All of us at Release Counselling and Therapy for Women would like to wish you a very Happy Christmas and thank you for all your support over the last year.
Release Counselling and Therapy for Women CIO is a small UK registered charity, working to improve the mental health of women in Sussex, reduce isolation, and empower women to bring about changes in their lives. We provide 1-2-1 counselling and therapeutic groups and workshops in Brighton & Hove, for women from all walks of life.
For many of us 2021 has continued to be a very difficult year, but as we come to the close of the year, we reflect with gratitude that we have been able to support over 400 individuals this year through our groups, workshops and 1-2-1 counselling.
Here is some of what we have been doing as a Charity:
During 2021, the demand for our 10-week Mummyshock postnatal group tripled, and we have run 8 groups over the course of the year, supporting over 190 new mums and their babies! We navigated lockdown by moving onto Zoom, but as a mental health support group for new mums, we were granted exemption from restrictions, and most of our groups have met face to face with covid safety protocols in place. For many mums the group has been a lifeline, and shared experiences of isolation, increased mental health concerns, lack of support and few places to turn to for help, have seen our referrals soar.
Mummyshock helps new mums navigate the emotional transition to becoming a mum, through meeting weekly to normalise and discuss the changes that they are facing. The group also aims to facilitate peer-to-peer support, and many of the groups continue to meet and have contact after the 10-weeks end.
During 2021, 100% of mums who attended Mummyshock agreed that they would recommend the group to other mums.
Feedback from the groups showed improvements in new mums’ confidence, sense of connection to others, and coping skills, across the board.
This is what one Mum said about her experience at Mummyshock:
“It sounds a bit melodramatic, but attending Mummyshock was a life changing experience for me. As a doctor, I’ve signposted plenty of patients to support groups without fully understanding the immense value they can have. I suffered from postnatal anxiety after my son was born, which was not severe enough to require support from mental health services, but significant enough to leave me feeling isolated and struggling. Over the ten-week course I had the privilege of hearing from and sharing the experiences of an incredible group of women. Each session provided a space for me to be open and honest and carve out some emotional nurturing for myself that just wasn’t possible in the rest of the week. It was so reassuring to hear that I wasn’t alone in my far-from-perfect experience of motherhood, and it gave me the confidence to start processing and articulating how I was feeling to those around me. I feel incredibly fortunate to have had the opportunity to do Mummyshock…I truly feel that the groups offer a unique and essential space for women who would otherwise fall through the cracks of the formal support available…I really hope you can continue to offer as many groups as possible as all women with babies deserve to have this experience.”
To find out more or to register your interest in attending a future Mummyshock group, email [email protected]
Circle of Security Parenting Groups
This year we also launched Circle of Security Parenting Groups, as a next step to our Mummyshock groups. The course gives parents a map to understand their babies and children’s emotional needs and a space to reflect on their own strengths and struggles as parents. Seven mums took part in the pilot, and this is what they had to say:
“It’s really given me a solid foundation to feel confident and open when my child has big feelings. I feel prepared to handle his needs and know that I need to work on looking for cues from him. At the start of the course I was terrified of his tantrums and would completely withdraw, now my arms are open and I know its OK for me to time out so I can be ready to help him.”
“The content really helped me to be a more informed parent and the supportive space that the facilitators provided was very beneficial to my wellbeing.”
To find out more or to register your interest in attending a future circle of security group, email [email protected]
During Lockdown in 2021, we provided opportunities for new mums to connect and meet for support, whilst in isolation by running a series of Virtual Coffee mornings on Zoom. Each session provided opportunity to chat with other mums, and access bite-sized therapeutic techniques and self-care exercises to bolster mum’s wellbeing in the pandemic. This is what people said:
“It was brilliant. Great content. Took a lot from it. Thank you.”
“Thank you so much for this session. It was lovely to be able to chat to other Mums and try something new.”
“Such a great idea and was lovely to have that space and time with other mums.”
To find out more or to register your interest in attending a future mums MOT, email [email protected]
Women’s Wellbeing Days
In 2021, we were successful in receiving funding from Sport England to begin to run a monthly wellbeing day for women set in nature, focusing on self-care and movement to nourish women’s bodies and minds, and help build community within our Charity. We have run 6 sessions so far, in a variety of locations including Plot 22, Yellow Wave, and we are looking forward to running some sessions at Stanmer Park wellbeing gardens and Rock Farm in 2022. Some days are women-only, and some days are Mum & baby days. If you have a therapeutic or creative skill you would like to share with other women on these days, please do get in touch
To find out more or to register your interest in attending a future women’s wellbeing retreat day, email [email protected]
We continue to provide time-limited counselling for women from all walks of life, from our team of trainee therapists on Placement. If you are interested in receiving counselling, or are a counsellor who would like to volunteer their time please email us at [email protected]
Plans for 2022
In addition to continuing and growing all our existing work, we also have plans to launch new groups for second-time Mums and to run Mum’s MOT sessions for same-sex couples. More details on both these groups, and our existing activities will be shared throughout the year.
One year ago, we transitioned from being a non-profit company to becoming a fully-fledged registered Charity! Release founder, Ellen Baldwin was appointed as CEO, and we now have a brilliant team of employed group facilitators – Rachael, Ana, Lucy, Lucille, Kate and Abby. We also have a great Board of Trustees overseeing the Charity.
We are also recruiting for the role of Therapy Administrator, which will be to undertake all administrative tasks required to ensure the smooth running of our 1-2-1 counselling, group programme and our workshops. Please see our website if you are interested!
You can get involved with Release in many different ways, by attending our groups, volunteering your time and by fundraising to ensure our vital services continue to support women at this challenging time.
If you’d like to volunteer at one of our events, or if you’re a qualified therapist who would like to other your expertise, please email us at [email protected] Your help will be very welcome!
Release is a funded by donations from the community and small community grants, to ensure that all our services are free or heavily subsidised. If you have benefited from attending a group, or would like to support future groups, please consider making either a one off or regular donation to our work. You can donate by clicking here https://www.justgiving.com/releaseforwomen
Alternatively, we’d love you to consider taking up a fundraising challenge during 2022. This might be running a 5K following the birth of your baby, running a coffee morning or event etc. We’d also love to find ways to support new mums to become active after childbirth, whilst also raising money to support our work. If this is something you’d like to do, or want to help others regain fitness, you can set up a fundraising page on JustGiving or email us for more information on [email protected]
Main website: www.releaseforwomen.org.uk
Project website: www.mummyshock.org.uk
With our love and best wishes,