, give myself millions (I’d obviously share), travel around the world (flick of the wand and I’m there). I think I would make mean people good!

Shiny new Breathing Space leaflet!

Recently the woman who attend our Breathing Space group worked with artists to create a leaflet for the project to encourage those new women who may be scared or nervous of starting the group. Everyone worked really hard to make sure we got the right ‘feel’ across and we’re really proud of the result! Their quotes and artwork speak for themselves.

Thanks so much to Lizzie Coombes for the art workshops, photography and for producing the final leaflet with the design expertise of Katy Rogers. Our funders from the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (Tampon Tax Fund) were delighted to see what we’ve been working on.

You can download the leaflet here.

Thanks to our fabulous supporters!

We’ve had various donations over the last few months, you can stay updated on these if you follow us on Twitter, we thought it was about time we gave our supporters a real shout out in a blog post!


Lots of you may have heard of period poverty – where for lots of different reasons girls and women can’t afford to buy sanitary products like tampons and sanitary pads.  If you haven’t heard about it, you can read more about it here . Although this has been in the news a lot more, it hasn’t been something new to us, with some of the women we work with telling us for a long time that they just can’t afford to buy sanitary items.  One of the incredible things we’ve seen is small groups coming together to fundraise so that people who need sanitary items can have them.  Such a small thing makes such a huge difference.


Over the last few months we’ve had three separate incredible groups give us donations of items or cash so that we can give these much-needed products to the girls and women we work with.


Lovely Rhea from Leeds Beckett Student Union dropped their incredible donation off with our Leeanne and Karen.

We then had a financial donation from Leeds RAG via their PADS campaign. PADS (Power Action Dignity Support) was set up specifically to support a number of women’s charities in Leeds around this issue.  You can find out more about the campaign here.

Rosie and her colleagues from Leeds University Union made the final fantastic drop off with our Director Ruth.  We can’t thank you all enough for your support, so many girls and women will benefit from your kindness and tenacity!


Our friends from the White Rose Shopping Centre have continued to support us with their wonderful donations for the women we work with, from clothing to toys, from toiletries to items for babies and children.  We need to say a special thank you to Debra who has always supported us and been passionate about our work.


Lastly we were amazed by the donation from Janine who had found out about our work from her neighbour.  Janine dropped off the most amazing massive donation including clothes and toys (plus an amazing Hobby Horse that we’re having to stop certain team members having a go on!).  So many women and their families will benefit from this kind support and we’re hugely grateful.


You’re all wonderful and we thank you so much!!


Spotlight on our Trustees!

Those of you who have read our blog or newsletter before will know that we try to have a ‘spotlight on’ piece that helps you get to know our team.  This time, we’ve turned the spotlight onto our trustees!!

Every charity has a governing body that takes overall responsibility for its work.  Our Trustee Board are responsible for directing how WHM is governed and run, making sure we’re meeting all of our legal requirements and are doing what we are supposed to do.  Our board work together to support us, they all bring different expertise and skills and are hugely passionate about what we do.  It’s a really important role but it’s a voluntary one, so we are extremely grateful to the six wonderful women who sit on our Board. Let’s meet some of them!

Alison Cater, Chair 

Why did you become a Trustee for Womens Health Matters?

I worked on the Include project for about 3 years and loved the organisation.  As soon as I moved on I was keen to get back involved.  I have been Chair for a few years now and am really proud of the organisation as a whole. In addition to helping WHM continue to support women across Leeds I get so much out of being involved.  As a board we sometimes have to make very difficult decisions and the way we do this boosts my confidence in other areas of my life.

What is your favourite thing about Womens Health Matters?

The way that it walks the walk! Our values and commitment are evident throughout everything we do.  And seeing the impact we have.

What do you do outside of Womens Health Matters? 

I write and deliver training about working with families and children for a range of professionals and organisations.  I do some of this on a self-employed basis and some for Leeds City Council.  I am experienced in safeguarding and lead on this for WHM.  I am also qualified in Public Health and have experience of mapping need, synthesizing the evidence base and evaluating and commissioning services.

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

I am very keen on Amie’s answer (see below) and would also like to see more kindness and curiosity in the world.


Amie Tolson, Trustee

Why did you become a Trustee for Womens Health Matters?

Wow, it’s hard to remember after so long! I don’t work due to health problems and wanted a way of giving back to the community. A friend was on the board and kept telling me how great the organisation is, and about all the wonderful work WHM does.  Eventually she wore me down and I joined the board and haven’t looked back, even though it has been challenging at times.

What is your favourite thing about Womens Health Matters?

The fact that the focus is entirely on the women we work with and help, they’re central to the ethos of the organisation. The staff are so enthusiastic about their work, and knowing we’re making a real difference to women who perhaps don’t have anyone else who really cares about them makes all the hard work worthwhile. Anyone who’s been to an AGM will have had tears in their eyes at some point, which is testament to the fantastic relationship between all the women involved in WHM – staff, volunteers, and the women themselves.

What do you do outside of Womens Health Matters? 

As I said before, I’m unable to work. I’ve had a really rough couple of years personally and I’m working really hard to overcome various challenges. I’ve been a service user of several charities similar to WHM, and feel that I bring that perspective to the board. I’ve just joined the committee of a community group, Wheels4Fun, a physiotherapist led cycling group for people with physical disabilities.

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

I’d make chocolate and cake calorie free. Or world peace. It’s a tough choice…


Emma Dickens, Trustee

Why did you become a Trustee for Womens Health Matters?

I was approached by a colleague who I worked with in the NHS. She knew that I had previously worked in the charity sector and might be interested in doing something to support a great local charity. So I met the then trustees and signed up on the spot!  It gives me a way to use my skills for a local cause I hugely value.

What is your favourite thing about Womens Health Matters?

The passion of the women that work for the charity, and the difference they make to the lives of women in Leeds.

What do you do outside of Womens Health Matters? 

I am a mum of a 9 year old daughter, and work as Head of Communications and Engagement for Locala Community Partnerships CIC.  Locala is a not for profit social enterprise, providing NHS community healthcare service across Kirklees, Calderdale and Bradford.  My role involves a range of skills that I am able to utilise for Womens Health Matters, as I lead on work that includes: internal and external communications, membership development, community and patient engagement, patient experience and volunteering. I work closely with, and report directly to, the Board of Directors, which is also valuable experience.

Prior to this and my previous NHS role as Membership and Involvement Manager at Leeds Community Healthcare NHS Trust, I was Head of Fundraising for Sheffield Hospitals Charity.

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

I asked my daughter for inspiration and she said she would make everyone happy. I am not sure I can beat that, although I think I would make it happy, empathetic and kind.  And perhaps treat myself to a few more hours in each day.