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In Love and Anger

Updated: May 10


“…the direct evidence for paradigm change, emanates almost entirely from the Own My Life Programme…” (In Love and Anger, p.119)

 

We are absolutely delighted about today’s publication of Tina’s Haven - A catalyst for emancipatory practice for birthmothers severed from their children by trauma-based addiction written by Dr Sue Robson, with commendations from Angela Frazer-Wicks MBE, Dr Caitlyn Placek, Cris McCurley, Carolyn Harris MP, Ranjana Bell MBE, Dr Rosie Lewis, and Vivienne Hayes MBE. 

 

Throughout 2023, we partnered with The Barn at Easington, East Durham Createsa (now named No More Nowt) and Addictions North East, in the Tina’s Haven project convened by Dr Sue Robson to offer meaningful and transformative support to women in addiction recovery, most of them birthmothers severed from their children by addiction.

 

The report provides robust evidence for Own My Life’s transformational impact. I initially developed Own My Life to be delivered in domestic abuse services, but the course’s strength of content and versatility has seen Own My Life increasingly used with women who are often most marginalised and, unjustly, least served by support services.  Dr Robson’s findings in the Tina’s Haven report provide strong evidence that Own My Life is an essential resource for all organisations wanting to make the biggest difference with women.

 

The Tina’s Haven report identified eleven theme among the attributable outcomes for Own My Life (p.59):

  1. Personal development outcomes.

  2. Improving relationships and development of connections between women.

  3. Positive experiences of female-only space.

  4. Women's self-empowerment.

  5. The emergence of critical consciousness.

  6. Paradigm changing (shifts in worldviews).

  7. Changes in values, beliefs, and attitudes.

  8. Changes in organisational practices.

  9. Changes in organisational culture.

  10. Changes in organisational strategy and policy.

  11. The potential of Own My Life to improve understanding of violence against women and girls (VAWG) in statutory systems.

 

You will have to Dr Robson’s full report HERE to fully understand all of these, but in advance of you doing that, we are keen to share with you three incredible Own My Life outcomes:

 

1. Women’s lives transformed!

 

We were blown away to learn that “all (n=7) of the women who completed the Own My Life course remained in recovery supported by the mixed-sex recovery organisation at the end of the project on 25.09.2022.” (p.58) To have this evidence that Own My Life, in partnership with specialist recovery services, has the potential to significantly improve women’s addiction recovery outcomes is incredibly important.  So too is Dr Robson’s acknowledgement that, “highly significant transformation is evidenced in women’s perceptions of being in control of their lives at the end of the [Own My Life] course” (p.61) and that “the progress in women’s perceptions of their ability to meet the needs of their children is remarkable.” (p.63)  Dr Robson reports that an outcome of the OML course being embedded in the mixed-sex recovery organisation, a children’s social care worker noted the woman’s personal development and that one of the participants believed "the Own My Life course was instrumental in regaining custody of her daughter when the odds were against her.” (p.74)

 

Dr Robson identifies Own My Life’s consciousness raising methodology, and explains that, “What emerges as critical in the women’s narratives is that breaking naïve consciousness is not just about self-development and empowerment; for those who have “normalised” even the severest of violence, it is potentially a question of life and death.” (p.66) 

 

We are delighted to see the political dimensions of Own My Life’s work recognised:

 

What is striking, is that from project participants realisations and understandings followed inner strength and tenacity, not just in relation to the abuse they were subjected to in the domestic sphere; but in their ongoing struggles against oppression and discrimination in the public sphere, including in relation to care proceedings in the family court. It is apparent from the women’s narratives that the learning from the Own My Life course will stay with them; providing personal and collective resources for them to survive the abuse they have been subjected to and to regain ownership of their lives.” (p.67)

 

2. Workers’ practice transformed!

 

The practitioners Dr Robson interviewed spoke powerfully about how our training, and their subsequent facilitation of the Own My Life course, had been transformative for their work, and therefore, for the women they work with.  This worker’s reflections of how her practice has changed are wonderful:

 

“I listen to the women more and tend to be more empathic. I’m spending more time with the women. It made me more determined to focus upon the women in recovery; to give them the space that they need and the training that they deserve. As a manager, I have been sat behind a desk, now I am getting to know the women more. I am getting to know them personally, rather than just “a client.” (p.71)


It was excellent to see the report acknowledge that Own My Life equips practitioners to create “‘forgiving spaces’ where women are not judged by professionals in the way to which they were accustomed.” (p.64)  Aligning with what many organisations tell us about Own My Life, Dr Robson found that “The women on the Own My Life course could see that the practitioners believed in them and did not see them as victims, but as warriors with dreams and goals” (p.65) and that “through the Own My Life course and other Tina’s Haven activities, safe female-only spaces were created by practitioners who firmly believed in the women, and this in turn meant that the women were able to practice being brave.”

 

Another practitioner reflects, “Staff who did the Own My Life course grew from it. It involved them having “light bulb moments”. One of the staff missed part of the course and joined late. They had thought that they knew a lot about domestic violence, but from the doing the course realised about the impact of it, and the impact upon their children.” (p.69)

 

3. Organisational culture transformed!

 

In joining the Tina’s Haven pilot, we were keen to learn how Own My Life works within a mixed-sex service, given that Own My Life has been designed for running in women-only provision.  It has been absolutely incredible to learn just how Own My Life has impacted the culture of the addiction service, with Own My Life trained workers courageously driving forward changes, “The OML course is proving to be transformational in an organisation that is traditionally male-led and was originally for men only. The men are not used to this, at first, I thought the men were being difficult deliberately, but then I realised it wasn’t. The women staff are starting to stand their ground more in the organisation.” (p.72)

 

Another female practitioner in the addiction service also shares, “Previously, the men did not take the women’s work seriously, the men are getting used to the women asserting their needs. It’s previously been men at the forefront and women in the background, this is the default position. Men in the organisation are realising the transformational nature of Own My Life. It’s uncomfortable for them, at first, but they will get over it!” (p.72)

 

We are overjoyed!

 

Dr Robson explains that “generally the impact of the OML programme have been deep and profound. As stated, the Own My Life steering group training, was shown to untangle the complexity of patriarchal theories so that deep understanding could be achieved that resulted in the development of interpersonal strategies to overcome male dominance.”  (p.92)

 

She also acknowledges, “It is evident that the mix of participants/ practitioners learning together on the OML course to help women who have been subjected to abuse to regain ownership of their lives, created optimum conditions for sharing the personal and subjective experiences of practitioners involved in the delivery of the course. As the narratives unfolded, it became apparent that the space created by the delivering the course in the mixed-sex recovery organisation was at once safe and forgiving.” (p.114)

 

…We are overjoyed that our work has been such a significant part of the Tina’s Haven pilot.

 

…We are overjoyed for all the women who participated, included (A) who told Dr Robson that “Doing the Own My Life course saved me when I was in a bad place…It was amazing, it honestly was.”

 

We are overjoyed for the collective of women that Tina’s Haven brought together and to see Dr Robson acknowledge how their comments on Own My Life “exemplify the bonds of love and peer support that were developing among project participants.” (p.64)

 

…And we are overjoyed that alongside Tina’s Haven, Own My Life offers a lasting and sustainable model for doing transformative work with women.



 

With huge thanks to our Development Lead, Jo Costello, who has been such an important part of the Tina's Haven pilot and led the Own My Life part of the work.


You can find out more about our work HERE.


If you are raring to get going with Own My Life for yourself and your organisation, you can find our next training dates HERE

 

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