Saturday 23rd September 2-4pm at Parklife Hub, Heavitree Park, Exeter, EX1 3DN.
Come and spend an afternoon with The Nest at our annual community day! All of our current community members, group attendees, participants plus interested people welcome.
This relaxed afternoon is a chance for everyone who has been involved in The Nest to get together, drink tea, eat cake and meet within a like minded community.
The Nest exists to support women and people who menstruate through menstruation, pregnancy, birth and menopause by offering social, emotional and informational support. We do this by running peer support groups, workshops, events, social media campaigns and curating reliable resources on our website.
We are a grass-roots community organisation that is peer-led in Exeter by local women. We are a certified social enterprise, community interest company, not-for-profit and use all profits to keep running our services for women and menstruators in Exeter.
Warm, inclusive, crucial, pioneering.
-A Nest group attendee when asked how it feels to be at a Nest event.
The Nest community day is inclusive of LGBTQIA+ people and especially welcomes people of colour and those with global people. We strongly hold the values of respect, non-judgement, inclusivity, gender equality and ask everyone who attends any of our groups to agree to these values during our time together as well. Together we co-create safe and brave spaces for peer support, understanding, personal empowerment and a more positive world for all.
Tickets for The Nest community day are free – book your space now.
We are delighted to announce that The Nest’s successful Perinatal Peer Support Network (PPSN) has just received funding from The National Lottery to take on more volunteers to offer perinatal peer support to women and birthing people in Exeter. This is the third wave of recruitment we’ve run, the difference this time is that we are opening up to applications from the wider local community. The aim is to support and encourage new parents as they prepare and transition into parenthood, by reducing anxiety, increasing well-being and supporting bonding with their baby.
The Nest Southwest is an Exeter based not-for-profit community interest company. We support women, girls and menstruators through the major life transitions of menstruation, pregnancy, birth, and menopause by providing social, emotional, and informational support. We run regular groups for pregnancy, new parents, a Walk & Talk group, Baby Loss Conversation Café, Core Restore and yoga classes and hire out low cost birth equipment. We also have a menopause peer support network of volunteers with two monthly menopause support groups. We have run successful programs delivering menstrual education in schools and women’s well-being events for women of colour and from diverse cultural backgrounds. We are passionate about inclusivity, are LGBTQIA+ friendly and anti-racist.
About the PPSN
Launched in 2021, The Nest’s Perinatal Peer Support Network is a small group of women who have lived experience of pregnancy, birth, and parenting, and who are trained with us to learn how to support local women and birthing people through this transition. We are now looking to expand this network, could you join us?
If you have lived experience of birth and parenting, have good listening and communication skills, and are keen to support others through this transition, we would love to hear from you. We especially welcome applications from non-binary birthing people, women of colour and those from diverse cultural backgrounds. Please note that you must be able to commit to this role for a minimum of 8 months.
Volunteering is an opportunity to make a real difference in people’s lives. It allows individuals to contribute to their communities, gain new skills and experiences, make new friends, and improve their mental and physical health. Additionally, volunteering can have positive impacts on society and the environment.
At the Nest we promote gender equality and recognize the unique experiences and struggles of individuals who face overlapping forms of oppression, including discrimination based on race, gender, sexuality, and more. Volunteering with The Nest means being part of something bigger and creating real change in peoples lives.
We offer full induction into The Nest policies, procedures, and code of conduct. Our Perinatal Peer Supporter training goes on to include active listening techniques, birth debriefing, safeguarding, overview of birth and breastfeeding biology, understanding local healthcare services, cultural competency, and LGBT+ inclusive language. There are ongoing group supervision sessions, with individual support as required, reimbursement of travel costs if needed and regular wider team get-togethers. We like to believe that being part of The Nest team is about being part of creating a cohesive society where these rites of passage are honoured as gateways of personal development as well as biological milestones.
If you are interested in joining our friendly team, you can find out more and apply here:
The theme for IWD this year is Embrace Equity, yes you read that right EQUITY (not Equality) Slight change of spelling and change of meaning.
So what’s the difference?
Equality means each individual or group of people is given the same resources or opportunities. So, what if everyone gets a bike as a form of transport. But what if one person doesn’t have any legs, is that bike any good to them? No!
Equity recognizes that each person has different circumstances, and allocates the exact resources and opportunities needed to reach an equal outcome. So instead of a bike, the person with no legs would get some other mode of transport that suits their situation.
Inequity affects many people, but most commonly historically it has marginalized communities such as women, people of colour, disabled people, the economically disadvantaged, and those from the LGBTQ+ community.
The goal of equity is to change systemic and structural barriers that get in the way of people’s ability to thrive. (1)
“You can do some rather extraordinary things if that’s what you really believe.”
– Toni Morrison
This blog post is also to introduce you to the work of The Nest and signpost to some other women’s support organisations in the Exeter and Devon area.
The Nest Southwest is a community interest company based in Exeter, Devon, set up to support women and girls through the major life transitions of menstruation, pregnancy, birth and menopause. We offer social, emotional and informational support through a variety of women’s peer support groups, menstrual wellbeing workshops, webinars, social media presence and a hire service to reduce landfill waste while saving money. We are passionate about creating community by opening spaces that foster non-judgement, build peer support networks, and grow respect for self, others and the planet.
Whatever you choose to do with your time we hope you will take a moment after reading this blog to reflect on the world you live in, and if there are any actions you can make to increase gender equity in your home, and your community. Big changes are often made up of little actions taken consistently over a long period of time, and to create a world where gender equity is a reality, the changes need to first start inside ourselves and our beliefs.
“Put your ear down close to your soul and listen hard.”
Comments? Please drop us a line. We’d love to hear from you…
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.
Grief Tending in Community for anyone affected by baby loss
Where there is sorrow, there is holy ground.
It is hard to put words to the extent that the loss of a child, a pregnancy or hope of conception can reach. Sometimes it can feel like the world we thought we knew is unravelling after a loose thread has been pulled and snagged the whole cloth. Grief can be unreasonable, savage and wild. This page is about our approach to grief and the community events we offer.
Women are slowly opening up about their menstrual cycles and menopause. By sharing our own experience with friends and family, we all contribute to normalising what has been for decades, and in even for centuries, a taboo or at least an inappropriate topic for a conversation. It is reassuring to see the growing coverage about menstruation and menopause in the mainstream media, and it offers us an opportunity to become courageous and to join in with the discussion, to exchange stories with the circle of peers.
On April 4th, The Nest Southwest CIC hosted a Community Day to celebrate our successes with tea and cake. Choosing Sylvania Community Hall as our venue, the day allowed members from all three sections of our organisation to come together – Menopause, Menstruation, Pregnancy & Birth. And what a day it was.
Grief is a collection of feelings we feel for a variety of reasons, most commonly understood to be something we feel when people we love pass away. But it’s one of the most complicated of emotions, and not limited to losing a loved one. It is not linear and does not follow an easy straight pathway back ‘to normal.’ Grief is also an initiation, as we are forever changed by the experience.
We are living in a time of loss for so many things. We open the doorway to grief and see how wide ranging it can be, and how often we are afraid of even opening the door to peek through because of what we might find. And although grief is unique to you and your situation, when we come together we can feel compassion with others which helps alleviate feelings of loneliness, and can ease anxiety and depression.
Here at The Nest we support women, birthing people and menstruators through the major life transitions of menstruation, pregnancy, birth and menopause. Grief can be encountered around many of these corners, and is something that is not often shared but is very common when we start talking about fertility.
Grief can come at many stages in the fertility journey, for example through:
Termination of pregnancy for social or financial reasons
Termination for medical reasons
Divorce / separation
Fertility treatment loss
Pregnancy after loss
Or any other grief related to the wide field of fertility… all is welcome
Grief tending in community
What do we do when the weight of sorrow lies heavy in our heart? How do we deal with it? Grief tending in community is a four hour event to give attention to our grief within a supportive group. It is a journey for connection with self, and others who also feel deeply and widely.
Humans are a social species. We are born to live in connection with other people, not just for the good times, but also for the difficult ones. Grief tending in community offers an opportunity to build a ‘village’ even if only for the day, which can bear witness and hold each other’s strong feelings. It can help to:
Build connection to other people
Give emotional release
Soothe the nervous system
Open to healing
Connect with life
Our next Grief Tending in Community event is coming up on Wednesday 6th April in Exeter. Please register your interest now:
Grief tending in community is a space to share some of those feelings within a like-minded group. We meet in person with a supportive team who hold the space for sorrow and have experience of supporting others in this way.
We recognise that grief is not an isolated event, but is affected by your unique personality, your family situation, your culture, language, spirituality and community. We welcome all genders.
Grief tending is about creating a non-judgmental and respectful experience to process some of our feelings while being witnessed and witnessing others. For too many of us grief is hidden behind closed doors, sometimes through fear or in an attempt to try and protect others from the depth of our pain.
Grief tending cannot take away what happened to you, but it can offer an opportunity to learn to live alongside the feelings.
Grief tending in community is not the first place to come if you are recently bereaved, or if your mental health is unstable. Please seek advice from your health care professional if you are in any doubt.
Neither does grief tending in community replace professional therapy, but can work very well alongside 1-2-1 work.
Grief tending is a good way to feel feelings, especially if you have felt stuck for a while, feel numb and don’t know what you feel. When coming to an event we advise that you find support for yourself both before and afterward. This could be a check in with a good friend or family member who can listen, or with a trained therapist or counsellor.
Ready to book?
Register your interest to be the first to know when booking opens for our event on 6th April 2022.
Exeter’s Menopause Café has well and truly launched.
Contributing to a nationwide drive, it’s every first Friday of the month, so it’s easy to remember. And it was so good the first time in October that I booked again for the second meet, and I’m already booked for the third meet – it’s literally that infectious.
So who amongst the menopausal ‘us’ doesn’t want to chat in confidence, in a safe, friendly environment, over coffee, share views and stories, and create new ones? In steps The Nest Southwest CIC (which stands for Community Interest Company) to provide just that. Courtesy of The Glorious Art House Café run by the unbelievably cheerful Rosie, she knew she always wanted to host such meetings.
How clever a name is The Nest which was set up to encompass the whole process from menstruation, pregnancy and childbirth to motherhood in their offering, through to the other ‘M’- Menopause. These are all milestones in the reproductive life cycle with which The Nest anticipated we might need help in our lives.
There’s so much more noise now about the menopause. We do really need to pause. We are in midlife, but menopause has been given a bad name for too long. Women have not known during that time what’s hit them. They still don’t. But they know more. At least the conversation has started, from documentaries to news items, (The Menopause Café Exeter Launch was filmed in part by BBC Spotlight), specialist doctors, to GPs. Word is getting out and round. The conversations are happening, choices and decisions are thankfully more informed, and we are being celebrated. We’re filling in the gaps and it’s causing quite a buzz.
We should campaign to re-name the menopause to something a bit more user-friendly. There are needless to say a few contenders but I personally like the sound of Second Spring , as it is a second chance at life, a rebirth. Whatever it’s called, it’s being reframed. It has to be. With the menopause, so much feeds into it, and comes out of it. We will now hopefully get a lot more out of it. Finally we are less than just a label and more a force to be reckoned with.
Exeter couldn’t have picked a nicer, quirkier, inspired setting for its monthly morning meets to lift our spirits. The Glorious Art House Café really is glorious; two floors of a wonderful historic building with original features that have been so brightly furnished, updated and decorated, you’d consider yourself on holiday, so welcoming is the atmosphere. You won’t be surprised to learn it really is an arthouse.
At that time of the morning it’s a perfectly fashioned coffee and cake to settle down with, quirky crockery and tableware to boot. The menopause meeting takes place on the first floor to ensure the safety and confidentiality of the menopausal (and non-menopausal) café customers. Half way through, it’s almost a game of musical chairs to encourage more getting to know one another by shuffling around, even enlarging a chatty group and of course a chance to grab another hot drink.
It’s a chance to support local businesses and independents, (as many of the attendees here are) each other and fellow mid-lifers. There have been waiting lists both times so far, and it’s easy to see why this catches on. There’s the desired 14 of us max at the moment. We are here with a common cause. We have our own personal narratives, we become a voice, a menopause community. Initially as strangers we are friends we haven’t made yet. Friends come with friends, and make new ones. You might come in alone, but you are never alone. You don’t walk out alone. And soon the faces become familiar and might well form a core, conversations can veer off topic, just as they should, when you realise you have more in common than you thought.
See, we can ‘google’ all we like the classic symptoms of peri-and menopause, the ones most talked about, the loudest ones and even post-menopause as we are all at different stages of this midlife. But the quieter symptoms, they are the most exciting ones to talk about. We all end up laughing.
A Menopausal Café -goer from the inaugural meet in Perth, Scotland, originally told The Guardian newspaper, “Now I know I’m not alone. I’m not going mad.”
One Exeter attendee most recently said “I enjoyed it SO much. The whole meet was so uplifting and inspiring; you provided a space where I could thrive, in a way I haven’t been able to for so long – I came alive.”
Guest blog written by Barbara Wheatley. A former PR from London, with a BA in International Marketing, now living in Devon, writing flash fiction and creative non-fiction. Barbara is passionate about language and the written word, reading, writing, philosophising while researching and reviewing. Her work has appeared on Paragraph Planet and regularly on Friday Flash Fiction. She is a member of the SW Writer’s Register and proud to recently become a LITRO magazine contributor with her first ever 2000 word book review. She loves to take good photos, is into colour, music, all things pre-loved and is an advocate of mental wellbeing.
The Nest Southwest hosts the Exeter Menopause Café on the first Friday of the month at The Glorious Art House Café, on Fore Street, Exeter. 10am to 12 noon. All genders and all ages welcome. Entry by donation. Booking essential as space is limited. Book HERE now.