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Bee You! retreat creates space for black women to grow

DOING IT TOGETHER: Jackie Bailey and others at the Tanje Village Museum

JACKIE BAILEY, founder and director of Bee You! Personal Development Ltd. spent a lifetime promoting, developing and advancing causes around gender and race before establishing herself as a consultant in 2012, primarily working with the NHS on equality, diversity and inclusion.

But Jackie said she reached a place where she ‘increasingly wanted to do more around the personal development of women and in particular black women’.

Jackie, who lives in Manchester, launched her first retreat in the UK in December 2016 and after a fact-finding mission last November she successfully planned the third – a two-centre retreat in the Gambia, which also included a five-star luxury pampering day at the five star Coco Ocean Hotel. The 11 women attending ranged in age from 23 to 59 years.

“I wanted to create a space for black women where they could have a personal development experience combined with culture, identity and the opportunity to visit a place they might never have gone to had it not been for this retreat,” she said.

“As well as sharing experiences and simply getting together as black women we were able to discover our roots. The theme of this retreat was be true to yourself and was based on self and sister love and compassion.” In addition to ‘three phenomenal speakers’, outdoor yoga sessions and visits to local organisations the women attended workshops, including a vegan workshop with a practical session, and also met with local Gambian women.


“My aim was to refute the images we see of African women on television,” added Jackie.

“We were joined by entrepreneurs and African business women. There were stalls and the women sold the things that they made.

“What’s important to me is that we are also supporting other economies. Paradise Suites, where we stayed, is Gambian-owned and the women practically bought out all of the stock from a Moringa product entrepreneur.”

Alicia Mike previously attended a Bee You! Retreat in the UK and encouraged her two sisters to come along with her to the Gambia. Alicia, who is director of Manchester Counselling Training Centre Ltd, said: “It was a truly reflective process for me. The retreat gave me a chance to galvanise my thoughts, allowing me to see where I am now and where I want to be in the future.”

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