Women’s health at risk: Pregnancy changed me

Started afresh: Georgia Hall turned away from a life of alcohol.
Started afresh: Georgia Hall turned away from a life of alcohol.

GEORGIA Hall grew up thinking heavy drinking was normal.

The daughter of an alcoholic mum, she spent much of her teens and 20s surrounded by drinkers, and developed anorexia and bulimia.

But her life changed on Christmas Day, 1994, when she was so drunk she remembers nothing but waking up with a black eye.

That day she discovered she was pregnant and decided to change her life.

Now aged 46, happily married with a son and a daughter, Georgia runs two businesses, including a new fitness studio on Ecclesall Road South, and this year was shortlisted for the UK Extraordinary Women awards.

Georgia thinks heavy drinking among women will not change until the national culture is changed.

“It’s a problem with our culture,” she said. “You just don’t have it in other countries - young people don’t go out for a drink, they go out to get drunk.”

But she thinks one of the main reasons behind health problems among women is stress.

“Most women don’t just go out to work - they run the house, do most of the housework and look after the kids.

“Many of the women who come through my door don’t have time to exercise or stay healthy. And a lot more are turning to drink because they are more stressed.”

Michelle Smedley, aged 33, a public health worker in Southey Green, one of the most deprived area of the city, says the economic climate has made things much worse.

“The spending cuts are hitting everyone around here and prices are going up,” she said.

“People are more stressed, and they resort to drinking and smoking, so of course it affects their health.”

She thinks women are better than men at seeking help when they are ill, but government cuts are making it harder for organisations to help people who bury their problems.

Michelle’s charity Community Health Works has lost much of its funding, which means it is less able to try to reverse the tide.

“We need more resources to get out and help people get healthy,” she said. “But the cuts are making it harder.”

* For more information about Community Health Works visit www.healthworks.org.uk