Addressing Health Inequalities for Women of Colour

Women’s Well-Being Day in Exeter

In the UK women of colour and from diverse cultural backgrounds experience higher mortality in childbirth and generally worse menstrual health conditions.
Last month The Nest Southwest CIC organised and ran a Women’s Well-Being Day in Exeter to explore the reasons for this inequality and to focus on community and individual responses. The event was open to women of colour, women from diverse cultural backgrounds and allies who would like to be part of creating a positive change. This blog is an outline of the event and a summary of our findings.

So, what happened at The Nest’s Well-Being Day?

The event opened its doors at 10am and began with three optional workshops: Yoga, Period Pad Sewing and Exploring Period Products.

There was also an invitation to join in with conversations around two flip charts which invited people to leave their answers to two questions:
What are your biggest health struggles as a woman?
-What do you need to support your health as a woman?

There was also an incredible spread of food and cakes that had been generously paid for by external funding!

Ok, so what happened next?

After the first workshop session everyone was invited to gather in a large seated circle and participate in a ‘Listening Circle’. This was an opportunity to share personal thoughts, feelings and stories related to those two questions mentioned above.

What are your biggest health struggles as a woman?
-What do you need to support your health as a woman?

The Listening Circle ended with a Red Thread being passed around which symbolised our connection, community and how the menstrual cycle affects many aspects of our lives as women, and people who menstruate.

What happened after the Listening Circle ?

After the Listening Circle there was another opportunity to participate in one of three workshops: Ear Acupuncture, Period Pad Sewing or Exploring Period Products.

Why did people come to the event?

We asked people why they came to the well-being day to help us understand the issues and look for common themes. People were asked on arrival, and there were a few more in depth interviews taken during the event and also a post-event questionnaire for everyone.

Feedback overwhelmingly showed that women came to the event to find community and friendship. And responses post-event were very positive, with everyone asked saying they would attend again. Responses showed the event helped people feel part of something bigger, share lived experiences, and felt listened to and supported through dialogue with each other.

It was commented that the event was a safe space for sharing personal experiences, well supported by The Nest Southwest CIC volunteers. Attendees valued the opportunities for discussion and listening to like-minded others. The event enabled attendees to forge a sense of connection and empowerment through information sharing and feelings of solidarity. People left feeling “uplifted” and wanting opportunities for more events like these.

The warm-up activities, particularly crafts, eased women into the space. The talking circle was pivotal in creating a community spirit. Women mentioned the importance of having a space to speak, listen, and encourage social change through a collective; “Having a voice is power” and “People’s stories make a difference”.

What words did the people who came use to describe the event?

Why did we want to do this event in the first place?

A report published in November 2022 by MBRRACE-UK (1) has revealed the continuous and persistent stark disparity in maternal mortality rates between women from Black and Asian aggregated ethnic groups and White women. The research found that:
Black women were 3.7x more likely to die than white women in childbirth.
-Asian women were 1.8x more likely to die than white women in childbirth.

The report also highlights the increasing impact of deprivation and severe and multiple disadvantages on maternal outcomes. Women living in the most deprived areas of the UK are more than twice as likely to die in childbirth as women living in the wealthiest areas. And with the number one cause of death in the first year giving birth being maternal suicide for all ethnicities something drastic has to be done to support mental health in our communities. We at The Nest Southwest CIC feel strongly that something has to be done about these health inequalities, and as a grass-roots organisation our passion is about bringing people together to listen and hear stories, and find solutions together.

Ok, so it all went well… What’s next?

The Nest believes that community events like this are a critical part of women’s health landscape, with a role to play in sharing stories, building communities, providing information, and empowering people to seek help when needed. This was our first Women’s Well-Being Day and we are astounded by the response and the participation. The feedback also affirmed our belief that sharing stories is powerful. We feel strongly that these type of community grass-roots events can not only help build stronger communities and networks of support that prevent isolation and despair, but build us up within our selves – helping to make us individually more resilient to challenges, more rooted and in touch with our personal sense of power and agency. Together we can do magnificent things!

Our next Women’s Well-Being Day Exeter is pencilled in for Saturday 22nd April. Pop it in your diary now and stay in touch for more details as we confirm them. For any enquiries or feedback please email:

Photo by Pixabay on

Published by Hazel Acland

Director of The Nest SW social enterprise Women's circle facilitator Doula Writer Mum

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