Karen Williams, the founder of the Buddy Bag Foundation is an inspiration.
I met her at the end of 2016 at a local networking meeting in Cannock.
She came to speak to us about the work that the Buddy Bag Foundation does but she was also on a mission.
As Karen was explaining about what the Foundation does, what their aim and mission is, I could feel myself well up with emotion as I could relate only too well to the situation that children and their parent find themselves in after leaving an unsafe environment fuelled by domestic violence.
Unfortunately, how I know that the work of the Buddy Bag Foundation really does make a difference is because I have found myself in a similar situation.
I was very fortunate that I did not have to stay in a refuge but a family friend who lived 50 miles away from where I lived, offered to give me and my two boys a roof over our heads as a temporary measure.
What I can relate to is the devastation and loss that I felt by having to leave my house, my home, my job, my friends and my family to get away from the situation I found myself in.
Being able to pack a few possessions into a small van was a fortunate position for me to be in as I packed up some belongings.
I left everything else I had or knew behind and escaped into the unknown with no money and no job.
I felt alone, desperate and fearful but trying to keep myself together for the sake of my boys. Arriving at my destination, I felt safer but still scared for us all and worried about the future.
My mental health was somewhat dented through years of mental abuse and of course, I had suffered an all-time low to be in such a place of desperation to get the strength to leave.
Once I had gathered myself together I went in search of support and help in my new location.
After some searching I found the support that we needed and regularly went for support and counselling sessions at a safe house.
The children were cared for and played with the house staff whilst I could talk with a counsellor and begin to put my life back together.
This support was provided to me free of charge, I had no money so the generosity of the people who helped and supported me when I really needed them the most was something that I could not find the words to thank them enough or even repay them.
My boys were fortunate to be able to have a few treasured items that they brought with them from home and I know that these treasures really made a difference to them.
I know how the Buddy Bags and the contents inside, a mix of practical and emotional, can really help children who find themselves in emergency care.
It gives them something special to hold on to and helps them to know that they are loved and to go a little way to soften the blow of a traumatic experience.
It is a huge comfort to the parent too, the relief that someone actually cares and that such a gesture can really give out a huge ray of hope for the future.
There’s no getting away from the reality that most parents who find themselves in this position are at an all time low, mentally and physically and the care and love packed into a Buddy Bag can really make such a huge difference to their own life and the beginnings of recovery and building a new life.
So, at the networking meeting when Karen asked for help to send out the Foundation’s regular newsletters, I jumped at the chance to donate my services.
My way to give something to help others like me and their families and to say “thank you” to those who helped me on the road to recovery and to a new life.
If you are a business with a skill set that could be put to good use to support The Buddy Bag Foundation, then please do get in touch with them at firstname.lastname@example.org and see how you and your skills can help make a difference today.
You can also join a Buddy Bag packing session like I did and took my family along.
You can really get hands on and see how your contribution can really help. Visit the events page on Facebook to see when the next bag packs are taking place. Visit the Buddy Bag Foundation Events Page here. Together we can make a difference.