National Fertility Awareness Week

Turning Creativity into a Sponsored Event


Hello lovely friends

It’s late Autumn – a time of luminous spiders’ webs and rich colours and IMG_1211
here in the UK,  National Fertility Awareness Week is nearly upon us. Between 30 October and 5 November, the media will be promoting fertility initiatives ranging from educating young people about their fertility to supporting people going through the fertility treatment process and those who have come to the end of that process and are facing life without children.  It’s a particularly noteworthy year as this is the 40th anniversary of the first IVF treatment ever performed.

Obviously, all these initiatives have a heightened importance for me and I am heartened by the fact that fertility issues are written and talked about far more openly than ever before. When I was in the depths of my own sense of loss and grief, it felt like it was still a taboo subject – that fertility loss, pregnancy loss and the long term grief of childlessness was unseen, unheard and un-acknowledged. Things have changed and are still changing – hallelujah!

During National Fertility Awareness Week many people will be raising money for their favourite fertility charity. One of these is Fertility Network UK – a charity close to my heart as they helped me through some dark times and they continue to help thousands of men and women going through treatment or who are living without children, giving advice, support and information. One part of the charity is called More To Life and supports people who are childless through circumstance.

In a moment of (I hope not misguided) enthusiasm, I committed to raising funds for Fertility Network UK and I wracked my brains to think of how I could do this. My knee joints are shot to pieces from running marathons in my 30s. I don’t own a bike. As I work in the realm of ‘talking therapy’, a sponsored silence would be professional suicide. Parachute jump? Not a chance in hell! Bungee jump? Having a laugh!

It struck me that so many sponsored events are either sport or sugar orientated, for example sponsored cycling or cake sales. These are brilliant ways to raise money but why shouldn’t a creative activity have just as much gravitas as sport or sugar? So the idea I came up with? A sponsored Poem-athon!

I’m merging two of my favourite pastimes – photography and poetry – and writing a poem for each day of NFAW on one of the ‘themes’ of fertility, matching it with a photo and putting the results on social media and my blog. Not at all daunting, then!

The reason I am telling you this is to let you know that every day next week there will be a new poem and photo on my blog which will be a small gift to say thank you for following and reading Without Issue. So do stop by for a small pause in your day. I hope you find the poems and photos resonate.

The process of doing this creative project has been illuminating. For some of the poems I had to revisit painful moments. For others it has been a joy to recount a story of emergence that I hope will give others faith that there is a life beyond parenthood. What I feel very strongly is that the poems have been there, inside me, waiting to surface. They have also helped to re-frame some of the difficult stuff, to find containers for some of the sadness and a couple of the poems represent mini megaphones through which I’ve shouted, “I’m here! I’m alive! I count!”

Once I’ve had time to recoup and re-group, I’ll have space to digest and think about, in more detail, the effect the whole process my writing marathon has produced and I hope to write about this in a future post.

The poems and photos will also be on Twitter – @withoutissue and Instagram – debgsloan.

If you are doing anything for National Fertility Awareness Week, it would be great to hear about it. Or if you have a thought or a comment you’d like to share about what NFAW means to you, feel free to comment here – you can do so anonymously if prefer. Just send a message or comment, telling me that you’d prefer your name not to appear.

Until next week, lovely readers.


I understand completely we all have choices to make about who we support and that we cannot possibly respond to every request for donations. But if any of you out there are interested in sponsoring me and supporting Fertility Network UK, it would remiss of me not to provide details!

On my Just Giving page My Just Giving Page here you can sponsor me per poem or give a one-off teeny (or huge!) donation. Even if you just pay me to stop writing the poems, I’ll take that too!

Here are the main advantages of this plan:

  • I get to save what’s left of my knees.
  • Fertility Network UK receives valuable funds to help them to continue their work supporting, advocating for, and lobbying on behalf of people who experience often life-changing fertility issues.
  • You actually get something out of this – a small moment to pause in your day, a tiny gift from me to you.
  • I get to mostly sit down during this whole sponsoring thing.


Thank you.P1030613

2 thoughts on “National Fertility Awareness Week

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