The Arts & Everything in Between

March 7, 2024 | Duration: 50 mins

Empowering & Supporting Arts Communities with Celine Wyatt


Celine Wyatt

We mark International Women’s Day with an inspiring interview with Celine Wyatt, Head of Creative Development and Learning at Blackpool Grand Theatre and a fellow of the Royal Society of the Arts.

Celine shares her personal story of resilience, tracing the highs and lows of her career. She offers a profound look into the realities of working within the arts and cultural sector, highlighting the blend of passion, perseverance, and the need for systemic change to support professionals at all stages of their careers. Celine’s story is a testament to the strength found in creative resilience and the importance of community support in navigating the complexities of professional and personal life in the arts.

What You’ll Learn:

  1. What are the health inequalities facing women in the workplace? Including the impact of maternity and menopause on professional life.
  2. The systemic challenges faced by women in the workplace and the importance of advocacy for policies that support women’s health and equality in the arts sector.
  3. How arts organisations can foster a supportive environment for both new talents and veteran professionals.
  4. How resilience can be nurtured within the community through storytelling and initiatives like the Story Led Resilience Programme can support mental health.



Explore innovative concepts and gain insights from professionals and leaders in the arts, culture, heritage and live entertainment space.

Join arts and culture industry leaders and specialists for actionable advice and inspiration as they share their stories and expertise and discuss the big issues at the forefront of the arts and culture landscape.



If you’ve got a topic you’d like us to cover or want to share your story – get in touch! [email protected].

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A special thank you to Celine Wyatt for joining us and sharing her personal story and experience. We also want to thank our listeners for their continuous support, don’t forget to subscribe, like, share, and leave a review for “The Arts and Everything in Between” podcast.


About Our Guest

Featured Guest

Celine Wyatt

Celine Wyatt is Head of Creative Learning at the Grand Theatre in Blackpool. She has a BA (Hons) in English and Drama with a Certificate in Education. Celine currently sits on the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) Education Advisory Panel and the Edge Hill University Employability Panel.

Celine has worked in theatre, cultural and education sectors and has had positions as a Teacher, Arts Officer, Youth Worker, Schools Cultural Development Officer and Creative Learning Director. She is a Royal Society of Arts (RSA) Fellow, a Common Purpose Graduate, a Trustee of Zest Academy Trust, a Member of the Royal Society of Arts Evidence Champions Network, a Member of the Member Cultural Learning Alliance, an Arts Award Adviser and a Resilient Trainer.

Celine is committed to enabling children and young people to build their capacity and resilience through creative experiences and processes.

Lucy Costelloe: [00:00:00] Hello and welcome to this episode of the arts and everything in between podcast brought to you by Ticket Solve. My name is Lucy Costello, and I am delighted to be joined by our guest today, Celine Wyatt, head of creative development and learning at Blackpool Grand Theatre. Celine is a fellow of the Royal Society of the Arts, and I am particularly excited to speak with her today as we talk about a series of important topics that impact professionals within our sector and beyond.

Celine shares the tale of her creative resilience and touches on the highs and lows of success in the cultural industry. The topics she covers ranges from national prestigious awards to health inequalities facing women to the love of her family. Most importantly, Celine shares her awareness of the less glamorous faults of our sector and how arts teams can come together to support early professionals as well as long standing [00:01:00] professionals.

In October last year, I had the privilege of watching Celine receive the UK Award for Excellence in Arts Education alongside her team. I was enthralled to learn more and I am excited to share this opportunity with our podcast listeners. Welcome, Celine. Good afternoon. Welcome to the

Celine Wyatt: podcast. Good afternoon, Lucy.

It’s really great, uh, to be on the podcast. Uh, thank you for inviting me. And here I am in, not sunny Blackpool, I’m afraid, but we do have, forgive the seagulls if they come and speak to us on the roof of the theatre.

Lucy Costelloe: They’re, they’re, they’re very welcome, very welcome. It all adds to the, to the, I suppose, the, the live aspect of, um, of, of our podcast.

And I suppose, Céline, you know, that’s something that you’re most definitely not, not shy with is, um, you know, uh, public speaking and, and, and live, live occasions. So, um, you know, I, I’ve, I’ve given an intro to our listeners just to touch upon, you know, how, how we met and, you know, sitting down and listening to, [00:02:00] to you receiving, um, the, the UK Theatre Award was, it was, it was amazing.

You know, you couldn’t but just absorb your, your energy and your passion for, for everything that you, that you do. And I’m really, really so excited that, that, you know, after kind of having a series of conversations with yourself, that we were able to look at not just covering one particular topic, but covering so many through your own, um, storytelling.

of your, your resilience journey into, into the sector. And, you know, I, I’d invite you now maybe just to give a bit of an introduction to yourself and, you know, um, kind of how your, your career has flourished.

Celine Wyatt: Oh, that’s very, very kind of you. And I was really, we were, I was in shock when we won, uh, you know, won that award.

And, and of course, I suppose what, what. What was important to me was to say on, on the stand that I guess when I was accepting the speech that a big shout out to all the theatres and cultural organisations who commit to serving their community. Because in the [00:03:00] end, theatres and arts organisations are part of the community, they are not set aside, and that’s how really they should be operating.

And so I just wanted to do that and also, uh, understand, really, my, my journey, um, to theatre was very much through, um, the love of stories and storytelling, uh, that I got from my dad, and the love of reading that I got from my mum, and I think that I just wanted to say something really, which summed up, uh, and kind of honours that, um, because my dad, came from Derry, and, uh, I just wanted to kind of say this introduction just as a very short little bit of a story.

So my late dad, who comes from Derry, loved jelly and custard, and he would also make sunshine puddings on a Sunday, and that’s where you had syrup on the top. When his shift allowed, because he was a fireman, and he only came over to Morecambe when he was [00:04:00] 16, and that’s because it was one of nine, um, at 16 they all had to leave home, and so he joined.

His elder brother here, uh, in Morecambe. My dad was bright and funny, but wasn’t able to take up the grammar school place. Uh, he was offered. He was one of nine and they simply couldn’t afford it. So my dad valued education for us all. Um, I’m one of four. And he was so proud when I made it to Hull University.

I was the first both in his and my mum’s family. Um, and that’s where I did English and Drama as a degree. And it was the feeling that I could do anything as a young woman. That came from them and it’s funny really because, um, I didn’t really see it or know it or think about fully the prejudices or barriers that women experience because my mum gave me this don’t let anybody not your confidence potion and just, and you know, go out and do it attitude.

and always ask why. It helps. But when you come up [00:05:00] against health based prejudices in a world of work, that’s when my inherited stubbornness sometimes just wasn’t enough. Be that from pregnancies to the menopause, um, the effort and range of resources to keep your professional life going, um, and sustained, uh, are huge.

And so I suppose my creative, resilient journey started a long time ago and carries on today. I love that idea

Lucy Costelloe: of being able to bottle, bottle up, um, courage or, or stubbornness that you could just nearly produce when, whenever, whenever it’s needed. And I really enjoy, um, enjoyed your introduction, Celine.

You’re, it’s absolutely evident your, your love for, for storytelling and, and how much of a great storyteller you are. Um, I suppose it was interesting to, to listen to you use that word stubbornness. Um, because it’s not really a characteristic, I think, in the [00:06:00] sector that, um, we really navigate to, um, and sometimes it can have a negative connotation, but it’s, it’s, it’s also can be very playful.


Celine Wyatt: yeah. And I think I use that, I use that word, and I’ve always used that word, knowing that it has a negative connotation. It’s about, I suppose, replacing that word with, um, kind of having some stickability, some kind of ability to, um, to not give up. And the idea that, of course, a strength overplayed is a weakness, isn’t it?

So if you’re too stubborn, then of course, you know, you can, you can become very fixed and driven, etc. But I have to say that there has got to be something that, for me, um, has kept me moving forward in some difficult situations. And I think that we now call that resilience. And resilience is a concept, of course it is, [00:07:00] but what I’ve been doing through the Story Led Resilience Programme has been developing, uh, what are called is really resilience in action.

So how do we teach resilience skills? How do, how do we know what to do? How do we look at resilience in action? And when you know it, and you know that you’ve got resources to draw upon, then at least you can move forward in a way that has pace and that has time for you to kind of pause and reflect. And I think the danger is, the danger was for me anyway, that sometimes you, you can push through and say well actually that’s not going to beat me and I’m going to move forward in this particular way.

And, um, and of course language has, there is a lot of gendered language, we know that, and I think that when I first came across, Um, the Resilience Framework in, um, probably 2009, uh, created by Professor Angie Hart and her, her team. Blackpool was becoming, um, part of what is a resilience [00:08:00] revolution. And when I first came across Resilience Framework, that was kind of a real light bulb moment for me.

And the other thing that happened was when I saw it, I thought, Oh my word, this is going to be enormously helpful for children and young people who, um, struggle in Blackpool, uh, to cope with multiple, uh, adversities and at the same time for colleagues and also for artists and a number of people to be able to practice resilience in a safe space through stories and be able to combine that and deliver that through arts and drama.

Um, if you like teaching and learning methods. So for me, it’s only, I would say over the past 10 years that I started to understand what resilience was in action. So kind of stubbornness is a kind of, I suppose, clumsy way of saying it, but capturing that thing where you say, I’m just going to move forward and I’m just not going to give up.

up on this particular, uh, difficulty or problem that I’m facing. [00:09:00] So, yes. I,

Lucy Costelloe: I absolutely love that and you just sparked something with me, an exercise I did just at the end of, of the year. It was kind of something I had been reading online and I decided I’d sit down and kind of think of some of the words that, you know, like, Your inner critic might, might say to you and, um, you know, I, I would definitely be, um, a sufferer of, of, of an inner critic and some of the words I wrote down, I, I’m going to, if you don’t mind, say them to you and see what, what you think of because I feel like it very much, much adds to this idea of, of, um, a resilience framework.

So instead of, you know, calling something a failure, I’ll call it a learning instead of being exhausted and playing an overtime disappointed. It’s delayed, stuck. I’m exploring new angles. Um, sometimes, um, when things feel, um, or when I feel nervous, it’s, I’m becoming energized. Um, things that I hate, I’m, I change it now to, I prefer.[00:10:00]

Um, when I’m feeling a bit on, afraid, it’s, it’s uncomfortable. And, um, furious is passionate. Mm hmm. Mm hmm. Sad, I’m sorting out my thoughts. And then this big kind of idea of I have to, I changed that now to get to.

Celine Wyatt: That’s great and I really like that because what you’ve done is just turned it upside down and you’ve, you’ve re languaged that with a different mindset.

I think the danger is toxic positivity, you might think about that and not acknowledging, um, the, because there’s something about acknowledging feelings for what they are and and accepting them and moving forward with that without invalidating the feeling. So if you are furious, that’s okay. You’re dealing with anger, but you don’t want to, you stay with that for as long as you need to, don’t you?

And I think the thing is, Uh, you talk about an inner critic and, um, there is [00:11:00] always a risk isn’t there for you to get stuck in self criticism as opposed to, uh, thinking about what, what are my options here? And that’s That’s really why I think things like a growth mindset and a change mindset, and I would, you know, look at the, the grow coaching model is a very, very simple coaching model.

But what it does is enable you to think, think through and organize thinking as you move forward. We use it a lot with the children now, you know, what your goals here, uh, what’s the reality of your situation. What are the obstacles you’re facing? And then what are your options? So you’re moving into the possibility of moving forward with some options and some change.

And of course, the thing about anything to do with resilience, for me, it’s really important to think about it through a social justice lens and through also an individual and a collective lens. So what you’re doing is, um, saying to, to you or any young people or anybody that it’s not always [00:12:00] on you. It’s a collective responsibility as well.

You can only be resilient in so many areas, and you can, yes, work on your personal resilience, but there are systems at play, like the NHS, like the education system, politics and so on, the Arts Council, work, family, all of those systems can increase your resilience, or indeed, lessen your resilience, and there are simply Things that happen to you that can be out of your control.

And that’s when collective resilience comes in, where you’re enlisting people to support you. You know, having somebody to rely on, being somebody to rely on, and understanding who your sort of support network is, is hugely important, I think. I mean, I’m grappling at the moment with a car parking ticket, just because it was snowing, and we couldn’t see my pass under my condensation.

So straight away, I’m in a system, I’m a phone call, I’m an email, I’m a this, I’m a that, and I still might have to pay the fine, and, um, I’m somebody who’s pretty [00:13:00] assertive, but actually, once you get stuck into a system with a set of processes and procedures, that’s a challenge, and if you multiply that with any individual or young person who’s dealing with a number of processes and procedures, that’s a challenge.

of adverse situations and difficulties, and hasn’t got a support system at home, um, and then believes potentially it’s, it’s just on them to kind of make improvements to themselves, then that is too much, that is too much for a person. And that’s why certainly in the program that we run, it, it very much has alongside it a training program for artists and for teachers, um, and then to understand that Anybody, um, anybody that you’re working with through story to develop practice around resilient skills is working within a context and a particular situation.

And once you get that you understand what adjustments you can make. And if you’re in a school, what is it we’re doing within our situation [00:14:00] and our, and our kind of organization, and I wasn’t fully aware of that I think in my career. And. So when I was faced, I guess, with difficult, um, situations, I thought it was all on me.

And that inner critic came into play. Because you, I think, it depends where you’re coming from, but it’s the idea, I suppose, it goes back years, isn’t it? It’s that idea that it is on you. That you, that it’s your responsibility to be competent, to achieve, etc. And not fully recognised, and at least I didn’t, uh, all those years ago.

Um, when working for local authorities, when working for theatres, when working for, um, larger arts organisations, that there are systems at play that can be supportive or not necessarily supportive. And if you don’t have the tools or confidence to be able to ask the right questions or understand what your rights are, then it is easy, isn’t it, to put it all on yourself.

So [00:15:00] I recognise what you’ve said there, Lucy. Yeah, definitely.

Lucy Costelloe: And Celine, I mean, it’s so interesting listening to you speak about the various different frameworks that you’ve clearly developed and utilized yourself. Um, I think the first one I’d love just to pick on a little bit is the resilience framework that you mentioned that you came across, was it in 2009?

Could you give us just a little bit more of an insight maybe to some of our listeners who might be too familiar, um, with, with the concept of a resilience framework? Yeah,

Celine Wyatt: um, If you think about resilience and creativity as concepts. What is challenging is how you translate those concepts, as I said, into something that is practical.

What can I do to be more resilient, etc. And so, Angie Hart at University of Brighton with, with colleagues, really wanted to, and I’m not speaking on her behalf, but really wanted to move to a place where there could be something that had a set [00:16:00] of approaches and what are now called resilient moves that the people could, um, could use.

So the resilience framework, um, which has been adopted since, is basically a very helpful table divided into five compartments. And in those five compartments, which are, um, have within them 42, what are called resilience, resilient moves or approaches. So there’s a learning compartment, um, there’s a belonging compartment, there’s basics, there’s coping, and there’s core self.

And that’s all bound together by, um, if you like, principles around acceptance and conserving and enlisting and so on. And so if you were to take, uh, in basics, you might say that a resilient move would be, uh, sleep, for example, or being free from prejudice. You might say that in coping, that fostering interest and talent.

You might say being aware of others [00:17:00] feelings. You might say in belonging, having somebody to rely on, for example. So what you have there is one of many frameworks and tools that are out there around resilience. And the reason I like it very much is that there is one for children and young people.

There’s one for family. There’s one for adults. And what it does is take the theory around resilient therapy, if you like, and translate it into something, as I say, that is, is pretty practical. And because it’s underpinned by a social justice approach, which is, if you like, in summary, beating the odds.

Which is building personal resilience whilst changing the odds, which is what is it that organizations and systems can do to change the odds for individuals? What responsibility have we got to reduce barriers that are diverse? What, what do we do in our organization that embeds and reinforces prejudice, for example?

Um, it might be that, [00:18:00] um, People aren’t really aware of that until they think about it very closely. What, what are those processes and procedures and ways of communication and language in play and where does the power sit? Where does this decision making power sit and so on. So it’s about understanding that it’s beating the odds whilst changing the odds to support and think about personal resilience, collective resilience, the resilience of an organization, etc.

So, um, for me, when I, as I said, because my world is underpinned I suppose I love storytelling I love myth making I love stories on on many platforms, and it just seemed to me that. Um, the story can be, could be, it sounds simple now, it’s taken, I’ve been working on this since 2017. It’s a gateway to exploring that.

So for children and people in particular, if you’re familiar, for example, with The Three Little Pigs, you can then look at [00:19:00] it from the perspective of the wolf. Was the wolf’s needs, basic needs being met, could that have, um, a different spin on the story? Would there be something different that the three little pigs could have done together that could have changed the outcome for them?

So the stories are a rich resource, aren’t they? And they can, um, call you to action. They can make you think. They can make you feel. But what’s really important in a story is that you can have an emotional reaction to that, relate to it, and then that not necessarily, uh, speak to what you’re personally going through.

So we’ve worked with the stories presented on our stage, and we’ve also, um, then developed, uh, the practice which I’ve developed, which is Story Led Resilient Practice, which enables children and young people to think about changing the outcomes for those. characters offering them resilient moves and that’s where character coaching I’ve developed has come from.

This has all been copyrighted and trademarked so I’m sure I’m not giving too much [00:20:00] away but it’s certainly something to look at because if You are thinking about areas around resilient mental health or resilient well being. You could think about working on your resilience that way and think about it if you like as weatherproofing yourself.

That’s amazing.

Lucy Costelloe: I think, um, we’re all very familiar with, with the stories and kind of the long tales, something, an exercise I’ve never really considered myself is, um, yeah, changing, changing the outcome. I think, um, You know, from, from what you’ve, what you’ve spoken about, which I’d love to kind of touch on a little bit now, is this idea of systems.

And where, where, and when we fall into systems, I think, and the impact that that can have on, on our resilience or on, um, you know, our ability to make action in the way that, that we want to, I suppose it would [00:21:00] be great to hear, um, you know, from yourself with, with, with two national awards, should I say now, so UK theater awards, children and young people, um, and also, or sorry, the UK theater awards, but.

Their second award is Children and Young People Now. Um, so with your, that was your Illuminate project won that as well, very recently. You know, for me, you know, that just, that just feels like, you know, these major highs of, of success, but of course, with, with all these highs there, there comes the lows, the lows, the peaks and the troughs and so forth.

Maybe give us a little bit of, from your own insight into kind of how, how maybe throughout your career and as you’re, um, you know, your profession has grown, how and where you might have, um, kind of appeared in these systems and how they’ve impacted positively or negatively, um, how you’ve been able to make the choices that you have made.

Celine Wyatt: Okay, well, I am going to look at [00:22:00] that through the lens, this may sound odd, but I am going to look at that through the lens of a woman, because I think those particular Um, my particular experiences around systems that can work for or against you, I’m sure, um, are not uncommon. And I would say, yes, it was brilliant, hugely, hugely delighted about the awards.

But then, you know, you come back to life, don’t you? And then you are settled into kind of understanding what’s changed. As a result of that, you know, and things that I find interesting, and I’ll talk to you about kind of systems around my career because I think that is interesting, well, important to look at is this idea of a voice, isn’t it?

It’s about having a voice. We’ve all got voices, but do we always have platforms? Do we always have platforms to speak? Do we always have platforms to explain our own work in our own words? Or do people use our [00:23:00] voice? Do people, um, use the work? Do people speak on our behalf? And I think women in particular, there’s lots of work, and, and people Women who have spoken about this, uh, who I admire.

And there’s this idea of, um, not just being at the table, being able to have support to facilitate what you want to say at that table. And could there be a point where that doesn’t happen? Could it be that you have a voice without having? To make sure that you have a voice, if you see what I mean, so there’s something about, um, how, and I’ve been reading actually, Mary Beard’s fantastic book, uh, Women in Power, and there’s something really important about a power dynamic within any system or organization that can either suppress your [00:24:00] voice edit it or speak on your behalf and I think women collectively having the confidence to say I would like to now come in and say this, I take on board what you’re saying, but this is my point, without, um, explaining why, without taking a defensive position, and that’s hard, that’s really, really hard, because you’re putting yourself out there, and often I’ve worked in mostly, um, I would say a mixture of situations, of course, but trying to think I’ve only had, um, yeah, I think there’s been theatre, there’s been local authority I’ve worked in, and I’ve obviously been a teacher and lecturer as well, and I think I felt that that was common throughout.

So, when you talk about systems, for me, that I’ve encountered, I’ve been, I suppose, As I’ve grown up, I’ve been, through my career, I’ve had two [00:25:00] children, um, and of course started going through the menopause in my late 40s, and I’m 60 now, so 10 years of that, incredibly difficult time, and you, You end up realizing that actually, sometimes the systems aren’t working in your favor.

And whilst we have maternity leave, there is no menopause leave, whilst we have an understanding about women having children and coming back to work, when I had my son, the idea of flexible working and the idea of working from home didn’t really exist. And there was a very strong, I felt anyway, a very strong stigma around, Women coming back to work, perhaps not being as confident, or how can you be coming back to work and full time and understanding what the childcare situation was, and then the transition into that being incredibly challenging and, and I think that We’re at [00:26:00] a place now where you can argue, well, at least women don’t have to give up work when they’re pregnant, which happened many, many years ago.

Um, but it’s incredibly challenging and you have to, I think, there is a payoff. There always is a payoff. And if you want to carry on with your career, Or if you have an economic need to carry on working, which I did, um, then you’ve got a set of decisions to make about how you present yourself at work, how you decide to talk about your family at work, how you understand that sometimes you can overestimate people’s interest in your baby or your children, and the fact that actually, um, the, the payoff can impact on your mental health.

And it did for me. I think there were times when my, um, energy and my resources, when they were focused on work, and then I didn’t have dine time, then I wanted to focus, you know, on my [00:27:00] children. I didn’t go back, working full time really, after I had children, um, until then Lauren was, I guess, started school after I had my daughter.

And so what you’re doing then, and going back to the inner critic, and I’ve got to be you know, up to my game sort of thing, you’re effectively not necessarily being as kind to yourself as you can be. And the expectations that you put on yourself are not ever going to be the same, uh, as when, they weren’t for me anyway, as when you, uh, before you had children.

So for me, I, I decided after I’d, um, I went freelance for a period of time, and then after I’d gone freelance, I then uh, worked for, I took up a part time job at Lancashire County Council, and then I went for four days at South Ribble running the arts team there and, and the, um, and the Arts Centre, and then from that moved into setting up the Schools Cultural Programme at the Council, [00:28:00] Blackpool Council, and then back into the Grand Theatre working two part time jobs.

And I think what’s really interesting is that The support that you think you’re going to receive from any sort of system, um, is down to the people in charge, the leadership, but also down to their experience, um, in that kind of, for women in that kind of world. So, I would say that, um, You have to understand that there is a different expectation on you, and I would say that there is a definite push towards, I felt it and I know friends and colleagues have, to making sure that you are aware of that.

as competent or more competent than people around you. And that puts an enormous pressure on, on [00:29:00] yourself. And, and I think I, I only realized I was doing that, um, till really, I kind of thought, you know, when I was in my, I suppose, 49, 50 and the menopause hit, and I just thought, I, I’m struggling now. I really can’t deal with this, uh, very well, but I didn’t really understand that that was the impact of the menopause.

At that time, so I would say that if you’re lucky and you are in an organization where you can talk about. Um, issues beyond what’s statutory, shall we say, in terms of how it’s affected, what’s going on in your kind of resilient journey, then that’s good, and I would say that there’s a lot of independent arts organizations where that can happen, but I would say there’s a lot of taboo that exists, and it certainly did for me, about giving the impression that you’re less competent in your work because you have got children, and in my case, um, I [00:30:00] gave up work.

uh, at the theatre because Lauren, my daughter, was two pounds and she, um, she was a preemie and I’d suffered preeclampsia twice, so two, you know, life threatening situat three, if you include Lauren. And at the time my, my late dad had died of cancer before Lauren had bor was born, he was 62. And, and when I look back at that time now, Um, it was the perfect storm and it did affect my mental health at that particular time.

And then when you think that you want to be resilient, what I’ve learned is the only thing you can do is move into acceptance. and try and accept what that difficult situation is, because it’s not necessarily going to come from a workplace. And that’s when you have to look at the resources that you need personally, I think outside of that workplace.


Lucy Costelloe: Oh my goodness. Um, yeah, I can imagine that that period in your life, Celine, like acceptance is Must have been [00:31:00] incredibly, incredibly a tough exercise as well. I know if, if that was myself, I think I, yeah, I, I probably would have had to have done a lot of learning and to be able to, to, to accept. When you speak about, um, some of your experiences, um, you know, um, in the working sector, what I find so interesting and, you know, it was, it’s, it’s so apparent, but it’s just not.

I suppose in a way that I probably would have thought about it before, but you speak about health inequalities for women, but they’re. They’re, you know, issues that we’re, we’re very aware of and, and things that are, you know, very much a part of, of human life. So, um, you know, having a family. Yeah, absolutely.

To think about then the health inequalities that, that, um, that impact women coming back to work after having children. And then you’ve also mentioned around. the, the topic as well of, of the menopause and, [00:32:00] um, how that has been, you know, um, a subjective of taboo. It most definitely has. I think we’re starting definitely to see a change.

Every so often I’ll see something of, you know, training that’s available. Um, for team members, but I think, yeah, you know, this is definitely something that we’ve had a lot of, um, you know, kind of conversation on kind of how our, our beginning spark took off and podcast as

Celine Wyatt: well. Absolutely. And I just want to say that I’m speaking about my lived experience.

And I know, but I do know colleagues and friends, long term friends who’ve had similar difficulties and, um, And I do call it health inequalities, and many do because if you think about the amount of women who work, you know, and the amount of women in the population, um, and the kind of fact that, particularly now you’ve, you’ve, you’ve [00:33:00] brought up the subject of menopause, um, You know, ten years ago, um, and even now, there is still very much a taboo around talking about your menopause symptoms.

And if we talk about language, and if we talk about how we, um, describe menopause symptoms, and we talk about, um, humour that can be connected to hot flushes and tiredness and all the rest of it, it’s not funny going through the menopause. It is not funny. For some, for many women, it can be, and was for me, one of the most difficult periods of their life.

And it can be, and have devastating impact on their mental health, their marriage, their relationships, how they feel in the world, their relationships with the children, etc, etc. The symptoms, uh, can be, can be, uh, horrific. And, and I [00:34:00] think that You, you mention, um, training, um, and, and yes, uh, you know, there are, Unison are fantastic, ACAS are fantastic, they have, um, published guidance for employers and managers, how to support, um, staff through the menopause and to understand menopause symptoms, I think their guide, ACAS guidance was 2019, which is relatively late when you think how long women have been going through the menopause, um, and, It was so disappointing when ministers, when the government in, I think it was 2022, when they actually blocked the proposal to make the menopause a protected characteristic under the Equality Act.

And they said for two reasons. They said, well, more than that, but one was that it was already covered because it intersected with other protected characteristics around age, um, and, and sex, i. e. gender. [00:35:00] And then the other thing was that it would discriminate against men, which is just really unbelievable.

And They also then rejected the proposal to pilot what is called menopause leave. A similar idea, if you like, to, to maternity leave. And it’s the idea that women really cannot stop going through the menopause. Not all women can have HRT. I couldn’t. Not all women want a HRT. But actually, what, what, Um, what that did was reinforce across the piece, if you like, the fact that, you know, this is something to negotiate with your organization.

So imagine that Lucy, you go to your boss and say, I’m having really difficult menopause symptoms. Where shall I start? Okay. Lack of sleep. I’m feeling invisible, hot flushes, hard to concentrate, um, having memory lapses, uh, mood swings. [00:36:00] Now, that doesn’t sound like you could carry on carrying out your job, does it?

No. That has a potential risk attached to it that could be underage, but you know, and I’m generalizing here because some women, you know, don’t have a huge amount of difficulties, but I’m just saying that yes, that could be attached to age, which is um, you know, a protected characteristic, or it could be attached to, you know, the fact that you’re women, etc.

But it might not be, and it’s down to the organization to make that, that call, that decision. And an organization, uh, might say, Do you know what? I’m just wondering if you’re able to carry on under this situation. But being able to carry out your job and let’s move to a performance management review, or you might say, I’d like to apply for flexible working on the basis of these [00:37:00] symptoms.

How long are these symptoms going to last? How are you going to mitigate against it? What’s going on? So if I’m looking at it from. Uh, an employer’s perspective without that being a protected characteristic, then they’ve got a set of potentially, uh, difficult decisions to make when they weigh that up in terms of the, the, the team, um, and the women in that team in particular who were, who were going through the menopause.

And so I do think that was a shame. I do think it was a huge missed opportunity. You know, and like I said to you, Lucy, Fawcett Society research suggests that at least one in 10 women. who worked through the menopause, uh, left their job due to symptoms. That’s really high, isn’t it? I found that That’s really high.

I mean, it’s just shocking. I mean, I think, um, the, the, um, May 2023, we had the British Standards Institute, BSI, have published a workplace standard, which is great, to [00:38:00] tackle taboos. and help employers keep people at work. And this new guidance is also to support women with periods who have difficulty or going through the menopause.

And that’s about training and it’s about understanding, um, the offering flexible working for a period of time is something really That organizations should look at. I mean, I have to refer to Timpsons who’ve been amazing in their policy and, um, and there are other organizations who are moving forward, but it is a very, very small percentage.

And until it’s baked into policy, and until it’s baked into occupational health, for example, then, you know, that, that kind of Difficulty and challenge to carry on working, uh, you’re drawing on stubbornness, of course you are, but you’re also drawing on the risk that it was be around, you know, the impact that that’s going to have on your on your [00:39:00] mental health, your resilient mental health.

And I do think that, um, reflecting on that, um, I wonder how far and in what way I’m going to be maybe provocative here. things would change if men went through the menopause as well. I wonder what would change then. You know, it, it’s, it’s an area where when you start talking about it, um, to other women, and I talk to other professionals, other women leaders, they’re kind of like, yeah, yeah, it was okay.

Oh no, it wasn’t okay. And they kind of brush it off, move forward, or they’ll, or they’ll say, it’s really difficult. And the thing where you hear. You know, people, you know, women kind of brushing it off, making a joke of it. The, the impact can be enormous if you start openly talking [00:40:00] about it. in the workplace because of that risk.

It’s not just a, so you would have a conversation with your boss and say, you know, can we, can we open this conversation? Um, and that is then on you and it’s on the organization because it’s not in occupational health or now isn’t it? protected characteristic, you’re relying on the, that particular organization to, uh, offer some, some options for you to, to help you cope.

Um, training’s important for managers. It’s how far that’s understood without prejudice is what I would say.

Lucy Costelloe: No, definitely. And Celine, for kind of sharing. Again, this is all your personal, um, experiences and very much your story of, of resilience. So really appreciate that you’re, you’ve come on and, and you’re, you’ve come in and, and really just given your, [00:41:00] you know, your perspective on, and your own experiences as well.

Um, I do think, uh, a lot of, um, women in particular listening today will, will really. You know, um, really listened to your words, you know, we started off originally, um, kind of talking about touching on language and, and, and storytelling. And now, as we’ve moved through our particular topics, we’re still coming back to that idea of, you know, the idea of you having to approach, um, your employer and having to kind of negotiate, you know, the terms that, that, that, that you might need, um, you know, in

Celine Wyatt: order.

Sorry, Lucy, I think for me, it. Because of COVID and because of those two years, if you like, of lockdown, and because of, um, I suppose, a change in leadership, etc. I mean, and also I’ve got to a point now where it is not as bad, you know, at 60, I would say between 59 [00:42:00] and 60. I was able to cope and things, um, were, were easier in a sense.

That doesn’t mean to say that my sleep pattern isn’t disrupted. It doesn’t mean to say that, um, you know, I don’t have as many resources, but what it does mean is that I’m, um, a bit more confident. And I, I haven’t had that, that conversation because I’m, I’m working flexibly because. Um, at the moment because I happen to have, uh, because I’m going through a physio because of uh, an injury in my shoulder.

And so the question I ask myself is this inner critic is going, I haven’t actually talked about it in that way because And I hope that you and other women in 20, and my daughter in 20, 30 years time that, you know, there will be a menopause leave in place when it is really difficult or really extreme or that, you know, um, I mean, I know now that HRT [00:43:00] is, is, you know, more, more available.

And, and, and yeah, you know, I remember myself and friends who’ve been to the doctors who have talked about, you know, well, what about antidepressants first? And you just go, Oh my God. Um, there’s something about something that is a very natural human condition for a woman that varies for people. For some people it’s not as difficult and, and for others it is.

But then, you know, we’re not just talking about the menopause, are we? We’re talking about potential health inequalities that can follow the journey of a woman through, through her life from period, you know, through periods of pregnancy, et cetera. And, um, I’m using the term woman there, um, to be inclusive.

So I do, I do think that, um. There’s something about empowerment isn’t there? And there’s something about understanding that hopefully, um, things will [00:44:00] change and that the House of Commons Women and Equalities Select Committee will not give up. And the campaigning that’s been going on will move forward so that it does become a protected characteristic in the Equality Act and therefore it can be baked into what happened in terms of workplace and occupational health.

I think that is, would be a significant move because the system then is supporting that conversation that you can have and then look at reasonable adjustments that can be made. in the workplace. Yeah. Absolutely.

Lucy Costelloe: And Celine for, for any of our listeners listening today is, is there any. you know, kind of website in particular, um, online petitions at the moment that you’re aware of, or is there anywhere if someone wants to get more information that you could direct them to?

Celine Wyatt: Well, I think, um, women of a certain [00:45:00] stage, Lauren Sharon’s founded, um, is worth looking at. I would say Menno Clarity, Rachel Lank, Esther, and um, Magnificent Midlife, I would say they’re really good. Um, I mean it’s worth having a look at the Boing Boing website, B O I N G and then B O I N G, Boing Boing, um, to look at, if you want to look at the Resilience Framework, particularly the one for, for adults.

Um, and you know, it, it’s, It’s looking for any kind of, um, not everybody wants to talk about things, they just want to kind of work out things with their friends or, or family or whatever, but, um, you know, my husband’s the chair of UNISON at Wyatt and they organised for the training for, for men and women, and he was saying to me that there were, the lack of understanding, [00:46:00] um, Really from men where it’s not really spoken about.

It’s not that currency at home. Um, you know, it was a really useful way of introducing that as, as kind of a topic. So I do think look at Unison. And I do think look at ACAS for their published guidance for employers and managers to support staff. I think there’s the good places to go to. Yeah,

Lucy Costelloe: definitely.

And we’ll make sure to link those in the show notes as well. So if you’re listening to the podcast, Head to the show notes there and we will also include those, those links. Celine, we’re just coming to the end of our, our, our time slot. Is there any kind of final words or, um, antidotes that, that you might want to, to finish on that you think we, we mightn’t have had just a chance to touch on just yet?


Celine Wyatt: that’s one of the slots we always have lots to talk about, don’t we Lucy? I would say that[00:47:00]

having the ability to try and to kind of understand that it won’t, not that it won’t last forever, but that Um, trying to conserve and preserve some of the glimmers, thinking about, you know, hopeful things. It’s hard sometimes, but you know, if we can try and find a good support network, if you can, um, By exercise, I think it’s been really helpful.

I went back to my Rosemary Conley exercises I did years ago. Um, I think being able to talk about things is really important and choose, choose who you want to talk to, you know, and choose a nice supportive network. But I think that kind of. internal, um, journey that you go through around [00:48:00] resilience.

Somebody said to me, you know, if you think about anxiety and excitement as being the same energy, and it’s how we interpret that. And so I would say that. It takes effort to understand, um, things and it takes effort to change any sort of mindset that you have. So I would, um, allow time to just process things.

So for me, I’m knitting another blanket and when I’m knitting, that’s my kind of, um, time or gardening. It is called, I dunno if you’ve heard about it, Lucy. It’s called having, finding time honored space. And it’s the idea that. You have time, which is unmeasured, so that you can just kind of relax, um, your brain and your thinking.

Um, and it’s in, I think it was in in Greeks Greek time. They had Kronos time, which was measured time, and they had Kairos time, which [00:49:00] was, I think it was unmeasured time. And it’s the idea that because our lives are so measured and timetabled and busy and going here, there, and everywhere, that I would say I, I.

It’s, it’s good to find Kairos time, which is called time honored space, where you suspend the idea of measuring time and just let your brain relax. And like I can be knitting for just like 10 minutes or gardening or doing something and I feel like a lot of time has passed because I haven’t been measuring it, or you could be walking or.

Or, you know, doing whatever. It’s the idea that you let yourself off the hook and you just kind of relax your mind and take time out. And I think carving that out and planning to do that, I would say is, is really important. Uh, for yourself, giving back to yourself and re energizing yourself, um, and committing to yourself is what I would say.

Lucy Costelloe: Amazing. Well, Selene, thank you so much. I [00:50:00] really, really enjoyed our conversation today and speaking to you up until the lead of the podcast, you know, I’ve, I’ve learned so much. I think when we were doing our run through there a few weeks ago, um, my response to you after the call was everything that you were talking about.

I didn’t realize how much I needed to hear it until I was. It’s actively listening to what you were saying. So thank you so much. I’m sure it will be so valuable for our listeners as well. Um, and I suppose if, if anyone wants to follow you on, on any channels, you can let us know and we, we will add those to the show notes too.

Thank you so much.

Celine Wyatt: It’s been a pleasure. Uh, and thank you for inviting me. And yes, I am on Twitter. Sorry, X. No. Yes. Thank you. Thanks, Lucy. It’s been lovely.

Lucy Costelloe: Thank you. This episode of the arts and everything in between podcast was brought to you by Ticket Solve. If you enjoyed this episode with myself and Celine, please remember to share, to like, and subscribe to the podcast.

Thank [00:51:00] you.

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