Kate Blakemore, CEO of Motherwell Cheshire CIO
Bridging the gap in support services for women’s wellbeing across Cheshire
I had a miscarriage in January 2017 and agonised whether to talk about it publicly. My sister said to me that if I didn’t, I wouldn’t be practising what I preached. In my heart, I knew she was right because my life’s work is supporting women. As difficult as it was, I wrote about my loss in a blog – knowing that talking about my own journey always helps others to open up too…
From being very young, I worked in retail management, which I loved; then I had an ectopic pregnancy in 2002. It was a major turning point. I’d always wanted to be a counsellor, so I gave everything up to start again. Initially volunteering, I then got my diploma. I worked as a part-time counsellor at a homeless hostel for women and young children.
By then I was a parent myself and acutely aware of the gap in support services for mothers. I had a traumatic birth with my daughter and my son spent the first two months of his life at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital. I was used to having loads of support from health professionals, so I struggled when he was discharged. Even though I was still counselling, I felt isolated and lost my sense of self – home alone with two children under two.
After a five-year gap, I had my third child in 2012. When Dylan turned one, I took voluntary redundancy and launched my own charity on International Women’s Day 2015. Inspired by my experiences in the homeless sector, our aim is to support mums who have had or are at risk of having their children removed into care.
Motherwell has grown wildly beyond anything I could have dreamt. We have 10 people on the payroll and 17 volunteers – supporting the mental health and wellbeing of women and girls aged 14 years-plus. We’re expanding from Crewe and Winsford into Ellesmere Port next year. Following my miscarriage, we also launched the Cherry Blossom Infant Loss Support Service.
From feeling vulnerable, I’ve become resilient. The strength of women supporting women and celebrating their achievements gets me every day. There’s the image that women are bitchy; my experience has been the opposite.