This is the year that will be remembered by many for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. For others the outstanding feature will be the Olympic Games. It is a special year in many ways, and also a very special one for Pathway as we will have been a Registered Charity for 21 years in August.
It has been a long process of growth that has taken us from a helpline in a bedroom, to a much more formalised and professional organisation. However, along that journey we have been careful not to lose our ‘heart’ for the people we work with. We remain firmly committed to meeting the needs of women and children.
We have learned so much in the 21 years. I hope that these lessons pass on for the next 21 years because the changes in legislation, the changes in working practices and the changes in how domestic abuse is addressed are nothing if we don’t continue to maintain our respect and care for the people we are working with and for. These are our priorities and learning points:
- Age, size, culture, intellect – domestic abuse can and does affect anyone and the way it makes you feel is the same whether you are 16 or 60, and whatever your cultural background.
- A smile goes a long way. Being kind, being caring and taking an interest makes people realise that we value them.
- We never stop learning – if we ever feel that we know it all we are wrong and would like to have that pointed out, kindly.
- It is the simple things in life that help – having a safe place to sleep, having a meal and a hot drink, being warm. Once those things are in place we can work on the rest of the problems.
- A sense of humour can help to keep us sane.
- Crying is fine, tears can be healing and letting go of the emotions happens when you feel safe.
- Feeling at home is important, even if that home is only short term.
- Keeping yourself healthy in mind and body is vital.
- Don’t feel guilty. You make decisions that are the right ones at that moment in time. If they are wrong you can generally do a U turn and people respect you for being honest about it.
- Remember to tell people that you love them. Your family, your friends, everyone who helps you get through the day. Thank you is a great thing to say.
- Enjoy those special moments that happen and let them make up for the sadness or difficulties. You will get more special moments as you start to recover.
I don’t know how Pathway will look in another 21 years. I never imagined it would have grown so much in the last 21 years. It is an exciting journey, and we hope that those lessons will help us to keep providing the sort of services that people want to be involved with. Here’s to the next 21 years.