A creative break on the road to rebuilding young lives
Putting some fun into the lives of children and young people in Fife who have been affected by domestic abuse is the aim of a special summer group work programme.
This is the second year the scheme, organised by Fife Women’s Aid, has been held and it has been so successful it’s planned to continue the initiative.
Its aim is to give children and young people, who come from families that have experienced domestic abuse, a break away from the hard work of recovery by taking them on outings to various locations during the summer holidays.
While participating in the activities, supported by staff from Fife Women’s Aid, the children and young people collect an array of materials from nature, such as sticks, leaves and stones, and use them to create their own individual pieces of artwork which are then showcased in a special exhibition.
Keri Duffy, children and young person’s team leader at Fife Women’s Aid, said: “A few of us in the team came up with the original idea and we then trialled the summer scheme two years ago in west Fife. It was so successful we thought we could make it Fife wide. It was a success again this year and the kids really enjoyed it. We are hoping to do it again in future.
“The aim of the initiative is to build resilience, help the kids and offer them peer support. It’s about building their self confidence and self esteem and it also gives the mums some respite. We held three trips a week over the six week summer holidays – one in the west, one covering central and east Fife and a separate one for teenagers.”
She continued: “It’s great to get the kids out and some of them hadn’t been to the areas we went to. The places we visited included Ravenscraig, Fordell Firs, Devilla Forest, Lochore Meadows, Leven beach and afterwards the kids went back to an indoor venue to do their artwork.”
Keri said the finished pieces were all put together in an exhibition which was showcased in a private display at Fife Women’s Aid headquarters in Glenrothes with the families of those who had taken part invited to come along and view the artwork.
The summer group work programme was funded this year by the Youth and Philanthropy Initiative, an award-winning secondary school scheme that involves having young people working with local charities and getting involved in grant-making.
In the case of this particular initiative, two young girls from Madras College in St Andrews, Lena MacKay and Aimee Brown, competed against fellow pupils to win £3000 for their chosen charity. They opted to give the funding to Fife Women’s Aid and the organisation put the donation towards the summer group work programme. Staff felt it would be nice for young people to be funding projects for other young people.
Keri added: “We were amazed at how creative the children were – one of them produced artwork with bottle tops! It was great to see them using their imaginations and creating their paintings and drawings on their own.
“We would like to thank the CYP support workers for all their hard work during the summer holidays as well as Robertson Fine Art in Glenrothes which mounted some of the pictures for the children.”
One local woman, whose children took part in this year’s art exhibition, was delighted to see their work. She also described the support she has received as ‘invaluable’.
She said: “What the children have done in this exhibition has been amazing. It is nice to see their work and it gives them something to look forward to during the summer.
“It took me two-and-a-half years to phone Fife Women’s Aid. I spoke to a few people who said I should and it’s the best thing I ever did. I’m in a good place now and I can’t thank Fife Women’s Aid enough.
“Just having someone to talk to makes such a difference. When I first went into refuge they brought me carrier bags of food to get me through the first few days. I know that if I am needing anything I just need to pick up the phone. Whether it is practical support or just help to get me back on track, it is invaluable. I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for Fife Women’s Aid.” Anyone who is needing help should contact Fife Women’s Aid on Freephone 0808 802 5555.
Working with youngsters
Fife Women’s Aid Children and Young People’s Service supports children from birth to 18 years in refuge, on a follow-on basis (when they move into their own accommodation after refuge) and on an outreach basis, often supporting children and young people who are still living in abusive situations. The organisation offers children a package of support. This includes talking to them: about how they are feeling, about domestic abuse and about safety, so they know how to protect themselves. Staff also discuss healthy/unhealthy relationships with youngsters and offer advocacy support to children, so their voices are heard during meetings and hearings.