DivaManc Switch-On:From ideas to actions

DivaManc Switch-On, Connecting women and their ideas for a brighter DevoManc, 10 November

It was wonderful to see so many women at our 'DivaManc Switch-On' event on 10 November and thank you to Liz Jayne for facilitating the Open Space so beautifully.

The use of Open Space was a new experience to most who came, and takes many people out of their comfort zone. Thank you to all who participated for trusting in us and in the system. We purposefully chose the format because of the way it encourages those present to take ownership of the agenda and responsibility for both their experience and the session outcomes. When leaving a number of women commented specifically on how 'inclusive' it felt and 'empowering'. All feedback, both on what worked and what didn't work for you, is welcomed so do please share your own experience with us in whatever way suits you. We are deliberately looking to use different formats for all the DivaManc sessions so women can experiment with different ways of collaborating. Please pass on anything you've previously found useful.

Heres a quick video from the evening which helps capture the essence of the event.

Sisters are doin' it for themselves....!

In true DivaManc spirit, it was great to see how each group started to turn their ideas into proposed actions, of all shapes and sizes, and to take on roles and responsibilities for taking forward. Key themes have also by added to the website for people who couldn't make the event and would like to get involved.

As agreed, the full set of action sheets are below, together with the contact details for each named point of contact:

  • Why is MCR 3rd worst place to live for Teenage Girls in the UK and what can we do about it? Lindy

  • Mental Health, Carmel

  • Valuing Care, Lesley

  • Work and Income, Carolyn

  • Intergenerational Women's Project, Poland

  • Tackling Isolation, Lillian

  • Increasing women's representation at the highest levels in political structures, Grace

  • Media and promoting women in the Northern Powerhouse, Nicole

  • Women's Services, Michelle

  • Transport - safe, reliable, cheap ways for women to get around, DivaManc team

  • Women in Brexit negotiations, Diane

  • Women's return to work, Dena

  • BAME inclusion, Amna

  • Starting conversations, Elaine

Sheets from the day

Next steps - 10 Ps

  1. Don't wait for permission

  2. Be guided by your passion

  3. Speak to people & include them

  4. Be purposeful

  5. Design in pleasure & play

  6. Build on the positives

  7. Grow women's power

  8. Let us know of any problems

  9. Share your progress

  10. And ask for any help you need, please!

Strength in our collaboration and actions

I arrived at the session that cold wet Thursday evening feeling rather bruised and shaken by Trump's electoral victory. I suspect I wasn't alone. In the words of Tony Morrison, 'This is precisely the time when artists go to work. There is no time for despair, no place for self-pity, no need for silence, no room for fear. We speak, we write, we do language. That is how civilizations heal...'

I can't speak for others in the room but seeing the energy in the room grow over the course of the two hours and women plotting with purpose and passion, did feel healing, creative (as opposed to destructive) and gave me strength.

And that force has stayed with me since, emboldening me to step forward, speak out and take action in other scenarios when I may otherwise have just looked on in quiet discomfort. And for all of that I want to say thank you!

From the conversations I've had over the last week, one thing in particular has struck - our need as women to strive for power not perfection. So with that in mind I encourage you to look to ways to pump other women up, to build strength in our collaboration and to celebrate each little step and contribution not matter how imperfect.

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