International Women’s Day with Joules & Mental Health Mates

This International Women’s Day, we’ve teamed up with our friends at Mental Health Mates, a network of peer support groups, to share how we connect with, celebrate and uphold the women in our communities. Together, we are inviting you to #AskAMate, connecting you with the incredible women in your life. Be it asking a mate for a walk, a coffee or a chat – we want to encourage the community to reach out and connect with the women they care about. 

We caught up with some inspiring women across both the Joules and Mental Health Mates teams to discover how they champion mental health for women, and who they’re going to be reaching out to this International Women’s Day.

Bryony Gordon
Mental Health Mates Founder

1. What is your top tip on checking in and supporting the women in your life?

When I check in with people, I let them know that there’s no need to reply… so many of the women in my life are super busy, and massively overwhelmed, so I’m conscious of not adding to that burden. I let them know I’m thinking of them, but that there’s absolutely no pressure to respond. I see it as dropping a nice comment randomly into their day.

Which special woman will you be reaching out to and connecting with today?

I’m going to mostly spend it telling my 9-year-old how awesome she is! I can’t think of a better way to spend International Women’s Day.

Nicky Bliss
Joules People Director

1. What steps have Joules taken to ensure employee mental wellbeing is a top priority? ?

This is such a timely question! I am just about to sign off our communication plan for the year which includes lots of events specifically planned to support both physical and mental wellbeing. Connection is incredibly important to us at Joules and we spend our time promoting the benefits of the beautiful countryside and coastal areas of Great Britain for our customers and also for our colleagues. We partner with Mental Health Mates to encourage getting outside into the fresh air and connecting with friends, old and new. We often organise walks from our offices & stores and use them as the basis for lots of our wellbeing events e.g. we have an IWD walk with some of our senior female leaders coming up and we’ve just completed the Princes Trust Future Steps challenge which saw us competing for the most steps per team throughout February (with over 3m steps underfoot!). We’re always on the lookout for new ideas to promote mental wellbeing and we encourage our teams to get involved as much as possible.

Which special woman will you be reaching out to and connecting with today?

As the only woman in a house with three boys (and a dog!) I take every opportunity I can to connect with my female friends, all of whom inspire me in some way or another. I’ll be meeting my girlfriends on International Women’s Day to have dinner and plan a very special celebration for one of our number who has made the decision to leave corporate life behind and downsize to the coast – what could be more inspiring than that!?

Laura Bridlington
Mental Health Mates Walk Leader

Laura Walk Leader

How has connecting with other women in the Mental Health Mates community helped you?

Connecting with other women in the MHM community has helped me a lot. I have made new friends from meeting other East Riding walk leaders Kerry (Driffield) & Rachel (Hornsea). We are all supportive of one another and all try to make it to each other’s walks when we can. Clare (Beverley) is an inspiration and someone I turn to professionally and personally, not only is she a fellow MHM walk leader and colleague, she is also a friend. I wouldn’t be where I am with my walks if it wasn’t for Clare and her support. I’d also like to thank Jess & Ella for their continued support.

Before starting the walks, I had not heard of Bryony Gordon, she is a great inspiration and role model to women. I have some of her books and love her sense of humour.

Which special woman will you be reaching out to and connecting with today?

On International Women’s Day I will be checking in not only with other walk leaders, but also the women who come along to my walks. We have a nice little group and I have made new friends and connections. I have my friend Kirsty who started coming on my walks to support me and for her own mental health and now she is involved in MHM Bridlington, helping and supporting me. She recently attended a Time to Talk event at Bridlington Hospital in my place as I was ill and she did amazingly, promoting the walks not only in Bridlington, but the other East Riding walks and MHM generally.

Also, a shout out to my mum who comes along and supports me on my walks, I don’t think I could have done this without her support as well. The walks and the group also help her as well, as she enjoys walking and connecting with people.

Anna Donoghue
Joules Director of Merchanidising &
Mental Health First Aider

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How do Mental Health First Aiders help to nurture a positive working environment for women?

In the role of Mental Health First Aiders, we are trained to spot where people might be struggling with their mental health, listen to them and communicate in a non-judgemental manner and offer support and information. As a working woman myself, I often empathise with other working women. It can be extremely difficult to juggle high-pressure jobs with life outside of work and it is understandable that, at points particularly where something unexpected may happen in life, it can all become too much to juggle successfully. Sometimes women need a reminder that it’s ok to not be super-human and to give yourself permission to put yourself first. It doesn’t have to be a huge amount of time but self-care is so important to re-charge the batteries once in a while. But it often the ‘thing’ that I see women sacrificing when they’re over-stretched, often leading to burn-out and worsening mental health conditions. A 30 minute walk by yourself, a break from the desk to have a cuppa, unwinding with a bath or a book – all can do wonders to help the constantly ‘switched on’ feeling – and trust me, you’ll be a better worker/mum/wife/partner/friend/family member (and all the other multiple ‘hats’ you wear) as a result!

Which special woman will you be reaching out to and connecting with today?

I’ll be having lunch with my wonderful sister today. I’m hoping to be able to remind her how brilliant she is and let her know that I’m always here for her. 

Emma Campbell
Mental Health Mates Ambassador

Emma Campbell

How do you celebrate the special women in your life?

I celebrate the women in my life by never holding back in telling them how appreciated they are, how resilient and strong and powerful they are and how much I cherish their love and friendship.

Which special woman will you be reaching out to and connecting with today?

I’ll be reaching out to many of the women in my life – reminding them of their own brilliance and potential. And, that we’re so lucky to have each other.

1 Comment

  • Mrs. Tina HOFF

    08.03.2023 at 06:46 Reply

    I have recently moved back to the UK after many years living abroad. Friends I have made overseas are now scattered all over the world so keeping in touch can sometimes be a challenge. I have always thought of myself as strong and resilient but when I miss the regular contact with my friends it can make you feel sad. I have found a brisk walk or a cup of tea and good book can put the energy back into my soul. Good friends are invaluable they keep you whole. Keep up the good work. Happy International Women’s Day.

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