Jude Munday.

Jude works as a pharmacist and has 3 children. She loves seeing the difference that encouragement and confidence can make to individuals, families and communities. Jude has a deep love for the community of Stafford and strives to see people equipped with the skills to truly help themselves and others.
Ange Disbury.

Ange works as a paediatric physiotherapist, specialising in supporting children with a disability. She has 3 young children of her own. Ange loves hearing peoples stories and getting to know them. She is deeply passionate about women knowing the truth of how wonderful they are.

Gemma Cherry.

Gemma works as a freelance stylist and regularly takes shifts at Candid bar in town. She has a young daughter and loves to make space for conversations about mental health and finding practical ways to build community. Gemma is passionate about helping people see their value and encouraging them to live authentically.

The Heart of Thrive - Jude Munday

“ If you’d told me a decade ago that I would start a women’s network, I’d have laughed. Really loud. I never wanted to be defined by my gender, and certainly didn’t want to do that to anyone else. But here we are, and I am the director of Thrive Women’s Network.

The thing that changed was that I started to listen to the women around me. 7 years working in a female dominated department at Stafford Hospital showed me what it looked like when great managers (who happened to be women), encouraged their staff to work flexibly and got the most out of their team. I saw women being honest and vulnerable and supporting each other in incredible, practical ways. I saw women who were creative, kind and capable providing a living for their family.

Ready for a career change, I left the department that I loved and spent a couple of years volunteering with the fantastic local charity, House of Bread. There I learnt that it’s not enough to just put on good services and hope that people turn up. You have to build community, and grow relationships. You have to listen.

As part of my work with House of Bread, I was visiting some parent and toddler groups, and talking and listening to women. Incredible women, supporting each other, starting businesses, negotiating complex health care systems to find support for their children. I started asking questions . . . what’s hard about being a mum? About being a woman in Stafford? What helps? Who helps? I met up with an old friend who’d started asking similar questions and together we began to really listen.

Each woman’s story was a brick in the foundation of Thrive, and themes started to occur. The words we heard again and again from women who were brave enough to be honest was that there were two common barriers to women thriving. They lacked confidence and many felt lonely.

I don’t think for a minute that these issues only affect women, but we saw that they looked different in women, and that the whole community was being held back because women weren’t flourishing.

We started to dream… What would Stafford looked like if women had the confidence to go through with their ideas? What businesses would start? Who would go back into education? Who would reach out to their neighbours or another mum in the park? Or stand up and represent their community in small conversations, actions or big policy decisions? If businesses embraced flexible working, how much more productive would our economy be?

And for those women going through tough circumstances, what if they weren’t alone? What if we could help connect women who can support each other and share their wisdom and experience?

And so Thrive began to take shape. The more we listened, the more we realised that we didn’t need to do anything ourselves, we just needed to turn the volume up on what was already going on. We didn’t need to be brilliant, but we needed to give a leg-up to women who already were. And we needed to listen and tell stories. Your story. The story of how you cope caring for an elderly relative, the story of how you started a business because you wanted to earn a living in a way that fitted around family, the story of how someone noticed you were new in an area and reached out, the story of your grief or success or ongoing battles to get the support you need.

I don’t know what the future holds for me or for Thrive, but I’m pretty sure the future for our community is brighter if women are cheering each other on. *Fetches pom-poms*.”
Thrive Womens Network 2020