I was born to a home of 4 brothers and 2 sisters. As I grew up my childhood had a lot more downs than ups – I was sexually and physically abused and generally made to feel useless. My parents were quite traditional, my Mum was a devout Catholic and Dad was CofE. I was told that girls cooked, cleaned and looked after the house to help bring up the younger children and that I didn’t really need an education because girls got married, had children and looked after their husband. I tried very hard and when Mum went into hospital to have one of my brothers and sisters I rarely went to school; I had to look after my dad and siblings.

So, when I got to my teens I was determined to show them that I was just as good as them. I started work in a factory – in fact through the years I have had many different jobs, each one rising through the ranks to get as far as I could, even owning my own business at one time. But life still hadn’t been good in other ways; there had been some traumatic times in my life from abuse to dealing with cancer at the age of 35. I was divorced and trying to bring up my children on my own, working all the hours I could to give my children a good life.

After my cancer operation one of the nurses told me how near I’d come to dying; my son was the only one by my bedside holding my hand. When I did come round I felt like I’d been given a second chance – my children loved me unconditionally and I didn’t need anyone else. I carried on working all hours but things kept happening to bring me down. I kept getting up and tried to think that other people were going through worse things than me and so pushed all the hurt and abuse to the back of my mind.

When my children left home I was totally lost; I couldn’t handle being on my own. So I tried holidays but that’s not much fun on your own, going out but I felt too old for that, so I got a different job. This time there was always plenty of overtime and so I took all I could just so I wouldn’t be home for more than two days at a time; but after years of doing this I ended up with an injury that would eventually stop me from working. You can imagine not being able to work and being on my own drove me crazy and all my old insecurities came flooding back – no one wanted or needed me or loved me. I’d been looking all my life for someone to love me without there being something in it for them. I was getting depressed and didn’t want to leave the house. I was staying in bed, not getting dressed unless someone was coming. I always tried to be upbeat when the children came round and was good at putting up a front.

My Doctor at this time contacted Lancashire Wellbeing Service because of my depression. A lady came round to see me and was telling me about a community group called Adullam. She thought I might like it. I said It would be full of fuddy duddys, it won’t be for me and what could I offer I’m no good at anything. But she persuaded me to go with her. When I walked in I was pleasantly surprised – I was warmly greeted by Jill, the former Programme Manager, and other volunteers – the people there were lovely, no fuddy duddy’s at all! And I found that I really wasn’t useless either! I could help people learn how to sew and use a sewing machine – then how to follow a pattern. After the staff got to know me better, they asked if I would help out at one of the Adullam Coffee Mornings as they were short staffed – and I’m still there!

This has made me a stronger person and I now feel very loved and valued by the genuine people I have met through Adullam, church groups, Celebrate Recovery and Coffee morning.

I am more confident, relaxed, I know I have plenty of support and I’m able to give a little bit of support to people who are in the same position as I was, I go to events and enjoy trying to help I have made lots of new friends, my outlook on life has changed so much and for the better, I’m more positive and know someone is only a phone call away if I need help. I have also found great strength in having people I can share my struggles with, who have supported me and not judged me – and they are helping me leave the past behind and to start looking forward to what is a great life ahead.