Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Tea and Tents 2016: Wendy's tale

I am new to SHWI having only joined in December and had been looking for a way to get stuck in and get to know other ladies in our group. Brilliantly I was lucky enough to get my hands on a ticket for Tea and Tents 2016 (they sold out in ten minutes!) Even more brilliant was the number of ladies from SHWI who also got tickets.

Tea and Tents is the most organised chaos I have ever witnessed. On arrival I was assigned my volunteer slot to be a ‘Pixie’ on Sunday evening, every single participant had a volunteer slot, to help their fellow campers be it manning a booking stall for events to litter picking and being the person everyone turned to for help with tents (Sarah W that would be you).

The SHWI camp was set up with military precision, the urn was on the cakes were out and we were all ready for a great weekend. Our first evening was spent around the campfire whilst lots of ladies finished off crocheting their soil by head torch for the yarn bomb. (This was an excellent allotment).

There were so many activities to get involved in; some of our group took part in the more energetic activities of Axe Throwing and Shooting, whilst others participated in crafting activities or led activities themselves. Laura hosted the very popular beer swap on the village green, where as soon as she began more and more ladies turned up with their brews in hand ready to share. Sarah hosted our evening with the stars, we found planets and learned something new about the night sky, and she even arranged a shooting star to finish the session off. There were talks on all sorts of subjects by some inspirational women and lots of opportunities to network and get ideas.

Aside from all the marvellous activities my favourite part of the weekend were the evenings sitting around the campfire talking and listening to each other’s stories and life events, and getting to know everyone. We all dressed up as women of steel one evening and welcomed ladies from other WI groups to join us for a natter around the fire, and s’mores and singing.

What can I say? I thoroughly recommend as a new member of SHWI to get involved in activities outside our monthly meetings as it gives you a better opportunity to connect with people.

Unfortunately Tea and Tents is taking a break next year, maybe we do a mini Tea and Tents just for SHWI ladies? My lasting impression of my weekend away is that I came home with a load of new friends and a happy feeling of sisterhood and a resolution to be brave and try more new things and get to know new people.

Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Not just fundraising: A post on becoming a trustee for Light Sheffield

Our members have been involved in more than just fundraising for Light Sheffield, our charity of the year. Emma Clarke has volunteered to be a trustee for the charity and has written the following post to introduce what she has been doing so far and why the charity is so important. 

It was her smile upon leaving the room at the end of the session that stuck with me. Its softness, that it reached her eyes.

As I drove home I thought of the labels which had been attached to this young woman over the previous six months. Teen mum. Mental health service-user. Perinatal mental health patient. Post-natally depressed. I wondered at what point she lost her identity and I tried to imagine just how alone she must feel.

It was Sarah's* first visit to Light Sheffield's weekly group. She came with her mum and her beautiful six-month old daughter. She'd travelled across the city and was too nervous to join in at first, so Jess, project manager, and Amy*, a volunteer, welcomed her in a separate room, telling her about Light, offering compassion and tea, letting her know she'd found a safe space, that she was amongst people who understood. She had found her tribe.

As the three generations of this family - grandma, mum and baby girl - sat on the floor with other mums, surrounded by toys, with a jungle gym providing helpful distraction to an inquisitive little one, I witnessed the power of fellowship. A group of mums who, through conversation, laughter, the swapping of tips and the provision of a listening ear, generated Light and shared it with one another. In professionalised terms this is called peer support, in the real world it's called friendship.

As Sarah headed out of the door at the end of the session – showing that soft smile - she took with her information on sling types, an alternative to Bonjela which came with high praise, the phone number of another mum whose own daughter was only a few weeks older and had joined a WhatsApp group to use in those lonely moments in the middle of the night or to share the good ones. But the most precious thing she took with her was the knowledge that she is doing just fine and there is Light ahead.

The two hours I spent getting to know some of the mums who use Light Sheffield confirmed in my mind becoming a Trustee was the right thing to do. And I hope this small insight in to the work of the charity shows the difference your cake-baking, beer brewing and general drum-banging makes for women in Sheffield.

Emma Clarke 
SHWI member

Visit Light Sheffield's website for more information on their work and support