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“Don’t let your past define your present”: Talking relationships with specialist Laura Brett

This week I had the chance to speak to the lovely Laura, whose been doing all sorts of things in Harrogate over the years. She’s had experience of working with people through various relationship, emotional, and mental health challenges.

I thought I’d glean some of her wisdom, and share it here on the Hub blog as part of our month raising awareness of relationship issues.

So Laura, tell us a bit about your background…

I trained as a midwife in 2013 and I’ve worked in all disciplines – antenatal, delivery suite, postnatal, and I’ve specialised in perinatal* mental health. After training as a midwife, I volunteered for Mercy UK for about 18 months, helping two pregnant women, who were struggling with mental health problems and low self-esteem.

* if like me, you know nothing about midwifery vocab, ‘perinatal’ means ‘relating to the weeks before or after birth’. New word for the day! 

And what have been you up to more recently?

I’ve been doing mental health coaching in schools, teaching young people about emotional wellbeing and how to have good relationships. As a midwife, I’ve seen the effects that negative sexual experiences can have upon people. I encourage young people to think about their choices. Every choice we make has a consequence, and good choices can lead to good consequences. As a midwife, I saw women suffering from all sorts of negative experiences, but sometimes it felt like I was just sticking on plasters. Now that I’m coaching it’s about doing preventative work.

However, throughout all my work, both as a midwife and a coach, I’ve encouraged people that it’s never too late to change how we choose to live our lives. Don’t let your past define your present, because then it will have an impact on your future.

Why do you do the work you do?

I’ve definitely been going on a journey. Sometimes you don’t always know why you’re doing what you’re doing, but then you look back in retrospect and you can see why God has given you the experiences you’ve had. My past experiences with midwifery have helped me with what I’m doing now.

My work has been about loving people, and I’ve always had a heart for women. I set up ‘Sanctuary’, a women’s outreach ministry at my church, St Mark’s, and also ‘Ready Steady Mums’, a postnatal walking group, where mums (and dads) take a walk round the Stray and then head to St Marks for teas and coffees afterwards.

As a midwife, I’ve worked with social services to help women in abusive relationships and helped dysfunctional families build relationships through family group conferences. I want to speak for truth and justice, helping people to get rid of the lies that have been spoken over them, and speaking up for people who can’t speak up for themselves, whether that’s women who have been trafficked, suffered domestic abuse or experienced other trauma. There are some verses in the Bible (Isaiah 61) that are about binding up the broken-hearted and setting the captives free. That’s become a real mantra for me. I want to help people live out their full potential.

What kinds of advice do you give to people about relationships?

Recently, I’ve particularly been giving advice to parents. I’ve got involved with a new project, myLifePool Harrogate. We support the well-being of mothers and fathers through the journey of parenting. Postnatal and prenatal depression is a common issue that affects relationships, and it’s not just mothers who struggle with this.

About 1 in 10 men suffer from postnatal depression, but usually it’s hidden. It’s often the case that the father will suddenly have a meltdown about 3 months after the child’s birth. We want to support parents through struggles like this so that they don’t feel lonely or excluded.

We spend 25% of the time talking about the relationships between the parents. It’s not ‘fluffy’ stuff like some people might think, it’s really important. If the parents’ relationship is good and healthy, everything else falls into place – otherwise it can all come tumbling down. We talk quite a lot about love languages, which is all about how we connect with each other and how we express the value we see in the other person.

With all relationships, I would say that communication is really important, and also finding help and support. And that’s where places like the Harrogate Hub come in. It’s so important to find support when you’re facing challenges in your relationships.


If you’re struggling in any of your relationships at the moment and need someone to talk to, please call in to the Hub.

We’re here to listen and offer non-judgemental support. You will receive kindness and love. We will walk alongside you through your challenges and make sure that you get the support you need.

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Domestic and Sexual Abuse happens in Harrogate – join in the conversation

This month, we’re starting a conversation about domestic abuse and relationship issues. February marks Sexual Abuse and Sexual Violence Awareness week, beginning today and ending on the 11th February.

Domestic abuse and sexual abuse happens to people you may know or walk past everyday. It happens in Harrogate. It may have happened to you. It’s time to start talking about what is acceptable when it comes to relationships and sexual violence and how the Harrogate Hub can help.

Domestic violence is a type of abuse that can be physical, emotional, mental as well as sexual. Whilst many of us may be celebrating Valentine’s Day with our loved ones this month, there are others in our town whose relationships aren’t all what they seem to be on the outside.

In fact, it is estimated that 150-200 people per month seek support for domestic abuse in Harrogate.

This is where the awareness week comes in.

Single, or in a relationship; or like me, in a happy, loving and respectful relationship, it can be hard to believe that anyone could ever be abusive in a partnership.

Sometimes people might not know it themselves.

As I was scrolling through twitter last week, I saw these tweets from West Yorkshire police, which really got me thinking:

Domestic abuse isn’t always obvious.

It can often start with subtle actions from a partner like text messages or controlling behaviour.  Often those abused don’t notice the signs at first.

These subtle actions can escalate. In some cases, they can escalate so much that for some women there is no escape; 2 women in England and Wales die because of domestic abuse on average each week, according to Homicide Statistics.

It’s not just women who suffer but as seen in the tweet above, 1 in 6 men experience some form of abuse within a relationship.

It’s important to notice the signs. You may feel afraid of your partner or feel like they’re always criticising you. Perhaps you’re too embarrassed to mention these feelings to friends or family.

At the Hub we are here to help those who feel they’ve got nowhere to turn.

We help by listening and offering support, and we can signpost to IDAS, the Independent Domestic Abuse Services.

We can help you through the process of getting in touch with IDAS or other specialist services, and we will continue to offer our support – we won’t withdraw our help once we’ve signposted you. We’ll continue to walk alongside you on your journey for as long as you want.

Speaking about the new Domestic Abuse Awareness Campaign on North Yorkshire Police’s website, Sarah Hill, Director at IDAS said:

“IDAS are delighted to be able to launch a new awareness campaign with the support of the OPCC and NYP.  Over the next 6 months, the campaign will provide a range of information about domestic abuse and about the services available for victims of abuse.

For every person who reports or seeks help because of abuse, four more people do not report or access any support or help at all.  

This campaign will reach out to those people and help them access services and support when they need it.  This will increase reporting, reduce risk and help more people live a life that is free from harm and violence.”

If you or anyone you know in Harrogate show any signs of being a victim of domestic abuse, please get in touch with the Harrogate Hub or IDAS. Or if you are experiencing or have experienced sexual abuse, please don’t stay silent. You can call us during our open hours on 01423 369393  or drop in to our welcome centre on 39 Oxford Street, Mondays-Fridays, 10-12 noon, and Mondays-Thursdays, 2-4pm.

Abusive behaviour is not ok, but it’s definitely ok to talk about it.

Follow the hashtag #itsnotok to read other people’s stories.

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Check out this site for more helpful guidance:

https://www.helpguide.org/articles/abuse/domestic-violence-and-abuse.htm

 

 

Written by Rachel Williams

Edited by Ella Green

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