How The Nest Southwest CIC support their community through the major life transitions
- Lived experience
My name is Hazel Acland and I am the founder and co-director of grass roots enterprise The Nest Southwest CIC. We are a small Devon based not-for-profit social enterprise that exists to support women and people who menstruate, by hosting regular support groups, workshops, and creating vital peer support networks in Exeter. We proactively support our community, of women, girls, and people who menstruate, through the major life transitions of menstruation, pregnancy, birth and menopause, making International Women’s Day an important mark in our annual calendar.
International Women’s Day is an opportunity for people of all genders to come together to raise awareness of gender-based discrimination and violence, advocate for women’s rights, and highlight the contributions that women have made to society. By celebrating the achievements of women and recognising the work that still needs to be done, International Women’s Day inspires and empowers women to continue fighting for their rights and the rights of others.
At The Nest, our vision is to live in a world where women and girls feel empowered and fulfilled at each stage of their life. We want to be part of creating a cohesive society where these rites of passage, such as menstruation, pregnancy, birth and menopause, are honoured as gateways of personal development as well as biological milestones.
Unicef estimates that people who menstruate spend about 2,500 days bleeding throughout their lifetime. But there is still stigma and shame surrounding this ordinary event, with misinformation and lack of education about how understanding periods can help overall mental health – if you are a menstruator or not.
For the last two years The Nest has run a local secondary school program designed to tackle these important issues and an opportunity to learn about menstrual well-being in a fun and informative way, increasing understanding and challenging misconceptions. One vital element in our sessions is that we opened up to include all genders as we believe this is essential not only for non-binary or trans kids to feel comfortable, but for everyone to understand the far-reaching effects of menstruation.
From the moment menstruation starts at adolescence until it stops at menopause, the hormonal-led fertility cycle has a daily influence and can affect every aspect of life, from work to relationships to family life. It is often impossible to separate what is hormonally driven from mental, physical and emotional symptoms. But The Nest’s work to date has shown that people feel better after attending our school sessions and our regular peer support groups. We believe that increased mental well-being can have a ripple effect and positively affect all areas of life.
The Nest Southwest CIC is a platform for women and menstruators to come together, connect, and support each other. It promotes solidarity among women and encourages them to share their experiences, stories, and knowledge. This kind of collective action is essential for creating social and political change, and it can be incredibly empowering for women and menstruators who may feel isolated or marginalised in their daily lives, not just on International Women’s Day, but everyday.
Join us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, as we continue to celebrate the achievements of women, raise awareness of the ongoing struggle for gender equality, and provide a platform for women to come together, connect, and support each other.
Hazel Acland is a life transitions doula, group facilitator, trainer and celebrant. She regularly holds listening circles and is passionate about the power of curiosity. She has published a book about how states of consciousness relate to stages of labour and birth. Hazel lives on a smallholding in Devon, baking sourdough bread, keeping bees and walking the woods.