We chatted to some of the staff and it was clear that they were really dedicated to and justifiably proud of their cause. We were told that they had around 50 women who were currently receiving their assistance, along with around 100 children. The centre had collected donations of toys, and these would be made available for the Mums to come to choose, wrap and which would then be delivered to them by the refuge workers on Christmas eve so that the children would not suspect a thing. What a wonderful thing to do.
Whilst I was there I was intrigued to see some of the art work created by the service users. They had a wonderful 'wishing tree' made simply from wire and wrapped in knitting yarn, hung with messages and wishes. You will appreciate that I didn't take any photographs but there were some very poignant messages I can assure you and they touched me greatly.
The refuge expects to be at it's busiest over the coming weeks as the stresses of the festive period take their toll.
We walked away from the centre today with the good wishes and thanks of the refuge staff ringing in our ears. I felt a little bit fake really. We had spent a pleasant four hours away from mundane desk jobs. My colleagues and I had a giggle, wearing silly reindeer antlers and drinking coffee. All we had done, really, was to hang up a few strands of tinsel and decorate a couple of trees but they were so grateful to us for doing it. It isn't much to do in the grand scheme of things is it?
We were very quiet on the drive back to the office; each of us, I think, considering what we had and what we could be thankful for.