International Women’s Day is always a special event for everyone at Baytree. Each year, we like to do something a little different to celebrate the achievements and solidarity of women and girls everywhere.

This year was no exception, with plenty of fun, varied, inspirational activities to take part in.

On Wednesday, March 4th, we took a trip to the Vaults Theatre to see ‘Ride, The Musical’ as part of the Vaults Festival. The all-female show retold the story of 24 year old Annie Londonderry, a Latvian immigrant to the US who, in 1895, became the first woman to cycle around the world. The musical was written and composed by Bottle Cap Theatre, an award winning musical theatre company co-founded by Freya Smith, a former volunteer at Baytree.

Thursday 5th also marked World Book Day. We held a lively interactive storytelling and craft workshop for our girls aged 6 to 11, with parents invited to join them. The session was led by local kids book author and power woman Lucy Reynolds who read her book ‘Hedgehogs Don’t Live In The City’ and got the girls to make their own hedgehog bookmarks.

Continuing with the theme of female authors, Jeannelle Brew, Baytree volunteer and author of the children’s book series ‘Young Adventures’ ran a session based around her book ‘Meet Mya and Family’. The ‘My Young Adventures’ book series intends to teach children about the importance of diversity and inclusivity, and important life lessons around the themes of Family, Self-love, Politics, Career Choices and Money Management.

Baytree’s Women’s Service also held a series of events in celebration of International Women’s Day.

On Tuesday, an employment lawyer from our Place For All Partners, High Trees Community Development Trust, held a session for our Baytree women on employment contracts, rights at work, and what to do if something goes wrong with their jobs – an important session to empower women in the work space.

Then on Thursday, the women were given time out of their busy schedules to get creative. Textiles artist Samiya Younis, who has been working with a group of Baytree women on a weekly basis exhibited their art. Through her workshops Samiya encouraged our women to think about “giving women a voice” and “what Baytree means to them” while making fabrics based art.

The women also got the chance to make their own decorative tote bags. Christina Christofi, Academic Manager and ESOL Tutor at Baytree, says it was the perfect opportunity for the women to take some time out: “Our women really enjoyed the session and found it very therapeutic. A lot of them have hectic schedules and don’t get a lot of time to themselves. One woman told me it was like getting to be child again! If you’ve got a lot of responsibilities, it’s so important to let go and have fun now and again.”

Four women were also presented with certificates for overcoming particular challenges or taking on something they found difficult – and it wouldn’t have been a Women’s Service celebration without a delicious spread of home made foods from around the world, lovingly prepared by the women themselves.

A huge thank you to everyone who helped us to hold a restorative, uplifting week of events.