“I became determined to create something positive. Not to live in darkness but to find my light and shine it on as many people as I can”
Themes: Creative skills; advice; groups
Talking to Liz is inspiring. She is engaged and passionate about the world, despite experiencing a traumatic early life and learning to cope with profound deafness.
Liz lost her beloved mother in tragic circumstances when she was just 12. Her formal education was interrupted and she spent time in care before moving into adulthood, where she sadly experienced domestic violence and clinical depression. “I felt trapped in my head,” she said. “I had no confidence and I didn’t feel safe in the world”
But Liz is also a survivor. She has four children and six grandchildren she is very proud of and they became a focus for her. Liz’s son is partially sighted and she wants him to have a good life and to be able to express himself fully and access the help he needs.
Six years ago Liz was hospitalized after her neck was broken in two places in an accident. “Surprisingly,” she explains, “that was the moment I knew for sure I really wanted to live”
On recovery, a friend Martin, suggested that Liz would benefit from becoming involved with the Bromley by Bow Centre.
This coincided with a period in which she had started to turn her life around. Liz began a path of learning and self-education, focusing on understanding, creativity, spirituality and letting things go.
At the Centre, Liz joined our regular creative skills sessions which enabled her to experience many types of creative expression including photography and to build new friendships through the cultural trips. “Meeting people really helped” said Liz “We all have our struggles and they accepted me as I am” Liz was given support from the Centre’s energy advice team too with meter issues she was struggling to resolve.
As Liz’s learning grew, she began to reflect on men’s issues and how it’s possible to get stuck in a vicious cycle. “Many men are taught to suppress emotions and see vulnerability as a weakness. Finding it difficult to express how they feel and seek help, sometimes leads to violence. Add to this disabilities, special needs and ethnic differences and no wonder three quarters of suicides involve men”
Liz decided to develop a brand focusing on the importance of men’s wellbeing and a made a series of products for men; t-shirts, gym bags, keyrings (see below). Liz only recoups material costs and gives her creative time for free. A small sum goes to support local men’s groups including Men’s Cave at the Centre every Friday 2.30-4.30pm. Many local men now sport their Men’s Wellbeing t-shirt with pride and have learned to open up about the challenges they face, thanks to Liz.
Liz concludes: “I became determined to create something positive out of negative life experience. Not to live in darkness but to find my light and shine it on as many people as I can”