As 2019 draws to a close, we have been reflecting back over the last 12 months! Our second year of working together as part of this amazing social enterprise has been one of real growth and resilience.
When new year comes around it is easy to throw yourself into big plans and grand ideas, but we are taking some time to celebrate how far we have come and to remind ourselves that what we are doing right now is already truly magical.
There have been rejections and moments of doubt, overwhelm and worry, but looking back we are so incredibly proud of ourselves and what we have built and achieved throughout this year.
Here is a roundup of for anyone who wants to join us in celebrating our 2019 journey…
We started off the year with another grant from the Tesco Bags of Help scheme which allowed us to continue to offer funded birth doula support and consultations.
Navigating the world of funding and grants has been challenging at times but we were so pleased to be offered funding for a number of different projects.
Money from the Big Lottery has allowed us to continue to work with women suffering from, and who are at risk of birth trauma. With the help of this grant we have supported many resilient women who were seeking holistic support for future pregnancies or who were courageously exploring their past traumatic births, and challenging the authorities and systems that did not provide the care they needed. Each woman took brave steps towards healing and progress and thanks to this grant, we were able to support this further with funded Rewind sessions with Lauren.
Later in the year we received funding for Lush Charity Pots to write and deliver an antenatal course with a focus on women’s human rights. Through our work with local women we know that human rights abuse in pregnancy and birth are rife. We believe that ending obstetric violence will require a complete overhaul of the system, starting with how women prepare for birth. At present it is unrealistic to expect to ‘go with the flow’ within the maternity services and have a positive, powerful birthing experience, which is outrageous. Learning to be comfortable being that dreaded “difficult woman” who questions everything, serves the woman, her baby, her family, and her community.
We are just so excited to share this with the world. What topics would you like to see on this course? Nothing is too out there – think outside the box!
We were also accepted as a Local Cause by The Co-op, from the end of October for a year. In the Co-ops in Hulme (Birley Fields), Whalley Range, Oxford Rd, and Leech Funeral Care members can vote for us, and 1% of profits will go to our fund. If you want to support us with this, please join the Co-op as a member if you haven’t already, and choose us to be your local cause. If you can, encourage friends and family to do the same. All the money we get from this will go towards offering funding birth doula support to local women who could not otherwise afford it. You can track our funding here.
October took us to Bradford for the annual FiLiA conference and it was an incredible experience. We had a table, and invited women to speak to us. Here’s a photo album of highlights. We heard so many amazing, inspiring women, and we are looking forward to going again next year. Women told us where they’re struggling in life, and we listened. We are considering adding services not related to birth to better serve our community. What would you like to be doula-ed through?
We started a Birth Network group for birth workers in Greater Manchester who want to connect and support one another.
Through these meets we met the lovely Amy, another local doula whose approach is so similar to ours, who has a similar ethos towards the work. As always, leading up to Christmas was our busiest time of year and Amy helped us out lots, much to our, and our clients’, delight! Amy understands that practicing in a woman-centered way is more about being than doing, and that the first step toward a positive experience is promoting and protecting womens’ autonomy. We are really looking forward to working alongside her more in 2020.
GMD CIC is all about women supporting women, so when we realised we needed to grow (to support more women!) we sought out a local woman to support us! Introducing the amazing Lucy Green, a certified business coach and development consultant. Pardon the metaphors but she knows her onions, and is an all round good egg. She’s going to be kicking us up the butts for the next few months, to turn our dreams into plans. It can be easy (even though it’s hard!) to focus on the now and what’s right in front of us, but if we want to see our dreams in action we must shake up the way we work.
2020 is going to be a crucial year for GMD. We will keep you in the loop, and if you want to get more involved you can apply to join our volunteer’s group.
Please keep sharing our posts, write us a review or testimonial if you haven’t already so others can read about our work, and put up a flyer on your local noticeboard. It goes towards support our work, allowing us to continue to support other women.
Throughout the year we have continued to work to build community for women in Manchester. We still facilitate the Chorlton Home Birth Group and as well as starting new community ventures to support sisterhood and solidarity among local women.
We started up the Women Reclaiming Birth Circle, a new group, running the last Thursday of every month. It is all about women informing women through pregnancy, birth, and beyond. All women are invited to come, to contribute their wisdom, and share their experiences and we are excited to see how this group grows over the next year.
We also started The Wild Mothering Circle with the amazing wild mothers Jody and Alice. It is a safe and supportive circle both online and in the form of weekly face to face meets for women and children. Initially the group was focussed on women supporting women through the ups and downs of motherhood, especially for women making more “alternative” choices. However throughout the year we have been curious about ‘The Mother’ being more than the role we take on when we give birth. Instead considering ‘The Mother’ as a stage that every woman can access and experience in life, regardless of whether or not she has given birth. We are looking forward to opening the group up to any wild women who wants to explore this archetype more, and working towards creating our village.
Lastly but perhaps most importantly, we continued to work directly with women as radical birth keepers. We held space for women during pregnancy into motherhood, we attended beautiful births, and watched so many women transform and step into their feminine power through the rite of passage that is birth. We also held space for women choosing to face and heal from their traumas.
To all of these women, and everyone who we have supported since we began this work, we say thank you! We are humbled by your power and resilience, and feel so privileged to have supported each of you and witnessed your journeys.
A new year, a new decade
Wow, what a year it has been! And we have done all of this as single mothers, mothering children with additional needs and navigating our own health and wellbeing struggles. It has been incredibly hard at times but we wouldn’t change it for the world. More than ever we feel called to do this work and cannot wait to see what we can build together throughout 2020 and beyond.
We thank you wholeheartedly for being a Greater Manchester Doulas CIC supporter. We hope you continue to be part of our community, helping it to grow and flourish. Let’s keep building the village we all long for and deserve!
Sending so much love and wishing you a happy new year 🥳
Lauren & Elle x