Join the Doncaster women making a fresh start by shining a light on the past

Keeping mentally ‘fit’ is proving a daily struggle for many people, but a trailblazing group of Doncaster women have found a remedy in history – and they’re encouraging others to give it a go.

Thursday, 10th February 2022, 11:29 am

Through Heritage Doncaster’s inventive ‘history, health and happiness’ social club they’ve been reclaiming his-tory as ‘her-story’, overcoming their own personal battles and social isolation by casting a spotlight on inspirational women of the past who have been long-overlooked by the history books.

Now ‘HerStory’ are opening their doors for the first time – they were only able to meet online during lockdown – encouraging other women to join the club for free, and give themselves a fresh start for spring, whilst recreating historic crafts or cookery, taking trips or handling real-life historic artefacts from Doncaster museum’s collections connected to the stories being explored.

“HerStory is empowering, engaging – and just so much fun!” says Victoria Ryves, project manager for Heritage Doncaster’s award-winning History, Health & Happiness initiative, funded by the Arts Council for England (ACE).

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“The women who take part in the social club come from every walk of life, but they’ve often become lonely or house-bound, or have had to put their own mental wellbeing on the back-burner for far too long. In the club, we explore the stories of women who are just like us – women who’ve been pushed into history’s shadows; who have had to deal with all sorts of trials and obstacles in their lifetimes, and yet have triumphed. By telling their stories, we find a place for ourselves.”

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It’s certainly paid off: over the 18 months, most of the women involved in HerStory noticed an improvement in their mental health, while 23% felt more confident, and 11% felt more connected with other people and experienced a rise in happiness. In their own words:

“Being a young woman in the 21st Century, you forget the struggles women in the past had, and the sacrifices they made to allow us to have the freedoms we have today. I’ve really love HerStory and learning about those women who had such fighting spirit for what they believed in.”

“HerStory has been an amazing opportunity for mums and women to get out of the house and learn things about women’s heritage they otherwise wouldn’t have known. HerStory has helped me make new friends and made me realise I’m a strong, badass woman who can do anything I put my mind to.”

“A fantastic group who has helped me with confidence issues as well as mental health problems. The things we are learning and making are fab!”

Now Herstory is going off-line and ‘in-person’ for the first time since 2020, they’re looking for other kindred spirits to join their free weekly women’s club, which meets every Tuesday morning at Tom Hill Youth Club in Denaby. To get involved or find out more email [email protected] or call 01302 737339.

To find out more about Heritage Doncaster’s ‘History, Health and Happiness’ activities and resources free for everyone, follow social media @DanumGLAM or visit www.heritagedoncaster.org.uk.

In these confusing and worrying times, local journalism is more vital than ever. Thanks to everyone who helps us ask the questions that matter by taking out a subscription or buying a paper. We stand together. Nancy Fielder, editor.