'11 years ago today I said goodbye to B, my child’s father, and I unexpectedly, suddenly became both Mummy and Daddy to J.
J was just 13 months old then, and that meant that those early days were cruel and surreal; J was babbling and would point at people who resembled Daddy questioning ‘Dadda?’, there would be a knock at the front door and J would point ‘Dadda home!’.
As J grew older, he’d come home from school telling me how another teacher had physically grimaced when he'd said, so matter of factly as children do, ’my Daddy is dead’. I have always instilled frank and honest conversation between J and I; we do use the word ‘dead’ not the confusing ’gone away’. We sit. We talk. We listen. We love.
J is now 12 and understands that B died of an AIDS related infection. J is also now aware that I am living with HIV. J has age appropriate knowledge, and an awareness of HIV and sexual health in general far surpassing many adults I meet in the training and workshops I deliver!
About four years ago, hearing J explain, yet again, that people ‘don’t know what to say, that’s normal Mummy’ sparked something in me. Knowing that that reaction just wasn’t good enough, nor acceptable and that the adults involved in, and working within J’s life, those who encountered J, should be able to have conversations, not avoid conversations and at the minimum be able to confidently signpost to support; do anything but never ignore them or make that person feel that they can’t talk openly about what is in fact their day to day life. 1 in 20 children in the UK have experienced the death of a parent.
I knew I had to do something.
These interactions J encountered spurred me on to found Think2Speak. To create a hub of support, training and advice to help people who work with young people tackle those conversations that many grown ups would rather avoid, to help young people be able to talk about what’s bothering them, whatever that may be, and to help people have a space where they can talk about their family, their network and their experiences.
What J and I do both believe, and is the founding principal of Think2Speak - is that talking about ‘these things’ whatever 'these things' may be - NEVER makes it worse! Grown ups can learn so much from the child like qualities of 'chatter', of simply having a conversation, losing the motive that often drives adult conversation, never assuming to know what's bothering a young person..
Think2Speak has enabled so many conversations. I am so proud of each of the schools that have embraced our proactive, preventative approach to wellbeing by becoming Think2Speak Members, safe in the knowledge that our counselling and therapy services are there for them when needed.
I burst with pride that in our first twelve months the team and I have:
- Worked with over 2000 young people
- Trained over 400 teachers, staff and carers/parents
- Delivered over 350 counselling sessions
- Helped people talk about grief, domestic abuse, HIV, puberty, PSHE, emotional wellbeing, mental health, sexual health, self harm, depression, anxiety, stress, change and loss and the list goes on.
As both Mummy and Daddy to J, I am so proud that Think2Speak is able to support other young, people just like J, and families just like ours, and not just within schools.
With your help, we can help so many many more! Please consider using the button below to make a donation and help us support even more young people who need someone to talk to!
'You're a star' BK 7th June 1972 - 29th March 2006