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February – March 2024 : The little things READ ONLINE

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Take a moment

February 01 2024
© Greta Gillett © Greta Gillett

How a stranger’s kindness had our writer reflecting on moments in the past and looking forward to moments in the future. By Greta Gillett.


This article discusses sensitive subjects and includes themes and references that may upset or distress readers.

I read a post on an online community noticeboard offering a Christmas meal for two for those separated from family. I sent a message to the poster: a Jamaican lady wanting to “give back” and apologising the food would have spice. I said that’s perfect and my husband is Jamaican as well, we love spice. My husband arranged to walk over on Christmas day (a 20-minute walk) as there were no buses and we don’t have a car.

The lady learnt I am disabled and that my husband is also my carer. This angel, who was already stepping up, then connected with another angel and they both split the cost of a taxi so that nobody needed to walk in the cold.

When I was told, I felt tears in the corners of my eyes. I thought about the holiday seasons I have spent in hostels, the Christmases I had taken a punch or two, the ones before my children were taken, when we would sit and play as a family. I remembered all those moments over the past year I spent fighting to get my daughter home from foster care.

I was allowed to see my daughter on 15 December (my monthly allowed visit) in a cold, dirty government building, and when I asked for a cup of tea for my daughter I was told it wasn’t allowed.

I recently learned I’ll be bringing my daughter home this year. It's been a 10-year fight and I’m only so close after much tragedy and a mother's worst nightmare, but I'm not hoping anymore – it's happening!

There have been moments life seemed to be in a cycle of cruelty and darkness. Moments when my sciatica caused by a beating while heavily pregnant caused such sharp, debilitating pain I felt hopeless.

And yet. Fast forward to Christmas and there is a total stranger offering me a home-cooked meal made with love and offering to deliver it so we didn't have to walk in the cold. I felt so loved, so cared for, so seen and heard.

For context, when I refer to this lady as an angel it is because she did not know me, she did not know I’ve been homeless, that I’ve been raped, that my four children were taken from me.

But she wanted to connect with her local community. From what I have seen and read, Jamaican people often have a deep understanding of the importance of not only good home-cooking, but the importance to share the food. We, not I.

The food arrived and for certain it was made with love and seasoned to perfection. We were given enough food to last a week – an important week, too. The week between Christmas and the new year is often when suicides peak in the UK. I am a suicide survivor and my own mental health is always delicate all through winter.

In that week I didn't have to cook or to shop, I simply had to defrost and reheat. Some days I invited neighbours and family over to share the food. The cycle of community continued.

With every bite, with every mouthful, we smiled, we savoured, we delighted in the kindness of an angel who made us feel loved.


Get Help

Although now looking forward and brimming with hope and confidence at the start of the new year, Greta has experienced many challenges. She writes about a few of these in this article, including surviving domestic abuse, rape and associated traumas.

If you need support, please find information on some helpful services below. If it is an emergency, please call 999.

Domestic abuse

  • In England, Refuge’s National Domestic Abuse Helpline for women and children can be contacted 24/7 for free on 0808 2000 247
  • In Scotland, the Domestic Abuse and Forced Marriage Helpline is available 24/7 on 0800 027 1234

Rape

  • Rape Crisis is a charity working in England and Wales to support survivors of rape. Call for free 24/7 on 0808 500 2222. Visit the website to find a Rape Crisis centre near you: rapecrisis.org.uk/find-a-centre
  • The Rape Crisis Scotland helpline, open every day from 5pm – 12am, can be reached on 08088 01 03 02. Find a local centre online here:
    www.rapecrisisscotland.org.uk/help-local-rcc
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