For this month's Conversations with Josephine, we get to hear from Elsie (far right) about her journey with PACT and Community organising work.
Recently, PACT was invited to make a presentation about our work to the new Southwark Based Clinical Commissioning Board. As part of the presentation, I asked Elsie to share her testimony about the support she has received from PACT so far especially during the pandemic. Although Elsie was unable to speak to the meeting due to IT limitations, I wanted to share her contribution to highlight how important parent voices are to the work that we do at PACT.
Josephine: Hello Elsie, thank you so much for taking part in the presentation. Please tell us a bit about yourself and your family
Elsie: My name is Elsie. I am from Cameroon. I am a single mum and my daughter is called Felicia and she is 23 months old. I am under the NRPF.
Josephine: About how she came to PACT and how we helped, Elsie says:
Elsie: I came to PACT through my Family support worker at the Children Centre. I was pregnant and struggling with mental health. I was homeless and I was feeling suicidal and she referred me to Parent University.
The key things that helped me at PACT is the fact that I was able to socialise and stopped feeling isolated. I met amazing mums at PACT and we are still friends to this day. The suicidal thoughts I had before joining PACT are no more and I feel very much loved. PACT is my UK family.
PACT supported me in securing temporary accommodation which has helped me feel calmer. I am now able to look after my cute daughter without worrying about accommodation.
PACT also helped me to get involved in community organising. I now know many people within the community and we are working on issues affecting us together in order to achieve positive change.
Josephine: About how the lockdown impacted on her and Felicia Elsie said.
Elsie: I was really frustrated on what to do at home to entertain my daughter. I wished I had crayons, pencils and paper so my daughter and I could do some drawing and writing.
PACT supplied us with a craft pack which made it easy for my daughter and I to do some creative activities at home.
PACT also helped in providing us with internet access. I do not have enough money to pay for internet. Thanks to PACT, I am able to make WhatsApp calls, attend Mumspace on zoom and the Family Food Club. I was also able to check and keep in touch with other parents within the community.
Josephine: How do you think you have developed during this time?
Elsie: Since I joined PACT, I believe I have developed positively. I have completed Community organising and leadership training with Citizens UK. I am a Parent Champion and also a leader at PACT. I am involved in different local and national campaigns such as; The NHS fee campaign for migrant women, the Parent Commissioner at the GLA campaign, Youth Safety Campaign and the latest is the Settle Our Status campaign. I have also joined the Parent Council at Southwark to represent parent views and help the council to improve support to families.
Josephine: Elsie thank you so much for sharing your experience.
The presentation was well received and made such an impact that one attendee made a £500 donation to help us provide more craft packs to families! We are using this money to provide craft resources as part of the Christmas packages for PACT families!
A massive thanks to Elsie for sharing her story!
PACT Lead Southwark.