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Sisterhood - The Power of Friendship, Support and Understanding in a Woman’s Life

By Suze Somerville

The power of sisterhood is undisputed. The absence or lack of a meaningful friendship in our lives can sometimes have a detrimental effect leading to loneliness and/or an effect on our mental health. Some of us are lucky to have experienced a friendship spanning decades and are still enjoying this. Sadly, some of us may have lost a friend to death, logistics of moving home, or simply one has outgrown the other....all of which can leave us with an empty void. However, if we are ever in this situation we must remember that friendships can happen at any time in our lives and we never know who’s around the corner or how much meaning they will bring into our life. A friend we’ve only just made can become our new BFF and surpass other friendships we’ve had for years and years.

On March 8th we acknowledged International Women’s Day where we celebrate the achievements of women. I’d stumbled upon an interesting group on social media about friendship for ladies which caught my attention so I thought I’d check it out. It seemed rather fitting that our interview fell on International Women’s day as this group is about the empowerment of women in connecting, making friends and supporting each other along the way. Although still in its infancy and ironing out challenges created by such a fast-growing community it has now reached 3.4k members in the space of just six weeks.

The one thing she has learnt from the expat lifestyle is ‘the importance of putting yourself out there and making new friends or ending up living a solitary life.’

My laptop was playing up and I had to resort to my mobile at the last minute leaving me slightly flustered as I dialled in. I hadn’t realised the phone had slipped until I caught sight of the screen in horror and quickly repositioned it back up towards my face. I was instantly put back to my relaxed self after Candice joked, ‘Ah, a face! I was wondering what I was looking at,’ as we erupted into laughter. I smiled acknowledging mutual energy. We all know within seconds whether we are going to get along when we meet someone new. Our energies introduce us long before words are spoken. We are all energy!

Candice who lives in Kent is an ex-patriate, originally from South Africa who spent 20 years in the Middle East and says the one thing she has learnt from the expat lifestyle is ‘the importance of putting yourself out there and making new friends or ending up living a solitary life.’ She is a confident woman with a no-nonsense approach. She explained that Mary, the other lady who had the idea for the group was a little on the shy side and couldn’t make the interview but we agreed to go ahead and I’d catch up with Mary later.

Candice had stumbled upon the group herself when it was approaching its 100th member and Mary, realising she couldn’t manage the fast-growing group on her own, was asking for admins to join and help out. Candice approached Mary and very efficiently set about organising the layout of the page and ironing out difficulties with members, creating rules and guidelines for membership.


Mary had no idea the group would develop so quickly or what direction it would travel in. Although the group was very much Mary’s creation, Candice is the cogs of the machine, making sure everything runs as smoothly as possible for its eclectic group of members with a demographic of women aged 18-90+!

From left to right enjoying one of the many ‘Kent Ladies Friendship Group’ meet ups - Natalia, Geraldine, Hema, Barbara.

When asking about the vision for the group and what makes it different from any other support group on social media, Candice shared, ‘It’s one thing having a core group where you can introduce yourself and arrange a meeting, but we wanted something different from any other social group and that was achieved by channelling common interests and guiding our female members towards each other through the setting up of sub-groups.’

Candice tells me this is proving to be quite a full-time role requiring diligence, compassion and an open mind. She tells me the admin team work together closely to ensure everyone feels respected and supported.

Over the six weeks Candice has created an array of sub-groups including crafting, book club, pet owners and live events. They also have a photography club, bereavement support and for those who want to come away from the bustle of the main group, ‘The Quiet Zone’ where members can talk about mental health, wellbeing, self-care and receive support and understanding. More sub-groups are being added by request and it seems there is no limit to what Kent Ladies Friendship is willing to offer its members. There is also a business networking opportunity for those who want to promote their services within the group.


Of course, hosting a fast-growing group of women of complexity and diversity doesn’t come without its challenges. I’d seen a few posts myself and winced as some seemingly vulnerable or naïve women had given out personal details or commented on a post causing ruffled feathers. When the posts suddenly disappeared I was curious as to how they were addressing and managing any potential problems which arise. The group has a team of moderators and admins who approve posts before they go live. They also scroll through posts daily to ensure their members’ are keeping themselves safe and when needed, will private message them having a conversation about what they have shared online. Candice tells me this is proving to be quite a full-time role requiring diligence, compassion and an open mind. She tells me the admin team work together closely to ensure everyone feels respected and supported.


We are strong, we are somebody. We are enough and we make a difference.

We all have mental health! I’m putting this out there because we all know how difficult it can be to manage our own emotions at times. Now imagine someone who is battling with their mental health on top of feeling emotive... so the message is clear, just be nice. And if we can’t be nice, scroll along. We are an empowerment of women who can sometimes be vulnerable and even volatile and yet we each bring something to the table of life and friendship. We are strong, we are somebody. We are enough and we make a difference. And somewhere out there in the ether, or maybe a couple of streets along, unbeknown to us, there is a stranger waiting to become our friend... someone who is on our energy frequency and gets us!

The group reminds us all that no matter our background, experience or social status we all have the human need and desire to connect and make friends, which brings with it a sense of purpose, self-worth and enjoyment. Deep down we all want to feel accepted, cared about and thought of. We are all social creatures who thrive in a supportive environment where we feel acknowledged and more importantly understood. We need friends and friends need us. In fact, you may have heard the saying, ‘Friends are the family we choose for ourselves.’ And this group is endeavouring to offer exactly that!

You can check out Kent Ladies friendship Group on Facebook at Kent Ladies.

Since going to print, I have been informed that Mary has sadly removed herself from the group due to personal reasons, but the ethos of this rapidly growing group (which stands at 3.5k now), very much remains and that is to offer a place for women to meet, make friends, feel empowered and support each other.

 

Suze Somerville is a Psychological Wellbeing Practitioner and Coach experienced and the Author of Crazy Love, Crazy Life, available on Lulu and Amazon.

suze@suzesomerville.co.uk

 


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