Hello there! My name is Lauren Taylor and I work for Safer Places as a Senior Family Domestic Abuse Practitioner (I know, what a mouthful right?).

Thankfully when it comes to working with the amazing kids within the refuges I just introduce myself as someone wanting to make them feel as safe and happy as possible, that usually goes down a little better!

I want to quickly mention that I was involved in a video for Safer Places regarding an appeal for support for our children and families and WOWZA!!! What a response we got!! Everyone at Safer Places is so grateful and touched by the amount of support we received I wanted to take this opportunity as a great big massive THANK YOU on behalf of all of us J

So I was asked by one of my lovely colleagues to write a blog……and after several days of researching what a blog actually is, here I am “winging it”. Classic.

I should probably start where attention is most centred at the moment and that is COVID-19.

Like everywhere, the children and families in refuge have faced so many challenges relating to this and will most likely continue to face these and other challenges, but as always, I am in awe and amazed by their strength and commitment to just getting on with what they can.

Like so many of us, the children and families in refuge are so grateful and overwhelmed by the kindness of others as we have had so many people reach out to us in this time of need and offer donations of pretty much everything! Whether it be cleaning products, toiletries, nappies, books, toys, education resources (you name it – we got it donated) it has just been mind-blowing how generous people are.

And it really makes a difference you know, seeing the look of a child’s face when they get given a brand new toy to keep them busy, or the look on a teenagers face when they get new educational books to help with their continued school work, even giving that new family into refuge a nice lovely box of basic toiletries because in the panic and hysteria of fleeing they’ve forgotten their deodorant, it really is something. I’m honoured to be a part of it to be honest.

Something new and exciting for us that started in lockdown is our Word of the Week! Each Monday we put together a little pack centred on that week’s chosen word of the week. For instance, so far we’ve had words such as Unity, Courage, Empowerment, Self-Care and many more. The pack is then tailored around that chosen word, so example within the Self-Care pack we included some of our top 10 quotes (love a quote I do) around self-priority and learning to love oneself, some interactive games for both mother and child/children to complete, some child friendly tools and activities around self-esteem, some diary and journal bits and bobs and my personal favourite touch – a face mask.

I personally love giving the packs out each week and the feedback has been great! We obviously are, and have been, keeping to social distancing and a lot of our support has been by phone so this little added extract just seems to help bridge that gap of distance you know? Maybe next week’s word can be “Rambling” as seen in this blog.

Anyways, other changes include my one to one work being completed within a safe 2 metre distancing space or online. As you can imagine a lot of children’s fears and anxieties are centred on this virus, what it means for them, what it means for their family, grandparents, school etc. I’ve found that the introduction of Children’s House Meetings help ease some of those feelings.

The meetings are no adults allowed (apart from me, although “adult” is often questioned). They are free and open for discussion and it is described as a safe environment for the children to speak freely. We discuss any refuge rules that may need bringing up, boundaries, if the group is right and with the mother’s consent we can also discuss more intense topics such as appropriate and inappropriate relationships. I personally always cannot wait for a Children’s House Meeting as they always end up being heaps of fun and sweets and treats and often passed around.

With regards to our group activities these have definitely taken a little bit of a hit!

We had to put our group work on hold for some time for safety reasons but as lock down started to ease and with the weather being so lovely we decided to do some fun group work outside including tidying up the garden space and planting some bits. We were also donated some amazing sports equipment and we even tried to create our own sports day! I did not win.

I know there is so much more to write and if I am permitted to write another one of these maybe I will come better prepared with a list of exciting bits to write about but for now I think that’s me signing off! Is that even what you say in a blog? No idea. Anyway stay safe, take care, be kind and support each other J

Lauren x