How being a doula has improved my work on inclusivity in the arts

By Katie Beardsworth, Founder and Director, Polyphony Arts

I trained to be a volunteer doula in 2018.

For those of you who don’t know what a doula is (as I didn’t, until I was introduced to the concept after my son was born), it is a birth companion who supports women through pregnancy, birth, and postnatally.

Goodwin Doula and Breastfeeding Support Service

My doula training took place with the fantastic Goodwin Doula Project in Hull. The training is the equivalent of an A level; the eye-opening training topics including pre- and post- natal support, birth support including vaginal and C-section births, breastfeeding, safeguarding, domestic abuse awareness, FGM awareness, and many other things.

I went into the training considering it to be completely separate from my working life, and seeing no relevance to a career in arts management; this was about my personal development, and a desire I had to be a volunteer supporting families going through the life-changing experience of having a baby.

However, the training gave me an unparalleled (in my experience) insight into the makeup of society (especially in Hull, my home town) and the various issues that people could be facing at any time. The Doula Project deals with vulnerable women across the full range of social, economic, racial, and health backgrounds, and I had my eyes opened to the huge range of factors that might (among other things) prevent someone from accessing the arts.

I always considered myself to be understanding of the challenges that people face, and I was certainly sympathetic, but in order to write about this experience, I have to acknowledge that I was definitely in my own bubble of experience; I think we all are, to varying extents, and acknowledging this is important.

Goodwin Doula and Breastfeeding Support Service

I used my new understanding to write a successful funding bid for funds to re-structure Hull Chamber Music, in order to allow them to offer considerate and appealing chamber music offerings to people from all the social backgrounds found in Hull, and not just those of a certain economic and educational background.

The funding has lead to a new vision for HCM, and a new long-term strategy for offering inclusive chamber music to as many people from Hull and the surrounding area as possible.

We launch their new season this Friday, 23 August, and I am incredibly proud of this work; it is a real career highlight for me, and we’re only just getting started!

Have you had an experience of training in one aspect of your life affecting another? Did it surprise you?

#inclusivity #inclusivearts #doula #womensupportingwomen #hullchambermusic #chambermusic #hull #goodwin #volunteer

Interested in becoming a doula or breastfeeding peer supporter? It is truly rewarding and wonderful volunteer work. This wonderful team is always happy to welcome new members. Get in touch here.

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