Life at Cohort 4 usually follows a peaceful pattern of activities, lunch, laughter and maybe a tear or two as survival takes it’s meandering path onwards. Yet intermittently, our team are required to become involved in advocacy or more active support. When working with women with lived experience of abuse, financial disadvantage and multiple needs, there can come crisis points and we bounce into action in a very coordinated and organised way. Just so last weekend!
One of our women with particular vulnerabilities was targeted by bailiffs for an alleged debt from years back, an inventory of property was gathered after a foot was pushed into the doorway and an entry coerced. Every item was highlighted for removal; mirrors, pictures, lamps, belongings, all were listed potentially leaving our women with her bed and nothing else. We stepped in, a formal letter was sent, phone calls were made by our Project Lead, advocacy and reassurance given to a distraught member of our small women’s community. Thankfully, disaster was diverted, no property was removed. On this occasion the right approach and result was achieved. Yet what about women without an advocacy or support service in their community? What happens where there are no women’s centres, no support networks?
Then another woman contacted us requiring support, “I can’t leave the house unless someone is with me. I feel a prisoner in my own home because I don’t know how to cope with panic attacks. I’m so lonely, I’m so frightened right now.”
A woman struggling in the evening, alone. Cohort 4 are there for our women, right at the end of What’s App. Reassurance, validation and company were given by a peer mentor, reducing the acute sense of loneliness at that time. An action plan of the specific needs of this woman was noted, what small but vital measures can be put in place to ensure that she feels part of a network of inclusion and doesn’t feel alone? Cohort 4 – part of a wonderful group of women coming together to support each other positively. Sometimes it’s the smallest things that community groups offer that have the most impact. Non time limited peer advocacy and support can have massive outcomes. Just knowing that you are not alone and are part of something special can be huge. A kind word and a little time was all that was needed this night.
Another issue, a cot needed for a growing new baby. In less than 3 hours a nearly new, gorgeous cot bed was located, purchased, collected & assembled. Our Cohort 4 community have addressed need, reduced the anxiety being caused and made an impact on financial disadvantage.
Hopefully the quiet pace of Cohort 4 can resume, keeping contact with the women just to reassure. Sometimes it’s the simplest community input that can make the most difference to the lives of women with multiple and complex needs. Cohort 4 goes back to the peaceful pattern of crafts, Margaret’s soup, homemade cake and a laugh with other wonderful women.