Women Supporting Women

This is an article by LAURA LEONGOMEZ who, with a her friend LOUISE VAUGHAN, has recently started a women’s group: Women Supporting Women (South Pembs)










Last year my partner and I decided to move to Wales. It was something I had been dreaming of for a while but I knew it wouldn’t be easy to leave all my client base and start from scratch, especially because I had recently had a baby and was still trying to figure out how to be a mum.

So very quickly, even before I moved, I started networking, joining local groups on Facebook and sharing my services. This is how I met Louise. She wanted to have a massage so we started exchanging messages and soon we discovered we had a lot in common. We were both massage therapists, we had both facilitated women’s circles, we were both mums, we both
worked with menstrual and womb health and, above all, we were both interested in creating spaces that supported women.

Also we both had Facebook groups first designed to share our work but Louise wanted to create a space that was more open, a networking group for women, especially those living on the south side of the Preseli Hills, as she had noticed women in North Pembrokeshire had already such spaces and lots of activities going on. And that’s why we added (South Pembs) to Women Supporting Women.

Now we’ve been told South Pembs is actually over Cleddau Bridge so I guess we’ll have to change that.

Louise’s intention in her own words were “to make connections, to lighten the load for women and myself, to share our knowledge and skills to create a loving supportive community where asking for help is comfortable and encouraged and offering help is possible.”

She came to me with this idea to see if I wanted to help her moderate that space. I loved the idea and we opened the group straight away but I thought we should take it a bit further. I had seen too many Facebook spaces like this turned into nothing but a noticeboard so saturated with posts that no one even bothers to read them after a while. I didn’t want this to happen so I
told Louise about the time bank idea.

I was introduced to the concept of time banks almost 10 years ago while studying permaculture in Spain, and ever since I’ve thought of this as a magnificent way to bring communities together, boost people’s morale, ignite creativity, strengthen the economy, and repair self-esteem as well as the social weave. We thought it would be especially good for those women that, after having children, end up outside the job market – which can be a severe blow to financial independence and self-worth.

The idea was to create a safe space for women where they could build up and share their skills even if they’ve been out of the job market for years, even if they seem to always be busy with their kids, even if they don’t have professional training.

So the first step was to schedule some in-person meetings so we can tell people about it and see how they feel. We’ve had one meeting and some direct skill swaps already came out of that – which was amazing to see.

Now we’re going to build up a document where we can record members’ details and the skills or assets they want to contribute so that more direct swaps can take place. As we grow we hope we can get some training on creating and managing a time bank.

At the moment people get in touch directly through Facebook. We’re hoping to meet more women at the social and start creating a file for contact details and skills or goods they want to trade – also facilitating and organising some of the events they have already expressed interest in.

Plans for the future? So many! We’ve been taking notes and learning about what women need. Childcare is a massive one. We’re aiming to create some childcare swaps asap. Also we’d like to have proper skill-sharing days where women can teach others what they know. So far, gardening, foraging and vegetable growing seem to be a popular skill so maybe also some
community growing patch?

The possibilities are endless. We dream of having our own space where women can meet up to share skills at any time, do some artwork together, care for the kids together, receive training of different sorts, hold their events, or simply share a cuppa. Maybe creating a community interest company so we can apply for some funding? Ah, so many dreams! Challenges
and time limitations seem insurmountable just for the two of us but that’s the beauty of it – we don’t have to do it alone, we will do it together.

Next meeting will be on 2 April at 10am at Louise’s house in Rosemarket, so get in touch if you want to come.

Louise is a mother of two, holistic massage therapist and womb yoga teacher.

Laura is a translator and holistic therapist from Colombia, mum of a two-year-old; passionate
about languages, women’s health, and social and environmental causes.

Kitty Parsons

Kitty has forgotten how long she has been here now but she loves Pembrokeshire for its beauty and it's people. She spends her time searching out stories for pembrokeshire.online, swimming in the sea , drawing and painting as Snorkelfish and eating cake. She says "Pembrokeshire.online has been an opportunity to celebrate this beautiful county and its people. Keep the stories coming. We love to hear from you."

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