Is It OK To…?

 

 

Our guest blog is from Dr Caroline Marlow of L&M Consulting Ltd.  A Chartered Psychologist,she specialises in wellbeing and performance psychology. Caroline has some wise words about caring for ourselvesduring the covid-19 lockdown.

 

Is It OK to …

 

Feel Anxious, Stressed, Out of Control? When life takes a bad turn or is different to what we know, expect or hope, feelings like these are normal. Further, life is about experiencing all emotions in both good times and bad; they make us stronger and better able to engage with others and our world. So yes, it is OK to experience negative feelings. But when you are ready, you should do what you can to address them. Also, if negative feelings continuefor a long time or have a severeand immediate impact on your mental health you should seek informal or professional support as appropriate.

 

Feel Positive? Positive emotions are good for our psychological wellbeing and are socially contagious. So yes, you can feel positive and you should not feel guilty for feeling it. Use your positivity sensitively and wisely with others, and use it to optimise your now and future.

 

Grieve? There are many things that can lead us to experience grief. Alas, it could be the loss of someone special to us,or the loss of your job, goals or dreams. Grieving is a natural process that enables us to process information in a way that is healthy and best allows us to move forward appropriately into the future. So yes, it is OK to grieve.  Expect to feel different emotions, e.g., denial, anger, sad, in control, positive, etc., and expect them to change throughout the day and over time. Again, seek support if the feelings are severe or long-term.

 

Feel Lucky? Whatever the situation, there is always something to feel grateful for. Whether it be the small things, e.g., opening the curtains to a sunny day or hearing your child laugh, or the large things, gratitude is a key dimension of our psychological wellbeing. So yes, cherish and reinforce it.

 

Ask for Help? Whether it is for a quick bit of advice, an introduction, or professional legal, financial or mental health support, yes, ask. You may well typically be self-sufficient, know what to do, and be able to cope, but we all need help sometimes. Remember, people like to help, it gives them wellbeing benefits.

 

Connect? We are social beings who thrive when we feel valued, supported and part of a reciprocating community. People therefore connect to both give and receive. So yes,connect – especially if you are feeling isolated and lonely. Connect with those you know well and those you don’t, but be respectful of any demands you place on them and appreciate any replies. Remember connecting can be quick – telling someone that you are thinking of them, as well as long- for a proper catch up.

 

Disconnect? The news, social media and emails can come into our lives too easily. With time on your hands, the feeling that you should be ‘in the know’, or the need to look for that opportunity, it is easy to become overwhelmed with information.So yes, consider how often and when it is most appropriate for you to look. Be aware of how you are feeling, why you are engaging, and what you are likely to come across; this will enable you to properly decide whether connecting or disconnecting is best for you at that moment.

 

Laugh and Celebrate? Normal life should go on, and whilst scientific support for laughter may be limited by current convention, laughter as medicine has a long social history. Yes, be respectful of others, but the good times recharge us and help us connect positively with others. Celebrate events that you would normally celebrateand enjoy opportunities to laugh and smile.

 

Say “Not Right Now”? You normally give everything, so yes, it is OK for you to say “No.” Follow thiswith an explanation as to why it is important for you and them that you have time and space right now.  If you are able to help with the request, set their expectations by giving a realistic timeframe and probable level of support. Thereafter, keep them up to date with any changes. Very typically people understand.

 

Pause… Stop… Properly Stop…? Yes, for 30 seconds, for an afternoon, for however long you need. Breath…Breath again… Notice your environment, how you feel.Do what you need to do to adjust. Take perspective. If it helps, complete fuller reflections on; how you are doing, what you want in the future, and how to best make it happen.

 

Most of All …It Is OK That Sometimes You Need To Take Care of Yourself. Whether we are alone or with others, our lives are entwined with others. Our natural tendency is often to support others and not to think of ourselves, but sometimes we need to do what is best for us if we are to cope and move forward. This brings benefit both for ourselves and others in the near and more distant future.

The power of the menopause

Our guest blogger is Trustee and coach Katie Day of RDP International Ltd.  Her own experiences of the menopause helped shape her inspiring delivery of uniquely designed workshops for women and companies on the menopause.

You may find yourself reacting to the above title. Menopause and power are rarely two words that women automatically put together in the same sentence!

However, with the right support and information, it can be one of the most potent times of our lives. The majority of women will reach menopause around 50 – 52. This is also the time most of us with come into our real strength in our careers and our personal lives.

Once we find how to navigate this life transition and important ‘rite of passage’ it allows us to truly get in touch with our values, passions and vision. We are likely to have far less invested in the opinions of others when we reach our 50s, and this frees us up to live our lives with purpose and clarity.

I can remember when this all kicked in for me I mentally retrieved the painting other people had painted for me when I was born, depicting my life. I examined the scene, decided which parts, if any, I wanted to keep and then repainted the picture.

At the age of 60 I am just getting going! I see at least another three, possibly four, decades in front of me that are full of adventures, excitement and possibility. The only person who will get in my way is me, and I don’t intend to do that.

This life transition presents a brilliant opportunity to reassess, re-evaluate, redefine and, if desired, re-invent. It is when we start to live our life congruently, in harmony with our meaning and purpose. It offers us an opportunity tosupport other women coming up behind us, and tap into our wisdom and experience.

If we work we offer our employers, even if our employer is ourselves(!) a woman who is strong, independent, experienced, confident, wise and a real asset. We are not invisible. We are very visible, if we choose to be, and for the right reasons. Our grounded wisdom represents the foundations upon which companies, teams and people can grow. We provide the strong roots that support everyone around us, guiding the young saplings and encouraging them to grow and flourish.

Give yourself permission to acknowledge your greatness and your magnificence. Accept willingly your power and potency. Be comfortable accepting this rite of passage and be clear in your communication that you are now offering even more to those around you.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it! Get yourself a notebook and write at the top of the page:

If I were my close friend, the ten top things I would value about my friendship and me would be:

And then complete the list, also capturing the evidence to show how good you are at each thing you write down.

Finish by writing yourself a personal statement. This is when you get full permission, and encouragement, to really step into your greatness, without embarrassment or censure. Start the statement with the words ‘I am …’ then complete, using as much space as you need.

The reason you start with ‘I am …’ is that you are bringing everything you write into the present tense and telling yourself you are already there, already this person and already living what you write. Then breathe in the words and really own them. Accept your brilliance as a peri- or post-menopausal woman and live it!

 

Women in Lockdown: stories by and about women during Covid-19

We are living through momentous times, historic times.  We know from our Heritage funded project that when historians look back, the lives of ‘ordinary’ women are often forgotten over time; they become invisible.

We believe that the stories by and about women should not be ignored again. We want all of you to help us do that by telling us your lockdown story so future generations will hear the voices of ordinary people.

There will be a huge range of experiences.  That of key workers for example will be very different from those who are ‘shielded’ and those who live on their own will be different to those with families.  We want to hear from all of you.

For the women, as you’ve been living through lockdown what has changed and what has remained stable?  We all have our fears and anxieties which we can acknowledge and share but there’s also positives to be discovered.  Here’s some ideas.

What are the challenges you’ve faced and how have you overcome them?

Who are the people that have helped you cope and how?

What skills and talents have you discovered that you never knew you had?

What have you learnt about yourself and those around you?

What are your hopes, dreams for the post-covid-19 world we will be all entering and what do you need to achieve your dreams for your future?

 

For the men, what have you learnt about the women in your lives?

What has amazed you?

How have women helped you face your challenges?

What do you know now that you didn’t before, or appreciate, about women’s place in society and in the workplace?

 

This is social history in action. 

 

WayfinderWoman is all about empowering women to be the best they can be, to recognise their achievements, celebrate their strengths so they are not socially excluded. By recording our stories and, for those who know us, record their stories about us, we can ensure that women’s experiences and voices will still be heard in the years to come.

You can tell us your stories in many ways.  You can write to us and let your creative juices flow but you don’t need to be a wordsmith: a page, a short diary or a few bullet points would be equally fine if that tells your story as you want it told.  Or perhaps a short video or audio recorded on your phone.

We’ve given you some ideas above in case you need a starter for ten but again, it’s your story so if you want to tell us about other things then do.  There’s other guidelines in the FAQ section below.

Email them to us at info@wayfinderwoman.com before 15 June, the earlier the better! (see below) and if you have any questions (read the FAQs first) or want extra help in putting something together get in touch.  We know each and every one of the stories will be unique and we are so excited to hear from you all.

 

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. Can I remain anonymous?

A. Yes. Or you can be referred to by your first name or a pseudonym.  But we’d need to have your real name and contact details in case we have any questions, or to keep you up-to-date with how the project is going.  We won’t spam you though – and importantly we won’t share your details with anyone else.

Q. How long should it be?

A.  If you’re writing then it can be as short as you like: bullet points or a paragraph.  A page of A4 is about 500 words and we suggest a maximum of two-sides of A4 if you’re particularly creative, or have a lot to say, or want to do a short diary piece.  Most news items are only 2 or 3 minutes so for a video or audio we’re suggesting that a maximum of 3 minutes would be enough.

Q. My English isn’t very good. Can I still do it?

A. Yes!  It doesn’t matter if your spelling, grammar or punctuation is poor, if you are dyslexic or English is not your first language.  We want to hear from everyone.   And if you’re really worried about how it looks, we can help you with that.

Q. I have a disability which means I can’t write. Can I still do it?

A. Yes. You can either do a video or audio, or you can ask a member of your family or a close friend to write or record something on your behalf.  Please let us know that someone else is doing this for you.  And give us their name – it’s good to thank the person who is doing this for you.

Q. I don’t want my face on a video, can I still do something?

A. Yes.  If you don’t want to write instead, you can record yourself as audio only.

Q. Can what I do include photos or pictures?

A. Yes, but please let us know in advance. We will need to find the best way for you to get them to us.

Q. Can only women contribute?

A. No! We want to hear from everyone.  It must be a story about women however, so if that’s not you, it should be about a woman you know.

Q. Is there an age limit?

A.  No.  We support women of working age so there’s no upper age limit.  If you are a young girl (under the age of 16) then we will need the permission of your parents/guardian for you to contribute.  Email us if that’s the case.

Q. Do we  have to live locally to you?

A.  No.  We want this to go as far and as wide as it wants to go.  The more stories we collect the more valuable a resource it will become for future generations.

Q. How should we send things to you?

A. All written contributions can be emailed to us at info@wayfinderwoman.com.  Please include your name and telephone number, even if you want to remain anonymous.

If you are sending a video or audio recording please ensure it is an MPV4 and if you have trouble sending it to us get in touch and we’ll help you with the technical ‘stuff’.

Q. When do you want these sent to you?

A. The earlier the better! We have a closing date of 15 June but if you’ve picked this up late and still want to do it please send it to us.  We’ll endeavour to get it collated with the others.

Q. What will you be doing with all the stories?

A. We are hoping that we can put contributions onto a dedicated page on our website. We want to put everything into a book and also make a film if possible from any videos that are sent.  We will be asking you permission to do any of this – another reason why we need your contact details.

Q. Can I have a copy of whatever you produce?

A. We’re hoping to be able to raise enough money through fundraising so that everyone who has contributed can get a free copy of whatever we do. Otherwise we may be making a small charge to cover production costs of anything that gets published and if there’s any profit it will go direct to the charity.

Q. What will you do with any profits?

A. All of the support, events and activities that we run either through our drop-in advice ‘hub’ or our professionally run workshops are free.  We are a volunteer run organisation and that means any profits will help us to continue providing our free support.

Living in lock down

Our guest blog this week comes from Tania Long, one of our volunteers who also runs FantaSea Art with a Heart As someone with an underlying medical condition she started to self-isolate before the country went into lock-down.  Here’s how she’s been occupying her time and you might find inspiration from her story.

Hi! I’ve been having to self-isolate since March 23rd before the lock down. I’m one of those at home for 12 weeks (due to asthma.)

I go for a daily walk round the back lanes and quiet streets. Taking photos some days, little details, flowers, textures I’ve spotted. I’m really getting to know the local streets well now and spotting some amazing houses on my solitary walks.

 

Some days I have been doing ‘frottage’ art on wood grains I come across and started working into those with black ink.  It’s amazing what images have started appearing! It’s become a new project for a story book as more characters appear.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Also, I’ve been having fun making a fishing game out of dry paper mâché and got back into my Woodland Folk project; one of many creative projects that had been put on the back burner due to business with other things.

 

 

 

Structure is important

I find it helps to have some kind of structure to the day.

I journal in the morning (after all it’s an historical event!) Feed Luna (my black fluffy cat). Have breakfast.  Do some chores or online work. Or work on creative projects till lunch which is usually a sandwich. After that I will go for a daily walk;20 minutes to an hour.  I take my boots off in the hall as soon as I get in, and coat and hat and gloves if I’ve needed them, wash my hands (of course!) Then I have a 30 minute rest and drink. Do more creative work, or some reading or writing.

I’m trying to limit social media as it’s so negative. I have chill out time in the evening with dvd films or music, and some catch up on Facebook if I haven’t been online the day before. I’m continuing to do and to facilitate WayfinderWoman’s Creative Joy & Artists Way course virtually, sending out task sheets and encouragement on a Friday evening. We are on week 5 at the moment, ‘Recovering a Sense of Possibility’.

The highs and lows

The things I miss most? Meeting friends for a chat in a cafe, hugs, human company, being able to buy my own food shopping, visiting the beach.

ALSO! There are blessings in this time. Enjoy this time. A time to slow down and reflect on your life.

The air is so much cleaner. It’s quieter.  Listen to the birds they are loving it! The Earth is healing. The ozone layer is healing.

The new future

Let’s not go back to ‘normal’ when this is over but come out of it with a new perspective of what is really valuable in our lives and a new sense of community.

I feel that the Earth has sent us this virus, because WE as humans have been acting as a virus on the Earth, it’s a message for us to STOP mindlessly consuming the planet.

Wishing everyone well, stay safe.  Tania

Find your voice with WayfinderWoman

The following article was written by one of our WayfinderWoman volunteers, Beth Neale. Beth is writing a regular business column for the Eastbourne Voice.

Do you think we do enough to prepare girls for life in the workplace? This is the question we ask as April 23rd marks the annual international ‘Bring our Daughters and Sons to Work Day’ which is very popular in the United States. Here in the UK it’s only celebrated by a handful of organisations, but bringing daughters to work used to be common practice. Talking to the WayfinderWoman team, many felt this was an important part of their childhood. They were able to experience the real world of work at an early age, which made for an easier transition into their first jobs.

But I do wonder if bringing your daughter to work days are the best way to immerse girls into the workplace? Surely it would be better for them to try a variety of workplaces and jobs, regardless of what their parents might do? This way they can start to figure out options for further education and beyond, without any gender, or class barriers. As women are still fighting for equality in many sectors, programs that can introduce girls to new opportunities are vital.

One such initiative is ‘The Tech She Can Charter’ which is focused on inspiring and educating girls about occupations in the Tech world. In the research they conducted they found that boys were twice as likely to be suggested a career in technology than girls. They are working on changing this now and creating a lasting increase in girls and women entering the field of technology. This is so important, as the field of technology is constantly growing and evolving, this prepares the girls of today for the jobs of the future.

Here at WayfinderWoman we are passionate about helping women to excel in whatever job they want to pursue. That’s why we have a workshop on how to build your CV, and improve your Interview Skills on the 2nd May, so that you can ace that job application!

Join our mailing list or like us on facebook @wayfinderwoman to be the first to know about our other exciting projects.

What woman’s issue would you like us to cover next? Email ideas to: info@wayfinderwoman.com

A New Start for a New Year

Our blog is from the inspirational Nelly Khawaja.  If you’re thinking about a fresh start for 2020 here’s a story that will give you heart that, regardless of the obstacles along the way, you too can achieve.

On the 26th November 2019, I was called to the Bar of England and Wales by the Honourable Society of Lincolns Inn. During the ceremony, I gazed in space and embraced my surrounding. I took a moment to myself and thought about my journey.

I emigrated from Norway aged 9 without any prior knowledge of the English language. To avoid the extensive details, I was mistreated and I experienced a distressing upbringing by the hands of my father. As a witness, I felt lost in a system where the legal professionals were unrelatable and at times, condescending. I really thought there was no escape, I convinced myself ‘this is my life now, and it will never end’.

I turned to education and started finding peace in studying. I told myself I will study until I can be that voice for the most vulnerable members of our society! Just reading alone made me feel stronger. It’s true what they say ‘knowledge is power’.

I had many obstacles along the way, and one of the main ones was being questionable of my own abilities. I didn’t achieve the required grades to get into college. I had to do BTEC’s and NVQ’s. My journey to become a barrister started to feel impossible. I started to self-pity and blaming everything around me. That didn’t get me far. As much as I wanted someone to feel sorry for me and help me escape, no one was able to do that except me!

Despite the adversity, I did a year’s access course to get into University. I then completed my three years Law with Criminology degree and graduated in 2018.

Things were starting to look up and life started feeling meaningful. I was getting more independent and I had a better understanding of my rights. Being able to discover that in itself made me feel so much happier! I felt like no one could touch me now!

So, here I am today, having been called to the Bar. It truly is my biggest achievement to date.

I feel the importance to encourage people to stop thinking you can’t do something because of your past. Coming from a broken family or a deprived background doesn’t make you any less capable! Find your determination in the negative things that happen in your life, never allow yourself to relive it!

 

A Pregnant Pause

We’ve teamed up with Eastbourne CAB to help raise awareness of women’s workplace rights when pregnant.  Here’s some insights from  Karen Costello-McFeat, who was heavily involved in researching the issue.

Amid all the preparations and excitement of an anticipated birth, it is easy to forget to take a little time out to ensure that all is in order for your maternity leave and subsequent return to work.

At Citizens Advice, we see the consequences of this omission. We have had cases where clients have been treated prejudicially, lost hours of work and even been dismissed or asked to resign.

Due to the frequency of these cases, we decided to create a survey to get a better sense of what is happening in the workplace. The results were disappointing. Almost half felt that they had been treated unfairly or faced discrimination; an equal number felt that their employers didn’t follow guidelines on health or offer suitable work alternatives and a staggering number had not been given adequate information about their maternity rights.

Those fortunate enough to work in larger organisations or those with good HR teams were generally fine; however, those working for small businesses, on temporary or zero-hour contracts were the most vulnerable.

But it should not matter who you work for to ensure that you receive the help you need. Here, knowledge is going to be the best way to protect your rights. And the good news is that it is readily and freely available to everyone.

The best place to start is the GOV.UK site (put maternity in the search box). Here you will find everything you could possibly want to know about your rights and responsibilities. You can guide your employer to the site also if he/she seems a little bewildered by all the legislation.

They will no doubt be delighted to hear that they can reclaim 92% of your Statutory Maternity Pay and up to 103% if they qualify as a small business. (Search: Statutory Maternity Pay and the Small Employers’ Relief Fund.) If you are self-employed or do not qualify for SMP, you may be entitled to Maternity Allowance instead.

 

We would also recommend that you get your employer’s name and a written contract or statement of terms and particulars before you go on maternity leave. (It’s best to put any requests for these in writing, ideally via email). This way, should you feel that legal action is required at a later date, you will have all the information you need.

Whatever happens, you need not feel alone. There is excellent advice available at www.maternityaction.org.uk and of course, from your local Citizens Advice.

Hopefully, you won’t need us, and can instead focus on keeping well at work and looking forward to and enjoying the new arrival. All the best!

Stepmums in the workplace

Our latest blog is from Magriet Steyn who is a Stepfamily Dynamics Coach. Every stepfamily is unique but the challenges facing working stepparents are very common.  Magriet takes us through tools and techniques that can be used to improve the situation.

 

 

We can all agree that being a working mum is tough; juggling childcare and household responsibilities while maintaining a professional career can take its toll.

Among us working mums, however, are stepmums who carry much of the same responsibilities, without any of the authority or recognition. Since becoming a stepmum in 2009, I found that stepfamily life added another layer of complexity to an already challenging family dynamic. Not only at home, but also in the workplace.

For working stepmums, some of these challenges include stress and anxiety that are part and parcel of stepfamily life, which can have a negative impact on work-life balance and professional performance.

Writing this article, I was able to draw on my own experiences as a working mum and stepmum.I also asked a group of 150 stepmums and found these three most prevalent challenges.

Challenge #1 – Avoiding time at home with your stepkids

Many stepmums end up avoiding time at home when their stepkids are there to avoid having to deal with potential conflict like disruptive behaviour or sibling rivalry. When my stepkids were living with us full time, I worked longer hours. However, due to the stress at home, I was unproductive and couldn’t fully focus on my work.

What you can do about it

It’s essential to communicate with your partner, in a non-confrontational manner,about your difficulties.   Agree how you will both deal with challenging behaviour, household rules and consequences so you don’t take these anxieties into work.

Schedule time for yourself doing the things you love. See it as re-filling your tank rather than avoiding your stepkids.  It puts you back in control, which will have a knock-on effect on your mental attitude and productivity at work.

Challenge #2 – Dealing with harassment and abuse from the ex

I was shocked but not surprised by the number of stepmums who reported that they’ve experienced harassment and abuse from their partner’s ex in the workplace.

What you can do about it

Speaking with your manager or confiding in a colleague can help reduce the pressure of dealing with it on your own while at work. Keep a record of all abusive communication;block their phone number during working hours if you can. If your partner shares emails or text messages from their ex with you while you’re at work, let them know that for you to be supportive, you don’t need to know the nitty gritty of what is being said.

Challenge #3 – Stress and anxiety

Stepmothers are very prone to stress and anxiety; differences in parenting styles and values, contact schedules, finances, ex-spouses and external factors outside of their control all contribute to feelings of isolation, helplessness and frustration. Symptoms of anxiety can range from negative thought patterns and excessive worrying, panic, restlessness, irritability and mood swings.

What you can do about it

It is essential to have a support network in place, someone who can lend a sympathetic ear. However, a lot of stepmums say they have nobody they can talk towho can relate to what they are experiencing. There was a period where I was so absorbed with what was going on in our stepfamily, it was all I talked about. I’m sure people at work were avoiding me and they lost interest in the ongoing saga of my stepfamily life! It was all-consuming.

Seeing a Life Coach and a Hypnotherapist helped me put things in perspective. Other things you can try to reduce your stress and anxiety levels are acupuncture, yoga, reflexology, meditation or activities such as kick boxing or body combat.

 

If you are a stepmum who is experiencing any of the above and it’s impacting your work life balance, please know that you are not alone. You are a wonder woman, and you very much deserve to be happy!

Retirement doesn’t mean retiring

Our guest blogger is Caroline Coxon from Quirkyworks .  When 60, 65 or 67 starts looming into your horizon it can feel as though you’re entering the world of retirement, paid work is coming to an end.  But that’s not the end as Caroline tells us.

I can’t do everything, but I can do something

Making a difference – pathway to empowerment

Go on any social media platform and there are always, everywhere, those uplifting quotes that might inspire you – or might make you reach for the sick bucket because they’re so tearfully sentimental. At risk of causing an instant bout of nausea, here’s one that’s important to me:

“I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. And I will not let what I cannot do interfere with what I can do.” 

It was written in the late 19th century – not by a woman – but by an American author, historian and Unitarian clergyman, called Edward Everett Hale. Fine words indeed.

A little about me first, to put all this into context. I’m 63 and I recently retired so I found myself with considerably more time on my hands. At first, I really enjoyed waking up every morning thinking that, beyond the household chores and looking after the animals, I had nothing that I had to do. After a while, that thrill wore off and I began to feel lethargic and unmotivated, which isn’t like me at all. What to do? This. Take some actions that would make a difference in the world.

Just to be clear, this blog doesn’t set out to enrol you the causes I care about. Everyone has different things that they’re concerned about and how good is that? Life wouldn’t work too well if everybody cared about the same thing.

As for me, for several years I’ve been involved with a grassroots organisation which supports refugees stuck in Northern France with no safe passage to the UK even if, in many cases, international law says they’re entitled to have their claims for asylum heard.

This found me, on a bitterly cold New Year’s Day, plunging into the sea at Brighton to raise money for and awareness of so many people, including young children, who had drowned attempting to cross the Mediterranean of the English Channel to seek sanctuary in another country. It’s also found me collecting clothes and supplies to send out to the camps there, to provide a little comfort for some desperate people.

Until February, all my work for had been carried out in the UK. Going over to France to volunteer wasn’t something that I thought of particularly, but more and more, I wanted to see for myself what the situation was so I could report it first-hand.

Believe me, it was at the same time the most uplifting and the most distressing thing I’ve ever done. I worked with the Refugee Community Kitchen for three days. There, not only are 1200 meals a day provided for people scattered in small enclaves around the area, but clothes, tents, sleeping bags and other supplies are distributed. And distributed again, because the French national police have been tasked with creating a ‘hostile environment’ for them, so their tents are slashed, they are doused with freezing water or tear gas, and their warm clothes and shoes are confiscated. Night after night.

I can tell you it was a tough environment, even as a volunteer – and I was lucky enough to be able to retreat to the comfort of a little hotel every night and have a glass of wine and a satisfying meal.

The point is, the experience left me empowered. I was working amongst a group of wonderful people, mostly women, who had seen a need and wanted to do what they could to make a difference. To me it was inspiring. We were told never to assume that just because someone was female and slightly built, they hadn’t the strength to carry out physical tasks. So, one day I worked in the woodyard, breaking up pallets andoperating a powered chop saw – the sort that my dear husband wouldn’t let me go near at home. How formidable and fulfilled I felt!

I was exhausted when I got back, emotionally and physically, but without doubt it made me feel less impotent and useless, even though my contribution was only tiny. Rant and rave all you like about issues that upset you, no matter what they are, but nothing beats taking action. Even tiny ones.

 

WayfinderWoman Presents… Work and Well-being Day

The Eastbourne based charity, WayfinderWoman are taking over Eastbourne Town Hall on Friday 21 June for their inaugural Work and Well-being extravaganza!  Running from 9.30-4.30 entry is free.  The Assembly Hall will be full of stalls promoting different types of health and well-being whilst in the Court Room there’s a series of renowned speakers talking about staying healthy within the workplace.

“We’re about helping women build their confidence and one of the first steps in doing that is to look after your own welfare”, said organiser Amanda Andersson.  “Often it’s in the form of a treat and so we’ve got 30+ stalls showing a variety of ways in which you can treat yourself.  From homeopathy to organic skin products, nutritional drinks to various types of massage; we have a sweet stand, reiki, various arts and crafts, styling and colour to lift your mood.   There’s a chance to find out how you can dress to impress using charity shop clothing and we have an extensive choice of teas, cakes and Higgidy Pies for those who fancy popping into our all-day café.”

If that’s not enough, WayfinderWoman have also taken over the Court Room for the day with 13 speakers giving their insights into how people can stay healthy at work.  “We want to work alongside employers too,” said founder Laura Murphy, “and with levels of stress rising in the workplace we wanted to give employers, and their staff, the opportunity for free training in how to generate and maintain a healthy workplace.”

Speakers include the Chief Executive of Eastbourne Unltd Christina Ewbank, who is talking about how to manage teams in a positive way, Judy Pearson from Southdown Housing exploring mental health in the workplace, Learn Direct about how to improve your skills, and Katie Day from RDP International about managing menopause in the workplace.There’s also insights into how to manage behaviours with speakers talking about the use of positive words, how laughter helps to defuse tension, how you can help the brain think effectively and other therapeutic interventions.

“Both the exhibition and the speakers are free to attend, it’s open to men as well as women, and you can drop in to any of the talks or visit the stalls at any time throughout the day,” said Amanda.  “Full details are available on Eventbright – just search WayfinderWoman presents Work and Well Being Day.  It helps us to gauge interest and to make sure we have enough cakes if people register their interest but it’s not essential.  Remember to bring some cash though for those cakes – and the Higgidy Pies!”

Sponsored by Carrot Events, Angela Marden Estate Agents, Custard Design and Draycott Corporation it’s shaping up to be a hum dinger of a day and one not to be missed!

Further information can be obtained by emailing info@wayfinderwoman.com phone 01323 886171 or drop into the information and advice hub at the Labyrinth, Mark Lane, Monday to Wednesday 10.00am-1.00pm.

 

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