I’ve been volunteering with WEN for two and a half months and it’s been such a valuable and fulfilling experience that I find it difficult to put it into words without reverting to every single cliché I can think of. Having written and rewritten this blog a thousand times, I’ve realised that I’m unable to escape the clichés, so I’ve decided to embrace them! So strap yourselves in, get your sick bowls at the ready, and prepare for the soppiest, mushiest blog you can imagine, as I use metaphors, idioms and hyperboles to describe my experience in WENderland.
I jumped straight on the bandwagon the moment I arrived, and I realised that WEN really do practice what they preach in terms of their participatory values. On my first day I was invited to a meeting so that I could be involved in the discussion; on day two I was attending a training session with the whole team. This continued throughout my time at WEN, and I was able to spread my wings, given the space to manage my own tasks, being trusted in an inclusive environment where everybody’s opinion is taken on board. In the two months, I was involved in the organisation of events, the drafting of copy such as press releases and newsletters, and the development of our brand. Though only a volunteer, I felt like an equal, and in no time I was part of the furniture.
What I slowly began to realise, though, is that WEN don’t show off enough about how much they really do. Of course, you should never judge a book by its cover, but I assumed that WEN’s main focus was the Environmenstrual Campaign, being the largest section of the website. However, WEN’s eggs are in many baskets, and their projects are far-reaching, from offering therapeutic horticulture to women’s refuges, to teaching sustainable cooking, to exploring the issues within our food system. Multitasking is second nature to these superwomen, and I only wish the whole world knew about the incredible projects the team work on.
The working culture at WEN is out of this world. With the aim of being feminist and overcoming established patriarchal structures, working life is supportive and comfortable, unlike any other office environment I’ve experienced. We spend most of the day talking about our periods, bring cake and share lunches as a family.
Even though I’ve only been at WEN a short time, I’ve adopted it as my own baby. On my personal social media, I have showcased some of WEN’s events and day-to-day work, and at my part-time job I haven’t shut up about ways people can learn from WEN to be more sustainable. The response I’ve received in return has been astonishing, with people messaging me on Facebook asking to help them with projects, on Instagram about where to find menstrual cups, and colleagues running up to me at work to tell me they had changed habits. WEN gave me a legitimate platform to spread the word, and I now feel part of a movement that makes a real impact.
Now, I have to make one thing clear. WEN, as an organisation, is by no means a cliché itself. I’ve already touched upon how they do things differently, and how my working experience has stuck out as positively unique. It is only because my experience has been so fantastic that I’m using all these clichés, since it’s been nothing short of a fairy tale.
Though time flies, I’ll now always be a WEN woman, and I’m proud. I’m probably going to get #WENForever printed on a t-shirt, because, honestly, I really have had the time of my life.
Sofia Knowles, Volunteer Communications Officer