Storyhouse has announced The Blink Festival, a new event exploring the highs and lows of becoming a parent, will take place at the multi award-winning theatre, cinema and library this September 1 & 2.
The Blink festival– a two-day event programmed in partnership with Cheshire and Wirral Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, Mother’s Mental Health Matters (MMHM) and Breast Feeding Friendly Chester will present a series of events, workshops and performances.
The programme includes talks by leading practitioners on family nutrition, same sex parenting, mental and sexual health, miscarriage, advice on surviving the pressures of becoming a new parent, plus music, massage and sling wearing workshops and the chance to record your own birth story.
Alex Clifton, artistic director for Storyhouse says: “Having children, not having children, adopting, fostering, child loss, breastfeeding, nutrition, sex after childbirth, sexual health – and the mental health consequences of it all… Blink creates safe spaces to learn about, confront and honestly share the highs and lows of parenting.”
Tania Stanway, Consultant Psychiatrist at Cheshire and Wirral Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, adds: “We’re delighted to be partnering with Storyhouse to support the health and wellbeing of our local communities. At the festival we’ll be providing advice around perinatal mental health and breastfeeding – two vitally important topics to the early stages of parenting.”
10-Minute Tales at Blink, panel discussion exploring the diverse issues people face before becoming and being a parent
Bring Your Own Birth Stories, the Secret Room located in Storyhouse’s library will be transformed into a recording studio for Mothers and Fathers to come and record their journey to parenthood.
Actor, broadcaster and activist David Monteith will present a talk about his experience of stillbirth. Dubbed an emotional, humorous and uplifting talk that also embraces the trauma of stillbirth.
Nutritionist Melanie Jones will lead an interactive workshop on family nutrition, whilst Dr Nicola Mullin consultant in Sexual and Reproductive Health will be talking about sexual health.
Campaigner Mark Williams will talk about the importance of mental health for new Fathers and in a rare opportunity for parents: Consultant Paediatrician Dr Ravi Jayaram will be talking about health issues in young children and babies ‘a whistle stop tour of things parents should know.’
Plus, talks on parenting for same sex couples, led by the charity Body Positive.
Using Tibetan singing bowls, wind chimes and ‘mantra’ (vocal toning) participants will be led through a series of relaxation and mindfulness exercises. Dr Sheelagh McGuinness and Prof. Littlemore from the Uni of Bristol have recently completed a research project into pregnancy loss and will present a session and talk on the subject, this is open to anyone especially people who have experienced pregnancy loss.
Rehanna from #MMhM will lead a walk-through Chester alongside a session on choosing the right sling for your needs.
Brio Leisure will join the festival and take attendees on a Buggy Burn and Firm session. There will also be group discussions on promoting positive birth experiences and massage sessions.
Performance is also at the heart of the festival programme, choirs Dee Ensemble and VoxPox will perform, plus saxophone quartet Fascinating Sex. For babies and toddlers: Brahms for Babies and boomwhacker music making. Plus, a performance of A Dad’s Guide to Losing a Child produced by Yet Another Carnival will be staged in the Garret Theatre.
The festival is produced in partnership with Cheshire and Wirral Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, #MMhM and Breast Feeding Friendly Chester. All events will be relaxed for parents who choose to breastfeed. Wristbands are £15 and allow entry to all events over the two-day festival, advance booking recommended.
Founder of MummyYoga, Dr. Rehana Jawadwala has been involved with perinatal mental health agenda since her meeting at the House of Commons last year, she says: “After galvanising more than 300 women to come forward with their mental health stories, the Mothers’ Mental health Matters (#MMhM) project was born. This project aims to support women and families through their journey from fertility issues into early parenthood. We aim to provide community-based solutions that will bring together peer support and help reduce social isolation.”
To find out more visit https://www.storyhouse.com/blink-festival