Well Women Health Check Ups

At The Loyal Workshop we aim to offer a whole-body physical health check-up to all female staff members every two years. Unfortunately, the COVID pandemic caused us to have to postpone these Well Women Health Checks by a year, and so as mid-2022 rolled around we were pumped to finally be able to get things underway! The Well Women Health Checks are always highly anticipated by the Loyal ladies. The initial trip to the hospital turns out to be a fun day out of the office, chatting amongst ourselves in the lulls between tests, fuelled by camaraderie and curiosity, and ending with the tradition of eating an ice-cream on the side of the road before returning to the workshop. Any necessary dietary changes kick in after that very important ice-cream! In the weeks following the initial health check-ups, myself and my amazing social work colleague, Aradhana, remain busy gathering test results and talking with the doctor. Then comes meeting one-on-one with every artisan to chat through what has come to light, and triaging cases. Then, actively supporting each artisan to follow-up any health concerns, encouraging them along the way when they feel discouraged and celebrating with them through the wins – be it a new medication that has begun to work effectively or experiencing a doctor that has treated them with dignity and respect.

If you live in a neighbourhood such as Bowbazar for long enough, you begin to understand that proactively taking care of one’s health is a privilege only afforded (both literally and figuratively) to those who have both wealth and the extra mental and emotional capacity to seek to understand what is really happening inside their bodies. Poverty and trauma take their toll on the entirety of a person’s health, not least of all one’s physical body, and it is a cruel reality that those on the fringes of society, such as our neighbours in Bowbazar, are so often the people who are given least access to such a basic and important right. At Loyal we understand this to be a justice issue and our Social Support Team has a deep desire to see all Loyal artisans empowered in their physical bodies and supported to confidently access the healthcare that they need without shame, misunderstanding or stigma. At its heart, that is what these Well Women Health Checks are about – providing an opportunity to come together and understand our bodies a little more clearly and how they actually function; being educated about the importance of regular health check-ups and feeling empowered to care for ourselves, as well as seek professional care for others; small steps towards feeling confident in addressing personal health concerns and learning to support one another through various health challenges; and in the end, demystifying it all so that taking small but consistent steps in favour of our wellbeing begins to feel less overwhelming in a society that seems to tell us otherwise.

- Lizzie