Storyhouse Childless is a day of events to explore living without children. It is a day for building community, meeting new people and hearing people’s personal stories. The event will be held at Storyhouse on 10 September. Kirstie Higgins who brought the idea for the event to our Communities Manager, Nicola Haigh, back in 2019 tells us more.
Hi Kirstie, can you tell us a bit about yourself?
I live just outside of Chester with my husband, Ed and our dog, Millie. When I could work, I enjoyed various careers, all related to the performing arts, but now I am retired due to ill health. I am childless due to fertility issues on Ed’s side and health and circumstantial issues on mine. Finding myself to be involuntarily and permanently childless six years ago was shocking and something that I was not prepared for at all. Following that, I also found society to be extremely pronatal in its outlook, which made me feel very excluded at times.
Thankfully, I found the work of Jody Day and her group Gateway Women, which is a global friendship, support and advocacy network for childless women. I host the Chester group now, and we meet up once a month to socialise and support each other in what we have found to be a very family centric society.
How did you come up with the idea for Storyhouse Childless?
I attended a few events at Storyhouse Women in 2019. It was great but I was disappointed that the childless community didn’t seem to be represented in the programming. I met up with Storyhouse’s fabulous communities manager, Nicola Haigh, to discuss whether there were any potential spaces in Storyhouse where we could host some Gateway Women meetings. I was quite nervous as I know that it can sometimes take people a while to get their heads around childlessness, but Nicola was great and already familiar with Jody’s work. Storyhouse genuinely wants to meet the needs of all communities, so this snowballed into discussing an actual event for the involuntarily permanently childless community.
In November 2019, we ran the first Storyhouse Childless event. I was worried that it might not be well attended but it was a success! It was so good to be able to listen to others’ varied experiences of coming to and living a childless life.
What is Storyhouse Childless and what do you hope people will get out of it?
This year, Storyhouse Childless had broadened its horizons; we are running the event for both the childless not by choice and the childless by choice communities. Both communities share common ground as we all have to navigate life in a society that is predominantly set up to promote and support the needs of families and parents.
On the day, there will be a variety of childless people sharing their stories, running creative activities and most importantly, there will be the opportunity to meet and socialise with other people and share experiences. People can come along to a couple of talks or stay for the whole day and enjoy Victoria Firth’s very funny performance, How to Be Amazingly Happy.
The flexibility means that you can pick and choose the events that you want to attend, as well as build in time to relax and meet some people. Some of the people who I met through the last event have become my friends and it is great to have more people in my life who I can relate to. I hope that the event will also help to promote awareness of childlessness within the larger community too.
Visit the Storyhouse Childless hub to find out more: Storyhouse Childless – Storyhouse