After a disappointing home education day, we watched Suffragettes confident it would be great as it was presented by Lucy Worsley who we have seen on telly before.. We love history and like myself, my 14 year old daughter is vocal on women’s issues. To his credit, my husband watched the programme with us.

My daughter was quick to declare that in her opinion no major changes in history have happened without at least a degree of violence. Before the programme started, I mooted the point that the Suffragettes could be described as terrorists.

This programme was gripping. We loved how the real words of the key players were used and how Lucy appeared to be amongst them during the action. I also loved a certain glint in her eye almost as if she were encouraging viewers to conspire with her in a cause.

There were of course the suffragists who wrote letters and so on to try to get the vote for women. As Lucy explained how Parliament which was of course male-dominated played silly games to ensure things were not even debated fairly, I can absolutely see how frustration would mount leading to more violent lobbying methods. Why did women want the vote anyway? Well, there is the concept of equality and fairness but there is also the issue that they must have felt women’s lot in life needed to change generally. That makes me empathise with them as clearly so much still needs to be done despite recent changes and a spotlight on the abuse of women for example. Not surprising and very sadly, there were reports of women protestors and sexual assault at the hands of police and others.

So often us feminists are told we are daft and the battles are won. Yet I find it fascinating how little the Suffragette movement was covered in the schools of myself or my daughter. I remember a fancy dress celebration of 100 years of history and only one teacher and my daughter dressed up as Suffragettes.

To my absolute shame, I did not know the Suffragette movement spread across social classes always associating it with rich women. I also thought it began in London and not Manchester. I had no idea so many areas of the UK had Suffragette action.

I also did not know about the build-up of tools of the trade as time went on including bombs and riots.

I loved how skilled and instinctive the Suffragettes were at using marketing methods to present their case from photography to stunts like chaining themselves to railings. In a way they reminded me of how women bloggers have used PR and marketing methods to have their say and to campaign on some pretty vital issues. These are the bloggers I like – the ones who tell it like it is and don’t just keep touting out picture perfect images adding to the mental distress of others.

How the state dealt with these women was appalling and hard to watch particularly the force feeding when they went on hunger strike. The sending in of law enforcement from other areas reminded me so much of seeing those types of buses during the Miners’ Strike in the Eighties. As ever where there are two different viewpoints, the State started getting their message across with their own PR efforts.

My daughter enjoyed the programme but was saddened by the methods employed to try to silence women. She was clearly of the view that Winston Churchill should not longer be viewed as a hero. Her comments included: “There was no need for the Suffragettes if the Government had listened. If asking nicely does not work, you have to resort to more extreme methods for the greater good”

It made me reflect on my work as a blogger and writer. Words, so many words. Perhaps they don’t have a real impact. Perhaps deeds would be better.

So the film made us feel, think and quite possibly change. That makes it a huge success.

The film was written and directed by Emma Frank so I will be looking out for her work again. In fact with the written words by Emma and the delivery of words by Lucy, perhaps I should conclude by saying both words and deeds can make a difference.

So let’s resolve to always ask nicely and then kick ass if and when required.

Forget Love Island and watch on iPlayer https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b0b5y4zg/suffragettes-with-lucy-worsley

The Pramshed
Mum Muddling Through

 

Mummy in a Tutu

 

Winnettes
Twin Mummy and Daddy

Lucy At Home UK parenting blogger

Post Comment Love
ethannevelyn.com

Pink Pear Bear

Cuddle Fairy

I love to feature inspirational women on my blog. I am a big fan of the Granny Butterfly books for children. So I was delighted when children’s author Jean agreed to share her personal story with me.

Children's Author

Early life

I was born on the 14th January 1943 and lived in a small cottage in Stanhill, Lancashire. Most of my father’s wages went into the local Working Men’s Club so my Mother had several jobs to “Make ends Meet”. One of them was to take in sewing, and I used to help her. When I was about 10 years old I made dresses for a little old lady that was as wide as she was tall. She gave me 10 shillings a dress, so that helped the housekeeping. At this time we got a new Headmistress at the village school and the first thing she did was segregate the children in her class so that only the children from rich parents were educated and the ones that she classed as poor were put behind a fire guard. If we tried to escape she stuck pins in us to stop us from getting out. Eventually she was sacked but already the damaged was done. I never caught up to the level I should have been, having missed a year of education.

Teenage years

As a teenager I didn’t have much money so I made all my own clothes. I always stayed in fashion, from tight skirts made in black and white gingham to dresses with lots of net underskirts. The best part of being a teenager in the 50’s and 60’s was the music. Rock and Roll, and of course Elvis. I have wonderful memories!

For my first job I worked in a cotton mill. It wasn’t what I wanted to do as I had been offered a apprenticeship to become a tailor. I was told that I would only get married and have kids so it would be better to start to earn some money.

Marriages

I moved to the Isle of Wight when my first husband who was a Prison Officer was posted to Parkhurst Prison. It took me two years to settle because in those days there weren’t any supermarkets and the corner shops were expensive. I had to go to the mainland to buy the school uniforms for the children.

I married my second husband Roger in May 1982. He already had two daughters and as I had two sons and a daughter we became one big family. Roger also had his own tree felling and fencing business, So I taught myself to type and became his secretary. When the Island was devastated in the 1987 storms we worked all night for weeks to clear all the damage that had been done and I used to take food and drink out to the gangs that were working during the night.

After all the hard work during the storms of 1987 and 1991 Roger developed a heart problem. He was advised by a Cardiologist to sell the business and retire. We already had a villa in Denia, Costa Blanca, so in 1993 we sold our business and retired to Spain. After living there for 18 wonderful years, we thought it was time to come home to be with all the family, which we did in 2011.

Spain

The one thing I loved most about Spain was not only how friendly the people are, but the food is so good and fresh. There is nothing like buying fresh fruit and vegetables from the local market in the street or having a cafe con Leche in the village square.

Writing

I have always loved poetry but never written a book before. A couple of years ago when we were on the beach in Sandown I suddenly said to Roger “I want to write a children’s book”. I think he thought I’d gone crazy, but when I said that I wasn’t sure what animal to use, he straight away said butterflies. Thinking of my Mother, I said “Of course, Granny Butterfly”. That was how I started to write children’s books and my first book I wrote in a week.

Granny Butterfly

I have self published my books using Grosvenor House Publishers, which have helped very much and of course my illustrator Brian has been wonderful and is very talented with the beautiful illustrations he has done.

First and foremost I want children to get off their phones and iPads and see all the wonderful things that nature has to offer them. One of the most wonderful creatures to see are beautiful butterflies fluttering by. As a child I spent most of my time out in the countryside collecting wild flowers and herbs with my Grandmother. There is nothing better for children to do than to get outdoors.

Apart from having my lovely family, the most magical thing that happened was sailing into the wonderful Island of Bora Bora, French Polynesia with the turquoise sea below and after lunch on the beach seeing the leftovers being fed to the stingrays swimming close by.

The one book that I would recommend is The Secret by Rhonda Byrne. I have read it several times and each time I have learned something new about life and it has helped me so much.

The one message I would like to share is that everyone deserves a chance in life whatever their colour, creed or backgrounds. Even though my level of education was very poor, I have still managed to do something that I am very proud of.

Cuddle Fairy
My Random Musings

Helping women is a big part of what I try to do with my blogging. So it is always great to highlight women and particularly those who are improving the life chances of other women. Here is a guest post from Cherry who works for the Renewal Trust in Nottingham.

Women

 

It’s a rare thing these days but I’ve been lucky enough to grow with my job, and watch my family expand at the same time. I started as a Partnership Worker at The Renewal Trust in Nottingham way back in 2002, 16 years ago, and worked my way up as opportunities arose, becoming CEO in 2009.

Family life

I gave birth to my son in 2005, so you could say he’s grown with the charity too. There’s been quite a few additions to the family since then, in the shape of 2 dogs, 23 sheep, 3 alpacas, 2 goats, 8 pigs and 2 cows!

My own experiences have inspired me to try and make The Renewal Trust a great place to work for women (and men!) – at all stages of their lives. There’s this idea that a woman has to be a superwoman, juggling a million things at once, and making it all look effortless. That’s exactly what many do of course, but I wanted to make it as easy as possible for my staff.

On a practical level, the charity offers things like part-time working and flexi-time, so staff can tailor work around other commitments and things that, from time to time, crop-up out of the blue – like the arrival of my triplet lambs this spring! Beyond that, I also aim to have an ‘open door’ policy, where staff can come and talk to me about anything, not just work stuff. I can only support and develop my staff if I know them, and that isn’t just about their role at the Trust.

Adaptability

Our adaptable policies are useful for parents of course, but it’s important to recognise it’s not only parents with young children that need support and flexibility. We all have different responsibilities, needs and wants, throughout our lives, and I really wanted The Renewal Trust to be a place that would enable people to flourish and grow with the organisation – no matter what their situation or point in their employment life.

For example, Ann Rose, who runs our employment support service for local communities, hadn’t worked for many years when she applied for the job in her fifties, because of other commitments. She may not have had qualifications in the usual sense, but she had experience and people skills in abundance, and this has made her the ideal person to work with people in a similar situation – in the neighbourhoods she grew up in.

It’s not just about supporting people with responsibilities like parenting and caring though. Being able to work flexibly is enabling one of our youngest staff, Holly James, to develop her creative aspirations, which in turn is helping her progress in her role at the Trust, working with our arts and culture programme.

Something for everybody

Helping people branch out and have time for other things isn’t just good for individuals, it’s good for the charity too. As a result, many of our staff stay with us for years, just like I’ve done, and we’ve even had people who’ve left or retired, and then chosen to come back, because they know we’ll do our best to support them.

Women

I, like a number of my staff, am also a trustee on other charity boards in Nottingham. I believe I can put some of my learning and experience back into the system, and equally I’m always willing to learn from others!

Best lives

The whole ethos of The Renewal Trust is to help people live their best lives, whatever that means for an individual. We run a range of projects for children, young people and adults, including a project to inspire young people through science; a sports programme that gives children a way to discover different sports from walking age and progress all the way through to a professional level if they want to; and a training and development programme for future leaders, aimed at making leadership in Nottingham more diverse and representative of the communities the city represents.

In today’s climate of austerity and the resulting trend towards ‘poverty porn’ many communities are being unfairly labelled and expected to accept a bare minimum and we work hard to tackle that, celebrating what make each neighbourhood unique and giving people exciting, aspirational opportunities. For example, St Ann’s, an inner-city area of Nottingham, is home of one of the world’s largest urban allotment sites and a wonderful green oasis for people who live locally and beyond. A Grade 2* English Heritage site, it’s also a nationally-important site for wildlife.

Let’s thrive

We believe really strongly that people have the right to thrive, not just survive, and we shape our services around the things people really need and want. For instance, we trained and employed local people as community researchers and worked with Nottingham Trent University to help develop an employment support programme that truly supports people as individuals, with dreams about what they want to achieve, and other commitments and responsibilities, not simply ‘unemployed’.

As we all continue to work for longer, often in multiple careers and roles throughout our lives, it’s going to become more and more important for employers to acknowledge and respect the other things people have going on in their lives, from parenting and caring roles, to hobbies and passions that are great for our health and wellbeing.

It’s great to be in a job where being a mum, a smallholder, a sports lover and all the other things I enjoy, feel valued and included, rather than things I have to keep hidden or juggle in the background.

 

www.renewaltrust.co.uk

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Random Musings

.Recently I have watched Emmerdale on the television and seen how the character Belle is hearing voices. An old friend used to experience this and is one of the most impressive people I know because he used that experience to go on to help others in a kind and caring way. Today I am sharing Molly’s story where she shares generously and openly about what it feels like when you are hearing voices together with  who has supported her over the years and how she now runs Exhale to help other people with mental health difficulties.

Hearing Voices

 

Please tell us a little about your childhood and teenage years

Whenever I think of my childhood I have very conflicting emotions. I was a very lucky child in many ways. I had a very loving family and extended family, I didn’t go without, I got a good education and I had friends.

My mum and dad divorced when I was four. I spent the weekdays with my mum and my 2 older brothers, and the weekends with my dad. When I was little I was worried about house fires, burglary, black holes, carbon monoxide, cancer, my mum leaving and not coming back. I also had voices in my head who were being really mean to me. It took over my life.
At this stage, my relationship with my mum wasn’t very good. I spent most of my childhood angry at my mum for divorcing my dad and leaving him alone. I was angry at her for not spending time with me and for always working. She would be working instead of picking me up from school like the other mums were, she didn’t come to plays or sports days. So I didn’t speak to her about what was going on in my mind because I was adamant she didn’t care. I was too young to understand that she was depressed and only working all those hours to provide for us.
Despite having friends and family, I didn’t tell anyone about how scared of the voices I was or how bad my anxiety was and so it really did start to eat at me and wear me down.
When I look back at my childhood all I really remember is being scared 24/7 and having a voice in my head (I called him Winston) telling me that I wasn’t ever going to be good enough.
Once I hit thirteen, I think things took a real turn for the worse for me.
I was lying and faking illness to get out of school because I was suffering really badly with paranoia. I really believed that people were talking about me in school and I could always hear them whispering. The voice in my head said it was always about me and it terrified me.
I would fake tonsilitis to get out of school. My attendance at middle school was 24%, shockingly low. I never told anyone because I thought they’d be angry at me for lying about being ill, or my friends would laugh at me or tell me that I was being dramatic. I didn’t eat much, I could go for a week or two just eating flapjack or smoothies because the voice in my head made me worry about throwing it up or not being able to swallow.
I felt very alone as a teenager. Despite having good friends and a close family, I felt so alone. I had panic attacks regularly over my health, I’d pull my hair and pick my skin, I barely slept. I had to sleep with my mum a lot just to get a half decent sleep. I felt like I needed to be defined by what people thought of me so if a guy didn’t think I was pretty or someone called me stupid, it really knocked me back.
I didn’t have an ounce of confidence: my nose was too big, my hair was too thin, my boobs were too small, I wasn’t smart enough, I wasn’t funny enough.
I hated school. I never wanted to be there, but nobody ever found out because I had really learnt how to pretend that everything was okay and that I was ‘normal’.
Many people say that they’d love to go back to being a child or a teenager, but I wouldn’t. I wouldn’t do it for a million pounds.
How have your mental health issues affected your life?
I’ve struggled predominantly with health anxiety, paranoia, panic attacks, depression and general anxiety. This has all really had an impact on my education, my relationships and my self-confidence. It has really impacted who I am and how I talk to people. I also have endometriosis, which increases my anxiety quite substantially.
Who supports you?
My family are very good and both my mum and dad have suffered from their own fair share of mental health issues. My dad has panic attacks and worries about his health while my mum suffered from depression and anxiety, so they know and understand how it is. My mum is my safety net, mother and best friend all in one. We’ve gone from having a very poor relationship to being as thick as thieves. She has sat with me through so many panic attacks, listened to me ramble on as I have worried about yet another cancer, and she always answers the phone even if it’s 2 am in the morning. My mum is my rock.
At school, however, I had Ms Duggan. She was the only person who really knew how bad things were for me at 13. She took me under her wing. If the paranoia was too bad, I’d do my work in her office. She’d listen to me every time. She gave me a safe space to go to. I honestly think Ms Duggan is part of the reason why I am still here.
I also have my boyfriend who I met three years ago. He’s my anti-depressant. He drops anything and everything the moment I start to breathe funny. He knows a panic attack is coming before I do or that I’m anxious before I do. Countless nights he has held me as I shake violently from a panic attack. I can cry, scream, throw up, kick and shake so hard that even he is being thrown around, but he stays calm, holds me and does what he knows helps me. He picks up the phone each time and listens to me even if he should be working. Whenever I’m low and refusing to get out of bed, the first thing he says is, “What do you need?”
He has become my safe place. Now, if I’m anxious, I just need to look at him and it helps because I know whatever I’m anxious/panicking about can’t hurt me if he is there. He’ll moan at me for being so cheesy.
Tell us about moving away from home
I studied journalism at London Metropolitan University. It wasn’t easy. I went to a London university to throw me out of my comfort zone. I knew if I stayed in Stoke then I’d never deal with my mental health because I’d always have my safety nets. So I went to London, where I had absolutely no safety net.
It was hard. There were times when, after I had come home for a visit, my mum would have to force me to get on the train as I cried my eyes out. A large problem was when I got to university I didn’t know who I was. I knew I was someone with no confidence and anxiety, but I didn’t know who I was, what I believed in or who I wanted to be. I was very naive. But, I met a bunch of women who were like no women I’d ever met before.
The girls on my university course were ballsy, fierce, opinionated, strong, independent, loud, demanding career women. If they didn’t agree with something, they’d stand right up and say it. They weren’t afraid to argue their point or say what they thought. They weren’t afraid to tell someone when they were wrong. They stood up for themselves. They weren’t afraid to brag about how awesome they were because they knew they were. They weren’t letting themselves be defined by their money, looks, men or what people thought of them. What defined them was their intelligence, their confidence, their sassiness and this sisterhood they had formed with one another.
I remember thinking that’s the type of person I want to be. I didn’t want to be the anxious and paranoid little girl who was too scared to share her opinion and too frightened to stand up for herself. I wanted to be like these girls.
After time, these girls, who are now award nominated journalists or starting their own businesses and using their voices for the greater good, made me realise that I was a lot more like them than I thought and that I didn’t have to be scared to tell the voice in my head to shut up. They reminded me of how brave and strong and empowered I was.
So university, despite being a challenge, was where I found who I was and that helped me immensely when it came to dealing with my mental health.
Have you ever considered suicide?
Suicide is something I only started to talk about recently.
At 14 I was suicidal. I was so tired of being me. I didn’t want to be anymore because it wasn’t fun and I was hurting so much. So I Googled the nicest way to die. I was sure I was doing the right thing, I thought everyone would be better off without me and that I was a hindrance more than I was benefiting anyone.
I made a plan and I was going through with it. I went all the way with my plan and as I started to go through with it the voice in my head told me, and I remember hearing it clear as day, “If you go through with this, your dad will find you and he will never be able to live with it. Just hold on a little bit longer.” It was a shock. Firstly, because it was right and secondly because the voice that had been tormenting me for so long had saved me.
I realised that if I did that to myself then I’d basically be ending my dad’s life too. I didn’t want to do that. I threw myself to the floor and threw up. I was so sad and scared. Stupidly, I pulled on my PJs and went downstairs to my dad with no intention of telling him. He probably wouldn’t believe me, I thought. I should have told him exactly what I was about to do, what I wanted to do and why I stopped. That would have been the smart thing to do.
Instead, I just sat next to him and watched the rest of the film he was watching. I never said a word to anyone about it until six years later. I held on to it. I really wish I hadn’t because I needed help, but I was too scared and embarrassed to ask for it.
What do you think triggered your mental health issues?
I think my mum and dad divorcing really had an impact on me.
I was a really lonely child and spent a lot of time in my own head. I also didn’t know who I was. I was always wanting to know what my purpose was and I didn’t.
I realised at a young age that I wasn’t a partier, a sporty person, a socializing person, an academic person, I wasn’t musical or political. I didn’t know who I was at all.
But, and I think this goes for a lot of young people who are suffering from their mental health issues, the divorce might have triggered the anxiety but not talking about it or getting help for it was like pouring petrol onto a flame. The more I hid it, the more things helped the fire grow and nothing was being done to put it out before it was too late and it had spread throughout my entire life.
How is your life now?
Things are better now than they have ever been before. I’m not cured and I don’t for one second ever think I will be cured of it, but I am happier than ever.
I still have panic attacks, I’m still anxious, but I’m not embarrassed about it. In fact, I will talk about it to anyone. I don’t care anymore. I have been through and dealt with a lot and I no longer look at that as me being weak. In fact, I think I’m pretty f***ing  strong!
I will talk about mental health and my experiences to anyone because I don’t want another young kid to grow up hiding their struggles and fears to the point where they also see no other option than suicide.
I was lucky that I stopped. Not every person in the same situation does. I don’t want a young person to commit suicide because they’re too scared to talk to their parents or embarrassed that kids at school will take the mick because they’re struggling with their mental health. Not having that fear has helped me grow and get more confident in my own mind.
I started hanging around with people who had a positive impact on me. I started standing up for myself. I cut out all the things that I knew were bad for me (alcohol, caffeine, people) and I started working on things that are good for me. I still have my days where I don’t want to get out of bed or eat. I still call my mum in a panic attack because I think I have cancer. I still shout for my boyfriend when I am having a panic attack, I still can’t get on a bus without freaking out but that’s okay. I’m working on it. I’m working on myself and each day I get a little further.
I’m not an anxious person, I’m a person with anxiety.
Describe your work with Exhale
So I started Exhale to help others who might be or have gone through similar things.
I hate how all these charities are saying, ‘We need to talk about mental health!’ abd  ‘we need to feel comfortable talking about mental health like we do physical health”. Yes, we do, but it’s not just enough to say it. People aren’t going to talk about mental health without being given a comfortable and safe place to do so. For most people, talking about their mental health isn’t going to happen overnight. We need to build up their confidence first and get rid of that sense of loneliness. It’s not a switch that we can easily flick on and off whenever we want to. We’re not going to talk so openly about mental health when there still isn’t a viable environment to do so. That’s like saying, ‘We all need to go plastic free!”. Yes, we do, but nobody will go plastic-free if they aren’t given viable plastic-free options to do so.
Exhale was formed to do that. I run completely free day events dedicated to mental health in all forms. They’re family-friendly and accessible to everyone.
Our slogan is ‘shattering stigma” | building communities’. We encourage people to listen to as many talks as possible. We invite them to talk to one another and make friends. We encourage them to get talking, even if it is to a stranger. At our events, when someone says ‘I understand what you’re going through’ they truly do mean it. Our attendees have got such sad back stories and yet they’re all determined to help other people first. So Exhale brings them together in one space to help one another and it works.
At our last event, one woman said she had never said ‘I am depressed’ to anyone before, but she said it to a stranger that day. She didn’t say anything else, but she didn’t need to. She had taken the step to talking about mental health and that’s fantastic.
Charities, GPs, therapists are helping to shatter the stigma and helping people cope with their mental health, but I truly believe that when all is said and done, the best help will come from the communities who have been through it and are fighting their anxiety, depression, eating disorder, PTSD, OCD, paranoia, BPD, pack attacks, BDD, schizophrenia on a daily basis.
You see it already, there are large communities on Twitter of people who are dealing with all sorts of mental health issues helping one another. One of them might Tweet, “I’m feeling really anxious today, don’t want to get out of bed.” And they’ll get a quick response of, “You can do it. You’ve done it before. I do this when I feel like you do…” It’s amazing. It’s strangers coming together and building support networks.
What would you do if Exhale had funding?
If Exhale had more funding our events would be bigger and we’d move around the country running them. We want to be huge and most of all, we want it to stay free. Nobody. should pay to talk about mental health.
What would you say to a woman who has a spark of an idea but lacks confidence?
 If you believe in something so much, do something about it. We’ve all got the power to make a difference. Whether you do something little or you go all out and do something huge, do something.
What book would you recommend to another woman?
The Chimp Paradox – an amazing book. You learn a lot about the mind with that book.
Huge thanks to Molly for sharing her story so courageously and telling it as it is. This young woman will move mountains one baby step at a time and I look forward to following her journey.
My Random Musings
JakiJellz
The Pramshed

Escaping the rat race is something we all dream of from time to time. It takes an idea followed by action. It really is as simple as that although negative self-talk can stop that dream coming true. I hope you are inspired by Melissa’s story of leaving PR to pursue a dream in Africa. You could say she just dived in to a whole new life!

Rat Race

 

Tell us about your job and why you decided to make a lifestyle change

I’d been living and working in central London for nearly 10 years and – on the most part – absolutely loving it. It’s a vibrant city with so much going on and I’ve always enjoyed my job as a PR consultant and, more recently, a freelance journalist too. There are lots of different aspects involved in PR but, in a nutshell, I work with organisations to advise on their communications strategy and help them tell their story to the press.

My career has been pretty varied and, over the years, I’ve done everything from promoting new ice cream launches (yes, I spent a day visiting journalists in an ice cream van and, yes, it was fabulous!), organising celebrity interviews and red carpet photo shoots, raising awareness of charity fundraisers, responding to a crisis when something goes wrong, writing press releases about complicated travel technology developments, organising events and hosting journalists on press trips – and pretty much everything else you can think of in between.

People often comment that my job sounds really glamorous – and parts of it can be – but what goes on behind the scenes is far from glam: the long hours (at one point I was looking after 13 accounts), challenging clients, demanding journalists and tight deadlines mean stress levels are through the roof a lot of the time.

I knew I was at risk of burnout and, after just short of a decade in the city, I needed a change. With friends moving further out of the city and settling down to start a family, London was becoming more and more isolating. Plus, I absolutely hate the cold!

Being a scuba diver, I’ve always been drawn to the ocean and love spending time by the coast. I’ve often thought about relocating but usually just attributed it to “holiday blues” and there was always something keeping me in London: a job, a relationship, an upcoming promotion. Finally, last year, I decided to trust my gut and make the move – and it’s all fallen into place since then!

 How did it feel when you relocated?

 I’ve only been out here in Mozambique for two weeks so it’s all still pretty new but I’m really happy I made the decision to relocate. Since I decided to move to Africa, I’d been waiting for that “this is crazy – what am I doing?” moment to strike but it wasn’t until I was on the overnight flight to Maputo that it hit. I’d been so busy planning my trip that it hadn’t really sunk in that I was moving to a new country on my own. The nerves quickly passed, though, as it was something I’d been thinking about for a while and I knew deep down I was making the right decision for me.

Strangely, since I arrived, I’ve found I settled really quickly and already feel at home. The team has been really welcoming and it’s such a small town that you’re almost guaranteed to bump into a familiar face when you pop to the market, which makes a nice change from the Big Smoke!

 What are the joys?

 There’s something so wonderful about living by the ocean. I can nip down to the beach for a quick swim before work, go diving at the weekend or just sit and watch the sunset and chill. While we’re all working hard, I’ve got a much healthier work-life balance and I’m already feeling the stress of London life melting away.

The other joy is being able to help a cause so close to my heart: protecting our oceans. The Marine Megafauna Foundation – where I’m volunteering – is doing some really interesting work in the marine conservation sphere. As well as their research into ocean giants such as whale sharks and manta rays, they’re working with the local community to reduce unsustainable fishing practices and inspiring the local school children to protect the ocean by teaching them about marine conservation and running swimming lessons. Community engagement is vital here and it’s so interesting to meet some of the locals who are spearheading a change in behaviour.

There’s a lot to learn about the projects that are going on here but I’m excited to be able to help them shout about the incredible work they’re doing and make a real difference. It’s such a rewarding way to use my skills and expertise.

 What are the challenges?

 Life is very different here, of course: there’s no ATM in our town so you have to travel into the nearest city to get cash out and if there’s a storm we could lose power and internet for a day (which would have sent my London office into absolute chaos). I’ve found the easiest way to adapt is to just roll with things because there’s no point getting stressed about something you can’t change! In Mozambique, you definitely have to be ready to adapt to difficulties outside of your control.

How did you find the volunteering opportunity and what attracted you to it?

 This role came up quite organically for me. I’d been thinking for some time about “quitting the rat race” and moving abroad but wasn’t sure where I’d go, what to do or even whether I’d want to leave PR altogether. Thinking he’d probably never reply, I took a punt and emailed MMF’s Co-Founder, Dr. Simon Pierce, for some advice and amazingly heard back from him not only with advice but with the opportunity to come to Mozambique and help the charity with its Comms. I was interviewed by the CEO and Mozambique’s Country Director before officially being offered the role.

As a scuba diver, finding an opportunity that let me use my PR expertise to help a cause I really care about (while living by the ocean, no less!) was a dream come true for me and, of course, I jumped at the chance.

Rat Race

 

MMF does advertise its vacancies too and we rely on volunteers from various different backgrounds from  research to accountancy, marketing and business development. If anyone is interested in the possibility of joining our team, you can take a look at our current positions here: https://marinemegafaunafoundation.org/volunteer-positions/.

If you have escaped the rat race and would like to share your story, please do get in touch.

Mudpie Fridays