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Centre reaches out to young mums

ALL IN IT TOGETHER: Rev Pam Ogilvie, centre, with some of the project’s volunteers

YOUNG MUMS who are often left traumatised after their babies are put up for adoption are finding practical help and kindness from a newly launched support group in Birmingham.

Based at the Holy Cross, a Church of England Church, the Magdala Project is giving scores of vulnerable women guidance to help them rebuild their own lives after their children are making new lives with adoptive parents.

The Holy Cross Centre within the church at Billesley Common is currently used as a contact centre where families meet up for visits at sessions supervised by social services.

The woman leading the Magdala project is the church’s vicar, Rev Pamela Ogilvie who sees it as a ‘social mandate’ that has the backing of the Parochial Church Council. The scheme is called Magdala after Mary Magdalene, who in the Bible finds her life is redeemed following her encounters with Jesus.

FAMILY

Rev Ogilvie told The Voice: “We are working with women who are very vulnerable in society for many reasons – their family backgrounds, their life choices.

“Many have had difficult starts in life and our role is to empower them so they can take their place as proper citizens in society.

“Many have suffered domestic abuse and they are traumatised following the removal of their children for adoption. There is no support for them once this has happened.

“Some of these women have never been loved themselves or been accepted. Many have been ‘written off’ by society, or lived in care, with no family experiences of their own to draw on.

“When they come to us they are often very defensive, but with counselling and support here they open up and begin to blossom. Our belief is that you can turn someone’s life around by the way in which you treat them.”

One girl who comes to the centre described how as a 19-year-old she left home after her parents tried to force her into an arranged marriage.

She later discovered she was pregnant and gave birth to premature twins, who have since been adopted against her wishes.

“I was treated very badly but here at this centre I have been accepted and supported" she said. If it was not for them I would not be here now. I now want to help other women who have found themselves in similar situations. I never got the chance to prove my parental abilities and had no one to support me through this tragic decision making. That’s why I want to reach out and assist the group to help give a voice to parents who are at risk of losing their children.”

Joan Blaney, CBE, who is raising awareness of the project and has worked with victims of domestic violence, added: “This centre provides real, non-judgemental support.

DEMEANOUR

“Some of the women who come here have been treated very badly, but when they are treated better, their whole demeanour changes.”

One volunteer added: “We witness some heartbreaking scenes here when children are forcibly adopted. It can be quite brutal for all involved. It’s a bereavement. There’s a great need for counselling and support that is not recognised by society.”

The contact centre, which is applying for funding, has been open for the past two and a half years and is run by manager Lisa Holder, along with a team of volunteers from many different backgrounds who include Nkem, Jo, Anna, Ngozi and Stephanie to name but a few.

The centre can be contacted on 0121 443 1291.

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