‘Never heard of it!’ I hear you cry. That has been the heading for the last year at least for the thank you letters we have received from the women’s refuge, and which have been pinned to the notice board.
This harvest weekend was the first time in a good number of years when I didn’t stand at the front of the church to ask for help, and explain why we were asking for your continuing support for what happens at the refuge. It was wonderful after the harvest weekend to take a car loaded with dry goods of all sorts, along with a bulging envelope, almost £200, to the manager. I cannot describe adequately how grateful they are at the refuge, close to tears in fact, for our continuing commitment and support, bearing in mind particularly that they cannot advertise their presence or their needs.
And what are those needs? I have personally known only one lady who sought help at the refuge, having been picked up from the road by a neighbour, and arriving with a black eye, one shoe, and no coat. More often it is families who have for many reasons left their home carrying little or nothing. No favourite toy, no favourite cuddly coat.
So Changing Pathways aims to do just what its name says. They provide a secure environment, and try to make things as natural as possible. This means helping with food (sometimes from the Food Bank), bedding, clothes, and some little extras too. They try to put a small cuddly toy on the pillow of each new child arrival, and supply birthday and Christmas gifts, and of course essential clothing. This is where your treats of toiletries come in, and your cash. The mothers receive Asda vouchers, so they can buy basic school uniform, other items from within the Asda range which the children are happy to wear, and maybe the toy or sweets they know the children would like.
So, from me and from Allyson at the refuge, thank you.