A WEEKEND FOCUSING ON THE BLACK EXPERIENCE OF CHILDLESSNESS
FACILITATED BY YVONNE JOHN
There is life after childlessness, despite what the media, your friends, your mother and your inner bitch would have you believe! A meaningful and fulfilling life that makes sense to you because you custom-made it for yourself.
This BME Reignite Weekend is for you if you’re:
- A black or mixed-race involuntarily childless woman;
- A woman who wanted to have children but it didn’t work out for any reason: infertility, didn’t meet partner, partner didn’t want (more) children, chronic illness, family disapproval, race, religous or cultural issues, badly timed breakup, etc, etc… There are so many ways this can happen;
- Struggling with relationships with your friends and family as ‘the odd one out’;
- Wondering where your mojo went and where the hell to start looking for it!;
- Lonely and confused about your place in society when all you can see around you are mothers and families;
- Knowing that you need to make some changes to your life but feeling too tired, sad & uninspired to know what to try next;
- Worried about growing old without children;
- Furious that you ‘did all the right things’ and have ‘ended up’ like this!
This BME Reignite Weekend is led by Yvonne John, who has been trained personally by Jody Day, the founder of Gateway Women.
Yvonne is the author of “Dreaming of the Life Unlived: Intimate Stories and Portraits of Women Without Children” (2016) and has appeared on numerous radio and television programmes to talk about her experience of recovering from the devastating grief of involuntary childlessness. She blogs about this at Finding My Plan B. A graduate of the 2016 Gateway Women year long Plan B Mentorship Programme, Jody personally invited Yvonne to lead the Reignite Weekend for BME women having come to understand through many conversations together that there are unique aspects to the black experience of childlessness that would be better served in a dedicated BME environment. Yvonne works in the medical services industry and is also a talented photographer. She lives in Luton with her husband. You can contact her directly on firstname.lastname@example.org
Over the course of the Reignite Weekend you will:
- Unpick the assumptions that the culture has about motherhood (and non-motherhood) and let go of what doesn’t ‘fit’ you;
- Explore what is unique and what is universal about the BME woman’s experience of involuntary childlessness;
- Look at where you are holding onto unhelpful ideas and shame about the the life choices you’ve made (and the non-choices too) which have led you to ‘ending up’ without the family you hoped for;
- Explore and express unresolved grief about your childlessness; grief which our society neither acknowledges, understands nor allows (and consequently neither do we, sometimes);
- Reexamine the dreams and goals you had for your life before you became convinced that having a baby was the only thing that mattered;
- Reignite your passion for your life, and and start thinking what your ‘Plan B’ might be for a meaningful and fulfilling life without children;
- Meet your new tribe – other wonderful, powerful, wise and funny Nomos (not-mothers). There are more of us than you realise and we’re not the bunch of ‘weeping weirdoes’ you might fear! In fact, we’re a pretty amazing and courageous bunch of women…
After the workshop and into the future
The bonds that are made during the Reignite Weekend are very special and most women wish to take those friendships forward as they integrate the learning and healing from the weekend into their daily lives. As many of us have experienced, one of the unexpected and unsettling side effects of unchosen childlessness is that we may lose the easy connection we once had with a large part of our peer group as our friends move to a country called ‘motherhood’ where we can’t follow and will never fully speak the language. Having new childless friends to plug the gap can make coping with our situation not only more tolerable, but actually fun again! It also makes it easier to keep our friendships going with our ‘mum friends’ because we’re not so bent out of shape with a combination of resentment, jealousy and boredom around them… As the weekend draws to a close, we’ll facilitate ways to organise ongoing contact with each other, should you wish that.
More details and to book
- When: Saturday 28th and Sunday 29th April 2018
- Times: 9.30am – 5pm
- Cost: £295 Earlybird (by 23rd February), £350 full price after. Places bookable with £125 deposit (which also reserves the Earlybird price). All balances due on/before 23rd February. Once you have reserved your place, Yvonne will be in touch to arrange your payment method – either PayPal or direct bank transfer. If you wish to contact Yvonne about payment methods please email her directly at email@example.com
- Lunch & Breaks: Lunch will roughly 1-2pm both days and is not provided but there are plenty of places nearby and you can also take a refreshing walk in Regents Park which is right outside the venue. We’ll also take a morning and afternoon break of 15 mins.
- Where: Park Crescent Conference Centre, International Students House, 229 Great Portland Street, London, W1W 5PN (30 seconds from Great Portland Street tube station) Click here for map and transport information.
- Accommodation: As you are attending an event at Park Crescent Conference Centre you are able to book a room at International Students House, where the conference centre is situated (normally only open to students). It’s very basic, simple student-style B&B accommodation, some with shared bathrooms. Ask for a room NOT above the bar if you are a light sleeper. Click here to arrange accommodation. Another affordable option is the Quaker run B&B The Penn Club, about 15-mins walk away. If you don’t mind a 5-stop London Underground Tube journey to the workshop, the London Central City Road Travelodge (which is based in the ‘City’ Financial District) has very affordable rooms (around £50) at the weekend. This is when the area is very quiet but ask for an upper floor room facing the Inner Courtyard for maximum quietness. You can also find very affordable and central rooms to stay in on AirBnB
- How to book: click here to book
- How Many Women: In order to create an intimate and safe atmosphere, the workshop is restricted to 12 women only.
- Who is the BME Reignite Weekend for? Black or mixed-race women of any age, partnered or solo, who wanted to have children and for some reason, it didn’t work out. If you’re keen to move forward and create a meaningful and fulfilling life without biological children, it’s for you. You are also welcome to attend any other Reignite Weekend should you wish, although Yvonne’s weekend will be the only one with a special focus on the the black experience of childlessness.
- What is the cancellation policy? Your £125 deposit is non refundable. If you cancel prior to 28th March you may request a refund of any payments made (minus your deposit). After that date, we can only refund your payments (minus your deposit) if we can resell your spot.
- Any other questions please contact Yvonne John directly: firstname.lastname@example.org. Alternatively, you can contact GWs Community Manager, Helen: email@example.com or Jody herself on firstname.lastname@example.org
Some feedback from women who’ve taken part in previous Reignite Weekends:
It was such a supportive and brilliant course – so great to meet and share time with other Gateway Women, and it allowed me to challenge myself and see my way forward to my Plan B. (Tilly, 48)
I can’t describe the massively positive effect finding GW and attending a Reignite Weekend has had on my outlook, my life, my relationships, my ability to smile at babies and their mums again! (Kate, 43)
After getting to a very low point I thought I’d try the workshop. It was a great weekend. Just having the chance to think and explore my feelings with likeminded people was so helpful. (Leila, 39)
The course was excellent; well structured, clear and relevant and which helped me to understand the trauma I’ve been struggling though after finding out that we can’t have children. I met some amazing women on the course whose stories of facing difficulties with so much dignity and courage will stay with me. Thank you for giving me hope. (Janet, 47)
I attended the Reignite Weekend and I wholeheartedly recommend it. If you are feeling unsure about whether to go, I would say definitely do it. You will be in safe hands and in a very safe environment, sharing with other Gateway Women really helps and the exercises really get you thinking – in a good way. (Laura, 42)
I have been stuck in grief for a long time that hasn’t been shifting. [The weekend] helped me to understand exactly what I was feeling and why. Home now – I feel lighter, more positive and more gentle inside than I have felt for ages (Becky, 52)
It was amazing to realise I wasn’t alone, other women shared the pain, anguish, fear that I did, each with their unique story and each wanting their life to move on, but not sure how or where. I took the plunge and signed up for the workshop not knowing what to expect, or if it “was my sort of thing” – and it was the best thing I could have done. (Kristian, 42)
I attended this weekend with some ‘butterflies’ but it’s ended up being one of the best things I could have done. I’m more equipped than before I attended the event for moving on and getting to grips with my plan B. Best thing though was meeting the other Gateway Women and seeing I’m not alone… (Faye, 41)