Just in time to celebrate our work!

A week before the Corona virus starting keeping us all apart, we brought almost a hundred women and girls together!  Each year we have a big celebration of our work, the women and girls who attend all of our projects come along, we invite funders and other professionals that we work alongside from across the city.  It’s always an emotional, inspirational and fun event, and this year was no different.

                                       

 

The event took place at the Leeds City Museum who were kind enough to host us.  There was a big display of bunting that the women from each of our groups had been working on in their sessions.  We started off hearing from Rachel our Chief Exec with a bit of an overview of our year.  She told everyone about the projects that were coming to an end, but also about exciting new pieces of work like Your Space, our partnership project with Touchstone and Holbeck Together.  We than had a fantastic performance from incredible Leeds poet Khadijah Ibrahim who inspired and entertained us all.

 

Next Lucy introduced the video Breathing Space have made which shows women from the group giving tips to professionals on how to support people who have experienced trauma, which included being aware of triggers, not judging and thinking about eye contact.  One of the things people always tell us they love about our celebrations is hearing Rainbow Hearts sing, this was next up and as usual, it was incredible.  During the performance Sally read out messages from some of the women about what coming to Rainbow Hearts has meant to them.

 

                                      

 

 

Sarah followed this with an introduction to the animations that some girls and young women from The Key have worked on with Children & Families Services.  The young women were asked what it was like growing up as a girl in Leeds and they talked about whatever was important to them.  We watched the animations on healthy relationships, mental health and abuse.

 

 

Finally, and most importantly, we heard from women and girls from across our projects about their stories and what coming to their group has meant to them.  There are always some tears around the room during this part of our celebration, but a lot of uplifting messages too, and it often means a lot to the women and girls to have their voices heard.

“Coming to these groups helped me come to terms with what had happened in my past wasn’t my fault. Being around women who were like me helped build my confidence and self-esteem.”

“My mental health has improved a lot…I feel a lot safer and a lot less lonely. I don’t make friends at my group, I make family and it just keeps growing.”

“Today I stand alone this strong because I am no longer a victim, but a survivor. I survived what I went through to live & protect my children, that along takes strength & courage like no other. I’m at the stage in my journey where I realise I will never fully recover from what I went through, because sustained trauma affects every aspect of a person’s life, whether it be living with the aftermath with Social Care, or battling through depression & suicidal thoughts. But I can and I will heal because of the determination I have in me to show my children it’s never ok to be alone and fighting silent battles.”

“Group has made my confidence grow and improved my mental health. I have overcome most of my fears and I can now see a change in myself, so thank you for helping me be a better persona & believe in myself when no-one else did.”

“I came into this project feeling desperate for somebody to speak to & listen to me, not just judge me for being a ‘stroppy teenager’. (Workers) made me the woman I am today and I am grateful for that, so thank you.”

 

                                        

 

At this point, we all needed a little break, so it was time for lunch and for the relaxing part of the day to begin!  We had a couple of henna designers, a fantastic photo booth from Getaway Girls that was VERY popular and creative types could have a go at making memory boxes with The Key’s Moving on Group and paint a section of a community canvas with Amareen from Your Space.  We were so very thankful to the staff and students from Leeds City College’s hair and beauty department, who offered hand massages, braiding and ‘hair up’ styling for anyone who fancied a bit of pampering.  Finally, after having some gorgeous cake baked by our very own Bridget, it was time to head home.

The celebration is always a highlight of our year – looking around the room at such incredible women and girls, seeing them face their fears and tell their stories, then being able to just spend some time enjoying themselves together.  Massive thanks to everyone who made the event happen, particularly Ranstad for the crèche, Leeds City Museum for the venue and Leeds City College for the pampering.  Lastly, as always thanks to the girls and women from our projects who came along, opened up and showed what Women’s Health Matters is all about – women supporting women.  Same time next year?

                                     

YUMs collaborate with The Tetley

You may remember that last year our project for young mums from South Leeds ‘YUMs’ worked together with The Tetley.  The women and children attended some fab sessions with them, with a focus on creative play. Sessions included things like den making, hand moulding and t-shirt printing.

The partnership aimed to build connections between The Tetley and families in the local area and it did just that, with the women returning to run their own sessions.

A video about this partnership has now been released, featuring our very own Tayba and the lovely YUMs women.

 

Check it out here –

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!

 

 

 

Spotlight on….. YUMs!

YUMs is a fortnightly friendship, social and support group for mums aged 25 and under living in LS10 and LS11.  It’s a safe, fun and lively space where we cover different topics each session. Recently we’ve had One YOU come in to talk about healthy eating and the services they provide; screening awareness by the NHS and also SARSVL (Support After Rape and Sexual Violence Leeds) covering sessions on consent and how to prevent sexual assault.  During the SARSVL session the group really enjoyed the Tea Consent clip with its powerful message.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The sessions we have coming up include things like pottery painting and First Aid.  We usually meet fortnightly on a Monday 12pm-2pm in Middleton unless otherwise stated in the group and have a closed Facebook page where the  mums continue to support each other.  There is a free Crèche and we provide free transport and lunch.

We currently have space for new group members so if you’re interested or know a mum who’s under 25 living in LS10/11 that would like to join us,  please get in touch!