Julia Acott talks about her work in East London as the Helpline and Online Manager of www.careconfidential.com – a service for people facing unplanned pregnancy or having post-abortion difficulties
“Ca, ca, can I stay with you?” stammered the confused seven-year-old lad early one cold October morning six years back, trembling with his mum as he stood on our doorstep. He was wearing just a nappy and pyjama top.
His mum was in the middle of a breakdown and they had walked two miles to our house, wearing virtually nothing, with nobody stopping them. He did stay. In fact, he never left, and we’re happy, along with his mum, that he is adopted into our family and free to see her as she lives near by.
We all go out for meals together, as well as meet her in church. This is clearly the best option for our son, and by God’s grace his birth mum is now able to say “You’re lucky, you’ve got two mums!”
This is one of thousands of valuable experiences that God has given me, since beginning our pregnancy crisis centre Alternatives, in East London, in 1994. I remember another evening telling my 20-year-old daughter: “Look at the work I brought home tonight – she’s asleep in our bedroom”.
We were looking after a 10-month-old baby girl, having been with her mother earlier in the day as she gave birth to twins. She didn’t have anyone else to look after the little girl, and rather than have her go into care with strangers, we had built a relationship with her in the weeks leading up to the birth of the twins.
I began Alternatives out of a growing concern for the huge number of abortions which take place, and having been so blessed with my own children within a happy marriage. Listening one day to the story of a woman’s own abortion experience, she said that she had no alternative at the time. This energised me to start Alternatives in Newham, where currently one in three pregnancies end in abortion.
I feel very strongly “there but for the grace of God go I” and it is God’s wonderful grace, truth and compassion which motivates and strengthens me day by day.
We are one of 160 centres within the network of www.careconfidential.com, which offers a free helpline on 0800 028 2228 and an award-winning website service, enabling any woman in the UK to find support if facing difficulties with unplanned pregnancy or post-abortion stress.
Each day brings new challenges, from supporting someone following adoption, to arranging furniture removals for a young mum with triplets, from sharing the pain of someone working through Careconfidential’s post-abortion support programme The Journey, to sitting with another who is agonizing over a positive pregnancy test result.
There have been some tense moments, such as needing a police escort to help in removing a young parent to safety, and another time I literally stood between a young man and woman as he crashed her belongings out onto the street.
We aim to provide whatever support is needed. We currently have a pregnant woman living with us, while other young mums and their children are living with one of our trustees, as we try to help them in their difficulties. These particular mums are not always eligible for financial assistance.
We discovered we had several young mums who have no parents or family to support them, so we brought them together as a group which provides much more than just friendship and support. We wanted to empower them to turn their life situations around, and equip them with life skills for handling conflict and anger, and manage their difficult relationships. We also teach parenting skills, as many had no role model for themselves. The mums themselves named the group We are Family.
One mum recently said about the group: “I have been coming here for two years. I was one of the first ones here. It is really really nice. I had been to lots of groups but this one is better. It is like coming to my family. I find friendship. Any problems I have with my children, I ask them. I have had lots of problems in the last months, and they have been there for me, they have helped me. My English has improved as well.”
We plan to be here for those who most need help and support following a crisis pregnancy or after an abortion, and to offer help through the toughest times, so people are empowered to make the right choices and have hope and a future in their lives.
See www.careconfidential.com for more information
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