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In the run up to International Women’s Day 2024, Project Coordinator Leigh Staunton met with Women’s Health Matters to chat about their important work in Leeds and how they support positive mental health at work for their employees. Women’s Health Matters are a Leeds Mindful Employer Network Member and Charter Signatory and keen to connect and link up with fellow network members.

Empowering Women, Building Community: Women’s Health Matters’ Commitment to Wellbeing and Collaboration

Welcome to Women’s Health Matters, where we empower women and girls to lead safe and healthy lives. Our mission is clear: we provide a holistic, trauma-informed service tailored for those often overlooked or marginalised. This includes, but is not limited to, those affected by domestic abuse, those whose children live elsewhere, those accessing maternity services, women seeking asylum, women with disabilities, and women and their children experiencing trauma. We take a woman-centred holistic approach, creating a safe, nurturing environment to help women and girls recover their confidence, explore their own needs, regain control of their lives, and build secure and healthy relationships.

So, what’s on our agenda for the months ahead? Three main priorities: securing funding for our core operations and our projects that are soon to end, relaunching our National Lottery funded Breathe Free project with a new team, and utilising the amazing services from being signed up to Mindful Employer Plus. These initiatives are crucial in our ongoing commitment to serving our community and making a real difference in the lives of women and girls in Leeds.

As International Women’s Day approaches, we wanted to think about how we work as an organisation to prioritise the success and wellbeing of our staff as part of the Mindful Employer Network. Our team will join events across the sector, connecting with organisations like Women Friendly Leeds and Leeds Refugee Forum. In our support groups, we’ll be getting creative, marking the day with collaborative artwork and empowering discussions. Yet, let’s remember the essence of it all. International Women’s Day isn’t just about one day of celebration – it’s about sparking conversations and actions that promote gender equity every single day. So, we want to encourage other organisations in the network to celebrate the incredible women in your organisations and push for progress, both in the workplace and beyond.

Staff mental health and wellbeing are highly prioritised at WHM; recognising the toll our emotionally demanding work can take, we have a whole treasure trove of support measures to ensure our team feels valued, empowered, and resilient. Our staff wellbeing sessions are right in the heart of our monthly calendars: a chance for the whole team to come together, bond over shared activities and unwind. Project Workers attend weekly peer supervision sessions, which provide protected, scheduled time to share challenges, celebrate successes and support each other both practically and emotionally.

We encourage our staff to take time off when needed, ensuring they use their annual leave and refrain from regularly working over their hours. Plus, everyone gets regular one-to-one sessions with their managers, safeguarding leads, and access to external supervision – because no one should go it alone. We encourage our team to access training and mentoring or coaching to progress their career development. But it’s not all work and no play. We socialise outside the office regularly, including on our annual staff away day, where we enjoy each other’s company and recharge our batteries together.

At WHM, being a Mindful Employer isn’t just a label – it’s a commitment to prioritising the wellbeing of our staff and the women and girls we serve. It’s about setting high standards of care and showing the world we’re serious about creating a supportive, positive, and feminist workplace culture. The Mindful Employer Network helps us to actively create an environment where everyone can thrive and we encourage other organisations to join us in this mission. We’re thrilled to have recently signed up to Mindful Employer Plus, which gives us access to amazing resources like telephone counselling and helplines for our staff. It’s another way we show our team that their wellbeing matters to us every step of the way.

Here at WHM, we’re all about collaboration and learning from others. That’s why we’re eager to connect with other Mindful Employer network members. We’re on the lookout for opportunities such as skill swaps, joint learning sessions, volunteers, and in-kind and financial support. Plus, we’re proud to offer domestic violence and abuse (DVA) training to professionals working with women and children – a crucial resource given that DVA affects so many individuals, with many cases going unreported. Domestic abuse is a pervasive issue, impacting 1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men over their lifetimes, with much more going unreported. The Crime Survey for England and Wales estimated that 2.1 million people aged 16 years and over (1.4 million women and 751,000 men) experienced domestic abuse in the year ending March 2023. We’re here to support organisations in the network, we can work with you to become more confident in supporting your teams through these challenges, and we can offer support directly to staff.

And lastly, if you’re considering your Charity of the Year or beneficiaries for fundraising campaigns, we hope you’ll keep us in mind. Every contribution helps us continue our vital work supporting women, their families, and girls in need. Let’s make a positive impact hand in hand.

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