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Testimonies from PACT's Writing Group

Testimonies from PACT's Writing Group

Posted by Wilhelmina Perry

PACT’s writing group share their experiences of coming to PACT and the community they have found in Southwark.

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Carina’s Story

My name is Carina and I am a mum of 3 I grew up in the Peckham area so there was always a mix of people and religions and I was very fortunate to have friends from a variety of cultural backgrounds. However, due to bad experiences earlier in life, I became very closed off from friends and family which made meeting and making new friendships extremely hard. I had become very shut off from the world. Things worsened after having my oldest child when I had no support and was in an abusive relationship.

I had a fear of rejection, felt completely on my own but also felt judged as a young mum. Hearing about MumSpace and being part of PACT was a life-line for me. I am very thankful for the people that run MumSpace because they have brought me back to life. Meeting Imogen and then Kate a fellow mum from my daughter’s school has shown me that I was more than what I gave myself credit for, that it was ok to not be a perfect mum. This helped me to relax a bit and start feeling like I was part of something.

I went from needing to leave the house as watching the walls was driving me crazy, to wanting to meet new people which I hadn’t done in years. Slowly I began to trust the volunteers, I started participating in activities, even singing along to the songs. I became more interested in what was going around me. Through MumSpace and being part of PACT, I got to attend the Parent University course and more recently another course called ‘Baby and Us’. Earlier this year, I attended and completed the Community Organising and Leadership training, I have been to Accountability Assemblies which helped build my confidence so much that I got involved in something I was so passionate about, HOUSING! Since getting involved in the housing campaign, I have been to a meeting with Peter John, Leader of Southwark Council and chaired a meeting with Keiron Williams Cabinet Member for Housing Management and Modernisation.

The thing I love about PACT is when I was in a really bad place and not attending MumSpace often, Kate would pull me up on it, support and encourage me to keep going. When I was struggling, the encouragement I received from other mums and the workshops we have was so helpful. It would not have been possible without PACT. I have made true friendships being part of PACT, I know if I am not doing well or need a bit of help the friends I’ve made will not judge and will be there. Being part of PACT has brought me a new family and a sense of belonging in my community which I wouldn’t otherwise have felt. It has also shown me what I really want to do with my life and created a new passion in me for wanting to help people.

This has led me to do a Level 3 in Counselling course and wanting to go back to university to do a BSc (Hons) Counselling to start next year. This wouldn’t have been possible without my good friend Minnie. When I first brought it up, I even asked her to talk me out of it but instead, she encouraged me and helped me believe in myself. I feel so alive thanks to the people I have met at PACT encouraging me to follow this dream and offering me opportunities to volunteer. I look forward to the future now but most importantly I am living in the present. The mums and volunteers I have met have pushed me to be a better mum, a better me. I know I can count on them just like they know they can count on me.

Helen’s Story

I am a mother of four boys. Since I have had my first child 10 years ago that has become my identity and who I have come to be known. Although motherhood is universal, my experience as a mother is very different from what I had watched growing up. In my country Ethiopia, the upbringing of a child is not just left to the parent solely but to the community as a whole. After years of feeling isolated, I have found MumSpace run by PACT to be the place where both myself and my kids feel the sense of belonging.

Over a year ago a friend of mine invited me to attend one of the groups (MumSpace ) run by PACT. I was at first very skeptical, due to the fact the many of the baby and toddler groups I have attended in the past have been not so warm and inclusive.   As a mum you feel obliged to take your kids to these groups, my kids enjoyed these sessions but to me it became daunting and the interaction felt forced. I felt Judged even before people make the effort to get to know me. While I see other mums establishing friendships and arranging play dates, I had been made to feel isolated.  Regardless of my past experience, I am glad I made my way to MumSpace, from the moment I had stepped in the building it has been filled with nothing but warmth and support. It has been a place where your colours or your social status does not matter when something as powerful as motherhood connects us all.

Since attending PACT, it has opened lots of opportunity for me. Although I have BSc in Social science and have specialised in developmental studies, the short courses I have been taking such as the Triple P course which focuses on parenting children between the age of 2-4 and being involved in the Family Food Club has been more rewarding, satisfying and have found it to be very practical. PACT has also created the opportunity for me to give back to the community, which I did by taking part in organising the Annual Summer BBQ, being involved in the Family Food Club and I am currently helping with organising the Annual PACT Assembly.

It has only been a few months since I started attending to the groups run by PACT, those few months have been nothing but positive for me and my family. The feelings of isolation I felt a few months ago had been replaced by a sense of belonging.  I have met so many lovely ladies who are on the same journey as me and whom I can open up to. PACT has created an environment where I can balance motherhood and self-growth and I am grateful for that.

Elsie's Story

My name is Elsie. I am a mum to a beautiful princess called Felicia. I love reading, writing, politics, dancing, watching movies and the news. I have a BSc in Accountancy, MSc in Strategic Management and Leadership, Prince 2 Foundation in Project Management and I hope to go for my Doctorate Program soon.

I first came to PACT (Parents and Communities Together) because I was feeling lonely, depressed and suicidal. So, my community support worker Lorraine Campbell suggested PACT will be a good place for me to socialise and I decided to give it a go. I was six, almost seven months pregnant.

When I first arrived at PACT, my first impression was I felt welcome. The volunteers who welcomed me were very nice, but I didn't want to socialise. I went straight to the back seat where no one will see nor talk to me. I was very reserved and always declined the offer to socialise by a volunteer.

Coming to PACT has helped me socialise, I am no longer hiding at one corner and I have become friends with some lovely mums. I have attended the Parent University, MumSpace, Babies @ MumSpace, Summer BBQ, International Women's Day, Leadership Training, Core Team activities, Volunteering, Welcoming and Parent champions training.

I have also volunteered at PACT as a welcoming mum at MumSpace and assisted with welcoming parents and making them feel at home at the Parent University. I volunteered because I wanted to gain experience, help other mums and to give back to the community.

PACT has helped me meet people I wouldn't have normally met through talking. As a model of early intervention for PACT, I have attended meetings at City Hall with the head of the Violence Reduction Unit. I have been involved in campaigns such as NHS Fees, Youth Safety and Mental Health. I was also able to meet and have a little talk with Harriett Harman who is the longest woman serving MP in the House of Commons and the Labour MP for Camberwell and Peckham. These campaigns have made me meet lovely people with whom we sit and exchange ideas and experiences.

If I were to describe PACT to someone who has not been I would say that PACT is a project of Citizens UK and runs different weekly workshops for mums, dads, and children creating friendship and a strong support system. PACT is culturally diverse and there is respect for each other. Its workshops are very interesting and educative.

Munira’s Story

Hello everyone, my name is Munira. I am a mum of three children; a girl and two boys. We moved to Southwark a year ago. I was so isolated and felt insecure. I worried whether my kids would cope with moving to a new area and new schools. The first person who welcomed me in my building was a lovely neighbour. I was lucky as she invited me to the MumSpace group at PACT. Abi is a Parent Champion and Welcomer at PACT. I cannot express how this changed my life and that of my kids. I met lovely mums from different backgrounds and cultures and we now call each other sisters! I look forward to seeing them every Friday.

Since I joined PACT, I have attended two training courses. One in community organising and leadership and also a Parenting course for 2 - 4 years old. I am now representing parents on the PACT Steering Group. On the Steering group, I have met community leaders and professionals whom I would not meet every day. I also went to the Citizens UK accountability assembly where I met lots of amazing people from other institutions as well as MPs. Recently, I was invited by our Project Manager to a Women Interfaith Network Lunch where again I met other people from around London and elsewhere. I even took a picture with the Guest Speaker our ex-prime minister Tony Blair!

I am volunteering in our piggy bank every first Friday of the month. We receive donations and sell them at very cheap prices to families in our community as a way of fundraising. I have been involved in organising the PACT assembly on the 29th of October 2019. What a busy life! What a great year! I am looking forward to more amazing opportunities and taking part in events in our community, building new relationships, empowering others and making change for a better life.

Posted by Ana Ramirez Mourraille on 1 Apr, 2021