Starting Over

As a charity, the Community Foundation Wakefield District helps people across the West Yorkshire city in all sorts of ways. From emergency winter fuel grants, distributed via WMDC, to highlighting the work of local volunteers, we are firmly rooted in Wakefield and the Five Towns, with a commitment and passion to improve the lives of local people who may be struggling.

Another way we do this is through The Community Give Box, which is our retail shop in Trinity Walk, Wakefield. Like other charity shops, we sell second-hand (and some new) items, the revenue from which further underpins the support we give.

Often, we receive referrals to help people in need via other charitable organisations in the area. This may be for household items, for specific ages/sizes of clothing, or equipment for a local group, for example. If we have what they need, it’s theirs.

Just before Christmas, *Pamela contacted us directly for help. Below is her story of the position she was in at the time, and how The Community Give Box and the Foundation helped her.

‘I was homeless and living in a shelter, as a victim of domestic abuse. I’d had no choice but to leave when I discovered that my ex-husband, with whom I had been living (I had nowhere to go when our marriage ended) had been putting drugs in my food. He left me without access to money; I had only the clothes I was wearing when I left. At one point, I had no food or shoes and, for a few months, I couldn’t even go outside as I had no pants to wear.

‘When I started making plans for my boys and I to move on with our lives, my ex-husband hatched a plan to ‘remove me’ from my children, so that he wouldn’t have to pay child support. I’ve been fighting to free my sons and clear my name ever since I walked out.

‘I feel like I’ve been living a nightmare for so long. But, with the help of people from organisations such as WDH, Freecycle, Nextdoor and The Community Give Box, I’m now where I need to be, and I’m in a much better position to fight for justice. The day I left, I thought I would have to sleep on the floor with nothing but the clothes on my back. Julia (The Community Give Box manager) was my saviour that day. Her heart knows no bounds—she was my guardian angel. I couldn’t stop crying when I left the store with everything I needed to get me started. I didn’t know people like her existed until that day. Those I’d met up to that point hadn’t always been kind. I’d also been under the control of a bad man for twenty-two years, and barely escaped with my life. Now, I’m fighting to free my babies too.

‘Julia gave me bedding, crockery and utensils, a rug (which I thought I’d be sleeping on) cups, glasses, lampshades, towels, a warm dressing gown, and an electric frying pan—which was a godsend, as I didn’t receive a cooker for almost two weeks. I couldn’t believe my eyes.

‘I’m now settled in a flat and about to launch a business. I’m also fighting for justice for my sons and I, now that I’ve had the time and space to recover from the PTSD I incurred. I’m also a passionate advocate for Indigenous and Ethnic Minority rights.’

What would you say to someone in the same position?

‘Have faith that places like The Community Give Box exist. Don’t ever give up hope that there are genuine, good-hearted people out there who want to make a difference. When I cried, Julia cried—that’s how much she cares.

‘It’s important that, when we get back on our feet, we remember to give back—to give thanks and pay it forward. Don’t take kindness and charity for granted. Remember to hold your head up high when you walk into places like The Community Give Box to ask for help…there’s no shame in having to begin again. I’m grateful for all the people and organisations that helped me, as they’re few and far between. They shouldn’t be needed at all, but I’m glad they’re there. I’ll never be able to thank Julia and her colleagues enough for their kindness and understanding.’

*Name has been changed