At Glow, one of the ways that we help people facing domestic abuse is through our group support programmes. They’re a vital way that we can support people facing abuse, help them understand what they went through and how they can rebuild their lives.
Two of our programmes are the Freedom programme and Recognise and Reconnect.
The Freedom programme helps participants understand the dynamics of abuse and learn the tools they need to rebuild their lives. Recognise and Reconnect is our parenting programme. Sessions help parents develop the skills they need to move on and start a new chapter with their children after experiencing abuse.
Glow volunteer Lily* took part in both programmes, now she supports us as a volunteer. She co-facilitates sessions and offers support and advice to participants who are in the same position that she once was.
Lily was with her abusive ex-partner for six years, but she’d experienced abusive partners since her first relationship at 13.
She’d faced years of abuse and nearly took her own life – until she found Glow.
She’s now started a new chapter and gives back to people facing abuse in their relationships as a volunteer, using her own lived experience.
Lily said: “Before I came to Glow, I had nowhere to turn. I felt like there was no way out. I couldn’t see how things were going to get better.
“I can remember driving myself to the train station, ready to take my own life. I couldn’t see any other way out of the situation.
“I don’t know what stopped me, but I decided to go home and look online to see what help was available. That’s when I found Glow and gave them a call.
“I can still remember my first session of the Freedom programme. It was hard because it was the very first step for me, but the atmosphere was just lovely.
“You quickly realise just how many people are in the same situation as you.
“The first session can be hard because it’s the very first step, but after the first few you realise just how many people are in the same situation as you.
“There’s no judgement at all, everyone just comes together and supports each other.
“The staff are brilliant too. They never judge you and they’re never shocked at what you say. That listening ear, kindness and support was just invaluable at such a difficult time.
“Without the Freedom programme, I probably wouldn’t be here today. I can’t praise the programmes enough – they are absolutely fantastic.
“Each session bought me further to who I am today. I’m so much happier now and have the tools and knowledge to protect myself.
“It’s so valuable to have volunteers who have experience of relationship abuse because they understand everything – they just get it.”
Lily started volunteering over two years ago and hasn’t looked back.
She continued: “I’m always open to talking about my relationships and how I came to be a volunteer at Glow. I’ll never hide the fact that I’ve been in the same situation as the people on the programme.
“I’d love for the people on the programme to see me as proof that you can come out the other side. I’m a different person now because of Glow. People see me and can’t believe the change!
“When you’re in an abusive relationship you can become so isolated and lose your friends. Now I can be whoever I want to be and do whatever I like – it’s been absolutely lifechanging.
“Volunteering and giving back has helped me to take back control of what I went through. If I can help one person, then what I went through was worth it.”
This year, we’re looking for more volunteers with lived experience to help us with our group programmes.
Operations Manager Jackie Capewell said: “Volunteers are such a valued part of Glow. Their support is vital in making sure our services meet our customer’s needs.
“We welcome volunteers from all walks of life, including those with lived experience.
“We offer lots of training and support so that volunteers can learn and develop with us while they help keep our services running to such a high standard.
“There’s lots of opportunities for volunteers within Glow, from co-facilitating group programmes to answering phone calls and emails from customers. Whatever you choose to do, you’ll make a huge difference to our customers.”
*name changed to protect identity.
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