Third Sector event – State of Women’s Health report
Thursday 28th November 2019 at Leeds Civic Hall
In Partnership with Public Health, Leeds City Council, Leeds Beckett University and Third Sector Leeds, the Leeds Women and Girls Hub hosted a briefing followed by a workshop for Third Sector organisations in Leeds, which that focused on the State of Women’s Health in Leeds Report that was launched on International Women’s Day March 2019.
The aim of the event was to share with attendees the key messages and recommendations and the women’s voices that have supported the report and was split into two parts:
The first being a presentation lead by the report authors and the second part was a workshop that supported conversations for attendees to think about what they currently offer in terms of Women and Girls health and wellbeing opportunities and if there was scope for more.
The workshop concluded with a focus on what changes would they make in the workplace and for future service planning.
The Leeds Women’s and Girls Hubs were established as a mechanism for any woman or girl, independent or professional, to contribute to decision making, and to influence and shape services for women and girls across the city. The Hubs enable the engagement of women and girls, those working with women and girls and the wider women’s sector, to drive forward the priorities set by women and girls and to contribute to the vision for Leeds to be ‘The Best City’.
Both Hubs are formally recognised as Leeds Equality Hubs and are members of Leeds City Council’s Equality Assembly. The Women’s Hub was established in March 2017 when members first came together to discuss and agree working priorities, one such being “Women’s Safety” and also to set the aim for Leeds to be “A Woman Friendly City” – the first of its kind in the U.K.
The purpose of this report is to outline the key points of interest and themes from the workshop conversations that took place on the day. There were two questions posed on the day of which a brief summary follows that contains key points and themes as a result of the workshop conversations.
76 people attended on the day.
What are you currently offering Women and Girls in terms of services for their Health and what ideas do
you have to improve those opportunities?
There was a fantastic range of alternative and different activities, services, groups and opportunities shared in this conversation. These ranged from newly established menopause cafés to full organisational gendered services only for women that are based on the aims and objectives of that particular organisation.
One interesting factor was that many of the attendees said that they provided services equally for men and women and that there was no specific gender split, or difference in what they offered; however, they were open to the idea of making some of their services more gendered specific to meet the needs of women in the future.
Many of the gender specific services offered took a tailored approach for women and were flexible around women’s lifestyles, were more accessible and enabled women to feel more comfortable. Many services used a trauma-based approach in their delivery, which was a common theme throughout the event too.
Another theme was a focus on women’s health and wellbeing, not only in the physical and mental sense, but also in a practicable sense where pyjamas, sanitaryware and essentials were offered too.
“Asset Based Community Development” approaches, where there is more of a focus on working with the strengths that the people have was a reoccurring theme in terms of how to do things differently; however, some feedback indicated that this is not gender specific and that perhaps that it should be?
Some attendees shared that they were now taking this approach, which was enabling people to build networks and to provide a more bespoke service, which was seen as a positive change.
All conversations recorded the need to include more (women) services users in what they could do differently, through consultation and design. This was also the main theme when attendees were asked about what they could do differently for future service planning.
When asked about any ideas to improve these services, there were themes on changing the way that they do assessments and for them to be more positive, to ask questions in a different way, so that it felt less of an “interview” and more like a chat with the service users. Some providers already do this, but others thought that this could be an improvement.
Attendees also recognised that they needed to do more in terms of accessibility and providing services that women could easily access. In terms of accessibility they discussed transport, childcare, language support, wider range of times to accommodate working and those who have children and identifying funding to support this.
What are you going to do differently and do you need support to achieve this?
a) Within your workplace
Attendees were asked to focus their next conversation about their workplace and if there was anything that they could do differently to support women and girls. There were many examples of schemes and opportunities already in place across a range of providers, ranging from employers assisted programmes, menopause cafes, breastfeeding and expressing networks and flexibilities, mental health awareness sessions and it was apparent that many of these were embedded in women’s lead/centred organisations.
b) For future service planning
Interestingly the biggest theme to come out of this conversation was the need to engage more men. Of the 76 attendees there were only two male attendees, yet it was promoted as a generic event, so the need to understand this more and to have more male involvement is important.
As mentioned earlier in the report, service user engagement was identified as something they could do differently, especially to understand if they were still meeting service user’s needs. In addition, some attendees talked about providing resources in the future that enable women to access services. Having funding for transport, childcare, language and accessibility purposes.
Many of the attendees stated that they were going to download the report, but in particular the specifics for their own organisation to help them think about how they could change future service planning, but there was minimal response in what support they might need to achieve this.
It was reassuring to hear about so many gender specific initiatives that are taking place across the city that consider the needs of women, but it was also recognised that much more could and will be done.
A disappointing outcome of this event was the lack of engagement from men, which poses the question “Is there a view that the State of Women’s Health Report is just for women only and not for men?”
The main purpose of the report is for everyone to embrace its findings and recommendations and where practicable embed in both organisational and service delivery, design and development.
“If it’s better for Women it’s better for everyone”