Our founder, Neelam Heera, started Cysters in 2015 as way to combat some of the misconceptions around reproductive health.
Neelam felt that issues around reproductive health were often trivialised by healthcare professionals and sexualised by the ethnic community due to outdated cultural beliefs, male dominated spaces and patriarchy.
What started as social media page to vent some of her frustrations at her diagnosis and lack of understanding, grew into a support group for other people with similar stories to a registered charity. She then decided to leave her legal career, to upscale and grow the charity. The charity is inclusive and work with individuals living with reproductive and mental health issues, often tackling sensitive and personal subjects. The growth has been organic and reflective of the cultural and community needs around reproductive health.
In 2019 the charity decided to change its registered name from, “Cysters – Womens Support and Awareness Group” to “Cysters” – to reflect its commitment to inclusivity.
The logo was updated to reflect this change, adding in the strap line, “Taking up space, together,” as a reflection of the ethos of the organisation. Whilst we understand everyone has different barriers to healthcare or support, we want everyone to acknowledge that this is a respectful and safe space for everyone. Often marginalised communities are left out of conversations that concern them, not reflected in research, tokenized and they are never invited to the table to help make changes that will filter down to grassroots communities.
Our logo reflects our need to create our own tables, reclaim our narrative and stand together to challenges these health inequalities.
We cannot create change without community, and we want to cultivate community that is supportive, understanding and an understanding of barriers for others. Recognizing privilege is the first step to supporting others with their journey, using our own privilege to create this space makes us proud to taking these steps amongst our Cysters. We are taking up space, together.
The logo also has a “v” sign – representing Virginity. Our founder felt that this was a topic that needed addressing and has used Cysters as a platform to deconstruct the virginity myth, and reclaim our own narrative. Find out more about our views here – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jyOAIgkid9w
We are a community led charity and as part of our values we follow our four principles.
The Cysterhood is more than individuals with health issues, it is an inclusive community representing people from all walks of life bonding over shared experiences.
We recognise that we are not the experts and are willing to collaborate to support our Cysters to achieve the best outcome for them.
We care for each of our Cysters and as such we expect each Cyster to be represented regardless of background.
We want to make sure all Cysters are educated enough to become their own health advocates in order to make the best choices for their lifestyle and gain confidence in being that self-advocate.