Make Her Mother's Day 31st March

Mother's Day, a day to celebrate that special maternal relationship. A day of flowers, chocolates, gifts and maybe a little bit of time to rest. And yet, for many it is a day that brings a heaviness and grief unlike any other. A grieving for the relationship that once was but is no longer, the relationship that isn't as it could be, is yet to be, or indeed never will be. It can be especially painful for the women we care for at Azalea, some of whom have suffered abuse at the hands of their own mother's, and many who are enduring the ongoing separation from their own children. 

 

Our hope is that in the midst of this difficult day, we will be able to give these women a gift that might help to ease their pain a little, one which helps them to know that they are loved and thought about, and that their value and purpose is undeniable. With a significant number of our women being homeless, the gift of a pot plant, or even a bunch of flowers isn't quite right, and so we are planning of giving each one a handstitched fabric Azalea flower, along with a small gift card. Would you be willing to sponsor a flower for one of our women? To do so, click on the link to Sponsor a Flower for Mother's Day, leave a message so that we know what your donation is for, and know that you have made a difficult day pass a little easier for one of our women. Thankyou. 

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"I didn't realise I was being sexually exploited"

'Rilinda' tells her story and explains how she ended up living with older people and got drawn into prostitution through exploitation and drugs.

Her experience is typical of many women coming to Azalea, who were victims of child sexual exploitation - where children and teenagers are maniuplated or coerced into exchanging sex for gifts, money or drugs.

What is your background? 

Both my parents were alcoholics and I grew up with a lot of domestic violence. I was sexually abused around the age of 7 or 8. Mum left and I started taking drugs aged 12 and dealing drugs a few years later. Drinking and doing drugs allowed me to be “normal”. Then my dad kicked me out and I was arrested a lot from then on.

I ended up living with a lot of older people. I didn't realise that I was being sexually exploited, but I was giving sex to dealers in return for drugs. I suffered a lot of abuse, gang-rape, that kind of thing. 

How did you end up at Azalea?  

I was sent to Luton for drug rehab, and later had a child. That got me back on track but subsequently I fell back into old habits. When I asked for help, social services put a care order on my child and then I really lost my way. 

How has Azalea helped you? 

Azalea gave me love and made me feel safe. I always feel welcome and listened to, and the Azalea team don't give up on you. They keep in contact. They restored my faith in humanity, that there are good people in the world who don’t want something from you, like most people do. If I was ever in trouble I could come down here and tell the team – Azalea's like my family. You've also restored my faith in God, helping me to see God working through people. 

What about now? 

The support has grown with the Recovery side. Before Azalea was only in the evenings but now there are daytime sessions that help fill up my day. Recovery is teaching me life skills, relaxation techniques. It's such a positive place to come – I always feel better being here. 

 

“I’d never seen an organisation like Azalea before” - Life as an Azalea Intern

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Faith Merriweather is Azalea’s second intern, and she’s great! Interns commit to two years at Azalea, giving 15+ hours a week. They have to complete Azalea's frontline team training but also have the opportunity to learn many office, admin and creative skills as well. If you are interested in finding out becoming an Intern, please contact us on info@azalea.org.uk

Faith, what were you doing before you joined Azalea?

I’d spent four years doing a BSc in psychology at Glasgow University. I also volunteered at Azalea for 3 weeks during a summer break from my degree course.

Why did you want to become an intern?

When I volunteered that summer, I really loved Azalea, and had never seen anything else like it. It really is unique. The whole organisation lives out their values - such as unconditional love – so totally. I wanted to be part of that.

What does your role involve?

It’s very varied, which is exciting. I do lots of practical tasks such as stocking up the Drop-in and sorting food and clothing donations. I work frontline with the women on the Recovery programme, which meant I did the Azalea training course - I've also been on the Drop-in team previously. I work in the office and write the weekly Prayer net newsletter. I’m also on the communications team, doing some design and publicity work, and I’ve helped to manage events such as 24-7 prayer week and fundraising events.

What are you learning?

I feel like I’m a completely different person! I’ve learned office and administration skills, about planning events and good communication. Working with the women has taught me so much: humility, perseverance, coping with challenging behaviour, and how to see myself. I really recommend becoming an intern here – everyone should do it!