We are celebrating the Derry Well Women 30th anniversary this year, starting with a special AGM event on Thursday 7th June.  The Mayor of Derry and Strabane is also hosting a civic reception on 13th June at the Guildhall, to mark this special anniversary.

“We are proud of the contribution we have made to women’s health over the past 30 years,” says DWW manager Susan Gibson. “Since 1988, Derry Well Women has been committed to a social justice approach to addressing health inequalities for women.”

“We advocate on behalf of women and take action on issues which affect women’s health, such as being a mother, coping with cancer or other serious illnesses, breastfeeding, mental health and caring for others. We understand that women are usually the primary carers in the home but often neglect to look after themselves. We also understand that health is about more than medical treatment. We look at the whole of a woman’s wellbeing, including their mental and emotional health.”

“To meet these broader needs, we run courses and programmes covering everything from cancer recovery, to healing therapies, from self-esteem to yoga and baby reflexology. And we offer creche facilities to help mother’s access our courses.”

Susan says the centre covers 5 main areas of work: “We support women living with cancer with our Well Programme, cancer counselling, a support group and counselling for relatives. Our 8-week Well Programme has had a hugely positive impact on those who have taken part.”

“We promote positive Mental Health through counselling, anxiety and depression programmes and mindfulness classes. We support Mother’s & Babies with ante natal classes, with support groups on breastfeeding and post natal depression, and courses like baby massage and paediatric first aid.”

“We promote self-care and self-improvement for women with e.g. reflexology, podiatry, therapeutic singing. And we offer specialist support on issues such as eating disorders, living with MS and trauma counselling.”

Derry Well Women started as an idea among a group of friends who weren’t happy with the care they received. “We began to dream about developing a women’s health centre,” says Susan, who was a founding member.  “Our door on Queen Street opened in November 1988 and that dream has become a reality over the succeeding years.”

Susan says the centre has taken an innovative approach to health inequality for women. “We were the first to provide generic, woman centred free counselling in Derry. We were to the fore in the development of community-based services for cancer and for eating disorders services. We provide the only of menopause clinic here and we support women directly affected by the Troubles.”

“Derry Well Women was the first Third Sector organisation to lead a cross border, cross sector, network of organisations committed to action to reduce health inequalities.  This resulted in the publication of “Levelling Up”, Ireland’s first cross border plan for Social Inclusion.”

“Derry Well Women has created and continues to provide pioneering programmes such as The Well Programme for women living with cancer, Minding Your Mind for women with early onset dementia, and Namaste – a programme for carers of end of life dementia patients.”

“Over 30 years, we have been there for times of change and we have led change. The current economic climate has brought devastating change to and challenges for women generally and for the women’s sector in Ireland.  In this Derry Well Women’s 30th Anniversary year, we will continue to meet these challenges and we have set out our vision for the next 3 years in our new Strategic Plan 2018-2021.”