With the first phase of Pause Bristol reaching a close, the women were here to celebrate all they’d achieved. And what better place than City Hall to showcase their hard work, to show how important each of them is. They took their seats in the warm, oak-panelled room alongside service professionals and Pause staff past and present.
Pause Bristol has worked with a group of 23 women who’ve had two or more children removed, helping them take a break to deal with their grief and to focus on new goals. One of the women helped produce a film about her experience of child care proceedings, about her sense of bewilderment and loss. As it screened, there wasn’t a dry eye in the room…
But the day was to celebrate how far women had come. Practitioner Charlie said:
“Over the months we’ve worked together I’ve watched you step out of your comfort zones, make brave decisions, meet new people, attend new courses, get jobs, be reunited with friends and families, comfort one another, work to express your feelings, work alongside professionals… and you’ve comforted one another. Now as you go on in your journeys you should know this: everyone in this room is rooting for you.”
Local poet Pat Simmons read her piece ‘Courage’, written specially for the occasion. Reflecting on the grief and trauma of having children removed she asked ‘If we’ve lost what we’ve loved, what’s left of us?’ Her poem’s conclusion was about moving on from grief with a fuller heart, “too full of love to give in to despair.”
Not easy to hold ourselves together
when life seems determined to tear us apart.
A triumph to wake up each morning and be
who we are, however sick at heart.
If we’ve lost what we love what’s left of us?
Only the will to get up each day,
keep on going step after step,
trusting in love to find a fresh way,
Trusting the strength we can’t always feel,
taking control, daring to care,
simply refusing to abandon our fight,
too full of love to give in to despair.
Pat Simmons, February 2019
Reflecting on the last 18 months, practice lead Caz Buckeridge said: “We need to hear these voices. As a team, we’ve had our own assumptions challenged and our eyes opened to some of the specific difficulties these women face. But we’re constantly struck by their courage and determination.”
Before the presentation of ‘graduation gifts’ to each woman, Ann James – the Council’s Director for Children and Families – testified to the bravery of the Pause women:
“For me, chairing the Pause strategic board is a humbling and inspiring opportunity. But today is about what champions you are. You are amazing women and this is a gift to mark your achievements.”
The fantastic Caribbean women’s choir Tan Teddy sang out the ceremony with the playful ballad of a girl who knows her own mind. And they moved straight into the singalong chorus ‘I’m Every Woman’. There was a deep sense of joy and love in the room, for and from women who had had experienced their lives turned upside down. As the occasion closed, everyone was singing together, whoever they were, ready to go back out into Bristol stronger and more inspired than when they’d arrived.
One Pause woman said:
“I had the best time – it was awesome.”
“I’ll remember this day for the rest of my life.”