Ruth Jackson is the founder of South West charity Bluebell
The time has now passed for you to nominate your West Woman of the Year, which means in the coming weeks we will be shining a light on the women you, the readers, believe make the region an incredible place to live.
The awards are separated into five categories: Most outstanding woman in business; most outstanding woman in the charitable sector; most innovative woman; most outstanding BAME woman and the lifetime achievement award.
As well as these there is an overall winner which will be decided from a top 100 list (soon to be published), and a people’s choice award.
One woman who has been put forward for most outstanding woman in the charitable sector is Ruth Jackson.
Ruth is the CEO and founder of Bluebell – a charity that supports families through depression and anxiety related to pregnancy and birth.
The charity runs a centre in Bristol city centre as well as a service in South Devon. It has also recently announced the launch of a new group in South Gloucestershire.
Ruth said: “We found that women were travelling to the centre from places like Yate and Patchway for support, so a group that serves these areas was naturally the next step for us.”
The South Gloucestershire service is a ‘Mum’s Comfort Zone’ a 12-week course that allows parents to meet people, support each other and learn how to cope through low moods and anxiety.
Since its launch, the Bristol hub has helped hundreds of parents dealing with the effects of post-natal depression. And with around a quarter of all new mums having to face mental health issues, it’s no wonder the charity has become such a beloved service in the area it serves.
Since experiencing perinatal illness herself 20 years ago, Ruth has campaigned tirelessly to raise funds and awareness of the condition in an attempt to de-stigmatise and normalise the difficulties faced by many new parents.
Over the past six years Ruth has overseen the delivery of therapeutic programmes at local children’s centres.
These programmes lasted around 11 weeks and, from feedback, she learnt that while they were beneficial to attendees, parents were finding that once they were over there wasn’t somewhere people could turn to if they felt they needed extra support.
This led to Ruth campaigning for funding to launch Bristol’s first ever perinatal mental health hub – Bluebell Place in Quay Street.
Bluebell won won Voluntary Sector Team of the Year at Bristol Post’s Health and Care Awards last year
At the hub parents can take some ‘time out’, with the option of leaving their little ones with a playworker while they receive one-to-one support, enjoy a pamper session or take part in a crafting group.
The centre is open as a drop-in facility but also takes referrals from GPs, midwives and health visitors.
When told of her nomination, Ruth said: “Bluebell’s ethos is to help entire families not just mums.
“But by supporting women, we are creating the building blocks to helping society in general.”
West Women of the Year 2018, which is sponsored by Bank of Ireland, takes place on Thursday, April 12. The event will including a three course dinner and a talk by Green and Black’s founder Jo Fairley.
A list of the top 100 west women will be published in early March.
For more information or to book tickets for the awards night visit http://westwomenoftheyear.co.uk