Free Maternity Comeback Workshops

18 October 2016 | 8 Comments

communityOur open programme maternity and career comeback workshops will continue in 2017 from our base in St Albans, Hertfordshire. We know that many women don’t have access to the kind of support we provide our clients’ maternity returners and with this in mind, part of our ‘giving back’ each year is hosting a series of two-hour ‘maternity comeback’ workshops that are absolutely free to the individuals taking part. The first ones took place in March 2014 with women from organisations such as IBM, the University of East London and Standard Life taking part – perhaps you read about them in the Guardian? Jessica Chivers, The Talent Keeper Specialists founder and author of Mothers Work! (Hay House, 2011) takes up the story.

Please email Trish at to register your interest in attending.

Maternity returner ‘comeback’ workshops – The Motivation

“Listening to Pinky Lilani OBE in conversation with Jane Garvey for the BBC Radio 4 Woman’s Hour Power List made me realise I’d been reigning in a desire to bring women together to support each other’s return to work. Too many women lack support from their employers and these sessions plug the gap. Participants tell us they’re valuable and they love the relaxed environment – women travelling 500 miles says it all. We continue to choose to run them from my home in St Albans rather than a more formal setting.  Each comes with (home-made) cake and without cost to participants.”

Our 2017 programme includes number of ‘Career Comeback’ workshops specifically for individuals who have taken a longer break than maternity/APL and want to reignite their careers. We are delighted to be collaborating with Inclusivity in to give career comeback workshop participants the inside track on creating powerful CVs and preparing to make the best impression at interview.

As with the first workshops in 2014, participants co-create the agenda on the day so we tackle exactly what’s relevant to you and there’ll be no powerpoint slides, no lecturing, no crying babies (this is grown-up headspace time for you, so you might want to find a friend you can do a babysit swapsy with) and no cost to participate.

The next dates are:

  • Monday 16th October, 12.30-2.30pm (Career Comeback workshop)
  • Friday 17th November, 12.30-2.30pm (Maternity Comeback workshop)

If you interested in finding out more, or attending a workshop, please email and we’ll get back to you shortly.

Participant views


“I found it a hugely informative, inspiring and reassuring (I’m not the only one with these doubts/struggles etc) session – compliments on your excellent facilitation skills, making us think and challenge ourselves and the unhelpful norms we are (often) aspiring to. Thank you so much!” Participant, H M Treasury.

“Thank you for the wonderful workshop – I have been floating on that cloud of buoyancy for most of the time since and have been so very productive in terms of moving forward professionally.” Sorrel Osborne, Consultant to the non-corporate world.

“I liked Jessica’s ability to keep the discussion coming back to practical suggestions and actions, and her experience and expertise really helped tailor her actions to each point / concern. I left feeling energised and positive about my options. Jessica’s ability to break down actions into practical steps, and her encouragement of everyone in the group to take control of their situations helped make future changes seem achievable.” Roz Sims, Management Consultant.

“The workshop was very positive. It was helpful to hear from the employers’ perspective and also to meet others in similar situation. The time blocking and prioritisation ideas were also helpful. It was great that the session was free but I also think you could have charged (say £25) for the session and everyone would have come along. It would also be great to see some webinars to encourage engagement between potential ‘talent returners’ and employers.” Nadine Robinson, Career Comeback Workshop Participant.

“Thank you for giving me the opportunity to attend the Maternity Comeback Workshop. It was great to have a safe and inspiring environment to explore mixed feelings about returning to work. Much that I am excited to return to work, like many women I have fears and confidence issues that I wanted to discuss with like minded career women and find some practical solutions. Jessica and my fellow course participants helped inspire me with practical solutions to both personal and professional problems. I feel more confident now and armed with tools to go back and be as good, if not better at my old role.” Louise Summers, Maternity Comeback Workshop Participant

“Some really good tips about how to present my career break to employers in a positive way and some sound advice on asking for flexible working. It’s got me thinking about how to find my ideal “hidden” job. I came away feeling more enthused and determined to work on a strategy for finding a job that would fit my need for flexibility. Thank you, Jessica, for giving up your time to host this positive event.” Vicky Hanks, Career Comeback Workshop Participant.

“I like the fact it is specifically for mums who are returning at a different stage to straight after maternity leave. Jessica has good energy and gave helpful answers to specific questions on techniques to try and things to say/do. I liked committing to specific actions before leaving.” Sarah Roberts, Career Comeback Workshop Participant.

“After devoting myself to raising my children I really wanted to return to work. When I saw Jessica’s workshop I was hopeful it might give me some fresh ideas. I had always loved working and really missed it. Not only did I get some great ideas but it was so good to talk to other women in a similar situation. So many of the workshop attendees were talented, hardworking women who were just trying to find how to balance a career and motherhood. I came away feeling inspired and motivated by Jessica and my fellow attendees.” Rachel Godwin, Career Comeback Workshop Participant, now back in work.

“I enjoyed the workshop and felt energised afterwards. There were a number of things raised that I feel will be of benefit to me on returning to work/negotiating return. I really appreciated the opportunity to be part of this workshop. Talking through potential issues ahead and listening to others views helped to see positive ways forward and also appreciate the good things that have already occurred! Thank you.” Lexy, Maternity Comeback Workshop Participant

“Jessica made me think again about some decisions I had previously made, which now means I’m making the right choices for me and my family. Loved the way we were sat round the kitchen table and built our agenda from introductions. I’m so glad Jessica does this ‘give-back’ as it really built on what I had learnt from the book. Looking forward to applying wider than just my return to work.” Lucy, Travis Perkins

“I was looking forward to returning to work but was concerned about how people would feel about me now I’m a mum and have other priorities as well as work. Having come to the workshop I now feel able to go back confident and with a new perspective. The most useful parts for me were the discussions on how to deal with guilt and setting boundaries for work and home life.” Lucy W, Environmental Director

“I really enjoyed the workshop, and left feeling really energised about taking the reins for my return to work later this year, especially as I am taking on a new role on my return.  I came away feeling much more confident that I had tools at my disposal to make a smooth transition, and techniques to use on an ongoing basis.” Alison Benson, Compliance and Governance Manager

“Being a free workshop I didn’t know quite what to expect, however I needn’t have worried because it gave me the much needed clarity and reassurance I was seeking to return back to work confident and knowing exactly what I want! No question is silly or stupid. Jessica’s friendly manner and expert experience puts you at instant ease. Would highly recommend for all mothers who are feeling a little ‘out of the game’ and perhaps uncertain or confused about returning to the workplace after maternity leave. R.E, Maternity Comeback Workshop Participant

“I just wanted to say a big thank you for yesterday, it was really refreshing and inspiring to see so many driving mothers looking for their path in life. It was good to know I’m not alone out there!” Dahlia, Career Comeback Workshop Participant

“I just wanted to say a BIG thank you for yesterday’s session. It really was fantastic to meet you and share experiences and challenges with others, and so incredibly kind of you to give up your time. I came away feeling reassured, inspired and excited for the future, whatever that turns out to be!” Gaynor, Career Comeback Workshop Participant

“It gave me space and time to consider what I need to do to have a smooth return to work – that was really valuable. We covered emotional things as well as some of the mechanics of how to balance work and home. The small group meant we all had airtime to share our ideas and concerns and benefit from one another’s views. I’d definitely recommend doing this at least a couple of months before returning to work.” Nimila Patwardhan, IBM.

“Jessica has a generosity of spirit that extends to meet the individual needs of women, and is able to offer simple and appropriate strategies that you can readily put into practice. I am grateful for her suggestions and wholeheartedly recommend her briefing sessions for other mothers navigating the return to work.” Katie Wright, University of East London

“Thank you for a wonderful afternoon. I found your suggestions extremely helpful and left with a spring in my step and generally feeling less daunted about returning to work.” Grace Sentamu-Baverstock, Vicar of St Luke’s Leagrave

“I found the workshop a good use of a day, despite my travel from Edinburgh! Jessica is a great coach and is able to tease the answers out of you rather than give you them, making it a much more valuable experience. I had to do some soul searching and actually have still not come up with some answers to the difficult questions she suggested that we address during the session. Fortunately I have a few months left until my return to work so have time to sit and think. I have since had a very positive discussion with my line manager and look forward to returning to work in July on my terms and with a more positive mindset towards things like the management of guilt and the focus on ‘we time’.” Participant from Standard Life

What we’ll cover during the workshop

FYIWe’ll work through your pressing issues about returning to work with the aim of leaving you feeling better equipped and more upbeat about any challenges that might lie ahead. We’ll get some sense of what you’d like to cover, ahead of the session via the registration of interest form, so we can dive straight in on the day. There are just eight spaces at each event and we’ll write to you individually to confirm you have a place.

Do bring your own lunch and we’ll provide the tea and cakes to go with it. It will be a relaxed and informal, yet focussed and productive two hour session in a comfortable, modern environment. Address to follow by separate e-mail to individual participants.

Depending on what you bring to the metaphorical and actual kitchen table, we’re likely to cover some of the following themes:

  • Re-establishing relationships with significant colleagues
  • Getting off on the right foot with a tricky line manager
  • Childcare – practicalities and emotion around it
  • Re-negotiating your role – what you do and how you do it
  • Flexible working – negotiating for, and, how to make it work
  • Career development next steps
  • Finding time for life beyond work and children
  • Coping as a single parent or managing a ‘reluctant’ partner
  • How to handle a big job when you were stretched before becoming a parent
  • Managing conflicted feelings about being a working parent

Is this for you?

career_returnerThe maternity comeback session is open to anyone who is currently on maternity leave. Most of my current work is with mid-level to senior professional women, across a range of industries, and I have those women in mind when thinking about the style and substance of the afternoon. Given this is a small gathering, if your natural preference is to sit at the back of meetings and keep quiet, this might not be for you.

Please do forward this invitation to the friends and colleagues you think it will appeal. If you have taken a longer career break after having children and are now keen to return to work, do register your interest for the ‘Career Comeback’ workshops aimed specifically at you. The next one will be in 2017 – dates to appear here in November.

Register your interest

If you like the sound of the maternity comeback workshop and would like to attend the next date or register your interest for one later in the year, please complete the short register of interest form.

How employers can help

We are seeking sponsors around the UK for industry-specific maternity comeback workshops. Avanade sponsored a workshop for people seeking a return to technology in spring 2016. Drop us a line if this is something your organisation might be interested in – it’s a new and inexpensive way to tap into people with valuable skills.

8 Responses to "Free Maternity Comeback Workshops"

  1. Pingback: My mothers & guilt piece for the Guardian | Jessica Chivers

  2. Pingback: The Talent Keeper Specialists - My mothers & guilt piece for the Guardian | Talent Keepers

  3. karen potton says:

    hello, I am not a mum on maternity leave, though I was 3 years ago. I had trouble re-integrating back into the workplace and leaving my twins at home, especially as my little boy has down syndrome and I wanted to make sure he was well looked after before I could go back to work. I work for Hertfordshire police and run our internal maternity drop-in sessions where staff on maternity leave can come and talk to HR, us and Unison about coming back into the workplace. I would be keen to go on one of these workshops to see what issues mums face nowadays and use that as an opportunity to look at whether we should be doing anything else at our drop-in sessions. If you feel this is not appropriate, I would welcome the chance to meet with you separately instead. Karen

  4. Alfreda Hunter says:

    I am interested in attending the career comeback workshop

  5. Ameera says:

    I am interested in the return in the comeback maternity workshop in November please.

  6. Rachel says:

    I am interested in the career comeback workshop this Friday please..

  7. Tania says:

    I might be unique to some others here, but I do believe in my abilities to get back to work and to be a productive and valuable employee – after taking a few years out to raise a family. My biggest issue is tackling the stigma of the gatekeepers for these roles and to be considered again for a role without recent experience. I was actually told by one agency that there was no way they could represent my cv, given my lack of work over the past few years, and that my previous experience was not evident (despite a comprehensive cv).
    I also found help sites tell you to dress up your time off by showcasing your time management experience and multi-tasking, etc. All of which don’t work for more senior roles and I feel belittles the rest of your CV as result, More often than not you are addressing another woman who has children herself and is doing all of that AND working already.
    It is terribly demotivating when you realize you would have been better off not taking the time off for your family, and just juggling both kids and work, just so you won’t be penalized when you try to return to work. How can you convince a potential employer of your value when you cannot get past the CV?

  8. Pingback: Free Maternity Comeback Workshops |

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