Our members have been involved in more than just fundraising for Light Sheffield, our charity of the year. Emma Clarke has volunteered to be a trustee for the charity and has written the following post to introduce what she has been doing so far and why the charity is so important.
It was her smile upon leaving the room at the end of the session that stuck with me. Its softness, that it reached her eyes.
As I drove home I thought of the labels which had been attached to this young woman over the previous six months. Teen mum. Mental health service-user. Perinatal mental health patient. Post-natally depressed. I wondered at what point she lost her identity and I tried to imagine just how alone she must feel.
It was Sarah’s* first visit to Light Sheffield’s weekly group. She came with her mum and her beautiful six-month old daughter. She’d travelled across the city and was too nervous to join in at first, so Jess, project manager, and Amy*, a volunteer, welcomed her in a separate room, telling her about Light, offering compassion and tea, letting her know she’d found a safe space, that she was amongst people who understood. She had found her tribe.
As the three generations of this family – grandma, mum and baby girl – sat on the floor with other mums, surrounded by toys, with a jungle gym providing helpful distraction to an inquisitive little one, I witnessed the power of fellowship. A group of mums who, through conversation, laughter, the swapping of tips and the provision of a listening ear, generated Light and shared it with one another. In professionalised terms this is called peer support, in the real world it’s called friendship.
As Sarah headed out of the door at the end of the session – showing that soft smile – she took with her information on sling types, an alternative to Bonjela which came with high praise, the phone number of another mum whose own daughter was only a few weeks older and had joined a WhatsApp group to use in those lonely moments in the middle of the night or to share the good ones. But the most precious thing she took with her was the knowledge that she is doing just fine and there is Light ahead.
The two hours I spent getting to know some of the mums who use Light Sheffield confirmed in my mind becoming a Trustee was the right thing to do. And I hope this small insight in to the work of the charity shows the difference your cake-baking, beer brewing and general drum-banging makes for women in Sheffield.
Visit Light Sheffield’s website for more information on their work and support