Jasmine’s life is transformed through Building Better Opportunities project
Eighteen months ago, Jasmine Clinton had to flee from an abusive relationship for her own safety and that of her four children. She had to create a new life for her family in Bedford, a place where she knew no-one, and felt the shockwaves of her turbulent past every day.
However, her life took an altogether happier turn when she embarked upon a National Lottery-funded enterprise programme through charity SABA. Thanks to its ongoing guidance, Jasmine is now able to envisage a happy and secure future for her family, in which she uses her experience to help fellow survivors of domestic abuse.
Jasmine explained how she was introduced to the charity which changed her life. “When I was trying to get myself together, I found that art became a real therapy,” she said. “I hadn’t done it since school, but I just picked up a pencil and found that I really enjoyed it. It was useful to depict myself and the emotions I was going through at the time. So I joined an art therapy group, and through that I found out about SABA.”
The 32-year-old is being guided by project co-ordinator Anita Powell as part of the Building Better Opportunities project. This is funded by the National Lottery through the Big Lottery Fund and the European Social Fund. The initiative is managed by training and skills provider The Consultancy Home Counties Ltd (TCHC).
Jasmine, whose children are aged between 14 and two, said: “I had been a primary school teacher before I moved to Bedford, but after what happened I just wasn’t ready to go back to that. At first, Anita helped me to look for ways to make a career through my art, but it became clear to me that my future lay in helping other women in my situation.”
Anita has been meeting Jasmine on a regular basis over the last few months, helping her formulate an action plan to shape her future goals, as well as giving her useful connections in the local area and guiding her through job interview training. “Anita’s knowledge blows my mind,” said Jasmine. “She’s so well connected, so supportive and gave me great advice. It is a very collaborative process and has had a huge impact on me.”
Since becoming involved with SABA, Jasmine successfully organised an exhibition of artwork at Bedford Library, entitled Bittersweet: The Untold Story. Held for two weeks last November, the event featured pieces by survivors of domestic abuse, raising awareness of the issue and telling their stories.
Jasmine said: “As well as help from Anita, the exhibition would not have been possible without the support of The Butterfly Project and Families First Bedfordshire. It helped the recovery of the women who took part, and signposted anyone affected by domestic violence to useful organisations. It was great to create a buzz around the artwork and its cause.”
Jasmine has also secured voluntary work with a children’s centre and has set up her own online support hub for survivors of domestic violence. This is called ROAR (Reach Out: Art Recovery), and Jasmine hopes it will one day become a fully-fledged charity.
“While I haven’t yet achieved everything I set out to when I first went to SABA, I’ve gained so much more than that,” she added. “I’ve understand that changing my life is going to be a long-term thing.”
She added: “SABA has completely transformed the way I see the future for myself and my children. I couldn’t see the wood for the trees beforehand, and now it’s the calmest we’ve ever been. I am so grateful to have this experience; when I go to tackle a problem now, it’s like Anita is sitting on my shoulder guiding me.”
Anita said: “Jasmine is a highly creative and passionate student. She is a pleasure to work with, and every week it is great to see her develop plus watching her confidence and her ideas grow.”
TCHC Chairman Dale Morgan said: “It is wonderful that the Enterprising People Building Better Opportunities programme has helped Jasmine change her life for the better after such a volatile experience. She is an inspiration to others in her situation and we wish her all the very best in the future.”