Devon women speak

Devon Women speak out

In June we launched our countywide survey for women, girls and all menstruators in Devon – aiming to gather information about menstruation, pregnancy, birth and menopause experiences and how they can affect key areas of life. The survey was designed to focus on the impact of these life transitions and the access to support and advice – or lack thereof.

We received more responses than expected, (242 in total!) with so many valuable and important experiences being shared with us. It was inspiring to read the comments left by respondents and discover recurring themes throughout each section – it reminded us that although each individual’s journey through the major life transitions is unique, there are so many shared experiences which unite menstruators together.

The stigma, and lack of conversation & education around these topics contributes towards a lack of the support systems that can bring women, girls, and menstruators together, and as a result the stories and experiences of menstruators are not shared as much as they could be. Which is why so many of the survey respondents said that the one thing they wished they had known from their first bleed is that they aren’t alone.

The survey revealed gaps in information and support, especially when it came to preparation and information about the menopause and postnatal care for mothers – which, now that it has been identified, The Nest hopes to provide extra support to cover those neglected areas. We already provide a variety of groups and services for women in Devon, see our events page for more details.

And you can download the whole report HERE or keep scrolling and read below…

This report is ©TheNestSouthwestCIC. Sharing is permitted as long The Nest Southwest CIC is referenced and our website shared

Menstrual Empowerment Education

Menstrual Empowerment Education

We want to train a team of ‘Transitioneers’ to provide menstrual health workshops for pre-teens in schools in Exeter.


Only one in five girls feels comfortable talking to their teacher about periods.and 49% have missed an entire day of school due to their periods. It’s 2021 and young people are still ashamed of their periods, they are still missing school and period poverty is still a reality for many young people here in the UK. 

Menstrual health may feel like only a small part of young people’s well being but it can affect all aspects of their life. Their relationships, accessing education, our society has created a culture of silence, ignorance and shame impacting on mental health and wellbeing. Rates of self-harm and attempted suicide are alarmingly high (suicide rates of girls increased by 83% in the last 8 years).


Our inclusive education for young people of all genders wants to change this culture. Delivered by a team of approachable well informed volunteers who are able to open up the conversation build body and emotional literacy and break period taboos.

What if YOU could help empower the next generation to not be afraid of their periods, to talk about them openly, to improve their confidence, social connections and wellbeing. Helping pre-teens navigate the transition to adulthood in a positive and informed way.

In Sep 2020 UK law changed and PSHE education became statutory in secondary education, however teachers are under more stress than ever due to the covid pandemic. Adding PSHE to their already stretched workload means it can be an uncomfortable burden for both teachers and students. We want to help.

Our pilot programme aims to train 24 transitioneers focusing on the topics of:
-Sustainable periods
-How periods affect different people
-the importance of menstrual wellbeing

Once trained up they will be supported to go into school and deliver interactive, open, unpressured workshops where all students have the opportunity to ask questions and find out more about how menstrual wellbeing can and will affect their whole lives.


Over the last few years, period poverty here in the UK has become more understood, there has been a collective raising of awareness about this topic and as a result free sanitary products are now available in all schools, however access to products is only half the solution. Taboos still exist, schools are now obligated to provide education about periods too but how do they tackle this?


Hazel, is one of the directors of The Nest Southwest. She is a celebrant and women’s circle facilitator regularly holding spaces for transformation. She is passionate about supporting the major life transitions from menstruation to birth to menopause as she sees these phases as having many similar qualities that can hugely benefit from the presence of social, emotional and informational support.

Chloe, has spent the last 6 years working on menstrual health programmes around the world and promoting the use of reusable sustainable period products such as menstrual cups and washable pads. In 2017, Plan International UK, commissioned her to conduct the first national research into young people and period poverty. She’s learnt the most important thing for changing societal attitudes about periods is creating the space to be inquisitive. She’s excited to work alongside the Nest to go back to her roots, sharing her knowledge and experience with the Transitioneers. 

Abigail, The Nest’s social media intern. From her previous work with young people, she has witnessed the shame and uncertainty that surrounds menstruation. She is excited to be part of this project which wishes to change the narrative and empower young people. 


The Nest already runs an established volunteer program for perinatal peer supporters, training mums who have given birth in the pandemic to support other pregnant people. In the last 12 months we have delivered over 50 sessions including a monthly menstruation awareness group. This cycle awareness focused group has supported women all over Devon, helped them find a like minded community and share menstrual wellbeing ideas. 


Please support us to break taboos in Exeter schools by donating to our crowdfunding campaign or donate us your time and become part of the Transitioneer volunteer team here at The Nest Southwest.

Ready to find out more about becoming an Empowerment Menstrual Educator in Exeter… CLICK HERE or fill in the form below

Perinatal Peer Support Network in Exeter

Perinatal Peer Support Network in Exeter

This week sees the exciting launch of The Nest Southwest’s Perinatal Peer Support Network (PPSN). This small but mighty group of women have lived experience of birthing in a pandemic and are being trained to support local pregnant women and birthing people. They offer a friendly, listening ear from someone who has been there, they can help you to explore your options to find the best choice for you. No medical advice, and no-one telling you what to do as you are the expert on your own life. The perinatal support network helps you understand your options and maybe what helped us might help you too. Not counsellors and not psychologists, we’re all local mums supporting local mums and birthing people. The Nest works alongside the local NHS maternity & clinical care services to offer informal, peer support over a cup of tea. 🙂

The idea for the PPSN came out of our work last year supporting pregnant women via our weekly Zoom Pregnancy Wellbeing groups. and those groups started as in March 2020 as a covid response during the first lockdown. To date we have run 51 session over the last 12 months, and the response has been amazing! Women have joined this little group, and kept coming back every week for many moths of their pregnancy, then returned with their newborn to share their birth experience and also continue the friendships with other women still pregnant. After that many women also stayed in touch with The Nest community via the linked WhatsApp chat groups. The nurturing Nest held the space. Friendships have grown. Babies have been born. Problems have been shared. Solutions have been explored. Stories have been heard.

In December 2020 The Nest ran a survey open to all women who had come along to one of our groups. We asked what they liked, what we could do differently and what they’d like to see from us next. We also ran some in-depth case studies, with surprising results.

The women we spoke to wanted to ‘give back’ to the Nest and volunteer to help other pregnant women struggling during the covid-19 pandemic as they recognised just how much the group had supported them during a difficult time. and so the Perinatal Peer Support Network was born.

The project is all about connecting women who have lived experience of giving birth in the pandemic and those who are preparing to do so. Using online spaces as well as physical ones, we aim to reach across communities and unite birthing people in their common held goal – for a safe, positive, empowered birth experience. We will work to build confidence through education, reduce stress through social connection, increase mental well-being through self-esteem, develop parenting competence and create strong, long-lasting friendships and peer support.

The Zoom group is an hour long and begins with a quick round of introductions and sharing of any issues that week. Sometimes people feel uncertain how about much they’ll have to share and the answer is only as much as you’re comfortable with. Topics can be discussed without personal details being shared if that’s more comfortable for you, but many women find the safe space and confidentially inside The Nest gives them some space to talk things through.

When we meet in person the session is an hour and a half long to give time for plenty of tea drinking! The format is the same as the zoom group: talking about current issues and exploring options but there’s also space for some simple craft activities.

Things that we’ve talked about recently include (but not limited to): iron deficiency, birth plans, placental injection, vaginal examinations in labour, positive birth company, exercise after pregnancy, shared parental leave, benefits of COVID and pregnancy.… and more!

Please share the news of the PPSN with any local pregnant people, and if you’re pregnant yourself – sign up and come along. The kettle is on and the door is open <3

Get in touch to find out more or book into a future session:

This project has been made possible by The National Lottery

Happy LBT+ women’s health week!

Happy LBT+ women’s health week!

Here at the Nest Southwest we strive to be inclusive and take seriously the need for positive allies when supporting lesbian, bisexual and trans women’s health.  This week is LBT+ women’s health week and this blog post is to provide clarity on our position to create a safe and welcoming community.

Research shows that there are higher rates of mental health issues for LGBT+ people than cis or straight people due to repeated discrimination,  and intersectional issues can sadly cause more suffering. While it is unlawful under the Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2007 for anyone to be discriminated against in the provision of any good, facility or service because of their actual or perceived sexual orientation, we’ve heard stories of some lesbian / bisexual mums-to-be that struggle with the standard form filling when there is not a box that represents, their situation and find themselves crossing out the box that says dad and adding a second mum. As a small organisation The Nest has the ability to be very responsive to our community needs. We are here to listen to what women want, and find out how we can support them, including signposting and sharing resources. For example, this fantastic resource provides information for lesbians who are interested in becoming parents, and can help service providers better understand the needs of lesbians.

Photo by Barcelos_fotos on

The Nest’s mission is to inform, support  & empower women and girls through menstruation, childbirth and menopause. We proudly welcome LBT+ and BAME women to join our Nest community and strive to create a space where they can feel welcome. We have clear policy of inclusivity and welcome positive feedback on how we can improve our services to be more LBT+ and BAME friendly.

We pledge to treat all our service users with the dignity and respect they deserve. We will not tolerate transphobia, biphobia or any kind of systemic discrimination. 

Our Pregnancy Well-being Zoom group is open to all people who are pregnant, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identify. Our monthly Red Tent event is for all people who identify as women. Our menstrual Well-being workshops are aimed at people of all genders. And as we add more events we engage with our local community to become inclusive, fun and supportive.

We say NO to transphobia, biphobia, racism, sexism and violence.

We say YES to kindness, peace, equality and love.

 If you are a LBT+ and / or BAME woman and would like to get involved in our strategy and policy development please get in touch.

#LBTWomensHealth21 #thenestsw #womensrights

Our First Blog Post

I discovered I always have choices and sometimes it’s only a choice of attitude.

– Judith M. Knowlton

Our First Blog Post

Hello! This is our first blog post here at The Nest. For the past year we have been finding our feet, and mostly using our Facebook page as a place to share news and views. But 2021 has lots of plans and it feels like time to open this forum as a place to expand and share stuff that’s going on, dreams of the future and updates as they happen.

Let me take this opportunity to give a bit of background to who and why we are. We formed this social enterprise, not-for-profit, community interest company back in October 2019. Myself (Hazel) along with Jodie and Nancy came together because we wanted to bring together these different stages of life in a holistic and cohesive way. When we were thinking of a name we listed some of the things we wanted people to feel when they participated with us… these were things like feeling warm, welcomed, respected, finding connection, feeling nature connection… and we talked about how a nest held all those things and could become a sanctuary from the world. a place to rest before flying on your way. And so, ‘The Nest Southwest CIC’ was born.

Unlike a regular business whose main purpose is generally to maximise profits for owners or stakeholders, a social enterprise focus’ on positive social change in the world – a business with a vision. And this vision is built on our personal sets of values. These values are an integral part of everything we do, they are:

  • Building Connections – to self, to other and to the wider world
  • Respect
  • Nurture and compassion

Our vision is of a cohesive society where rites of passage have the power to connect us compassionately to each other and the planet.

Our mission is to inform, support and empower peer support through menstruation, pregnancy & birth and menopause. We do this through holding peer support groups, raising awareness through communication, reducing landfill waste by starting a library of things and promoting reusable sanitary products, running educational classes and building partnerships with local organisations.

We are currently offering a weekly drop-in Pregnancy & Birth Well-being support group on Friday evenings 6.30pm – 7.30pm. We also run a Pregnancy Yoga class on a Monday evening. And a monthly Red Tent. Get in touch to find out more and join in. There’s no waiting list and all local Devon people are welcome.