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Great Yarmouth blog, June 2019: Alison's story

One of the reasons that I love my job is the people I’m privileged to meet. People who move me, encourage me and inspire me.

One such person is Alison (name changed). I met Alison at the Salvation Army family drop-in. I was introduced to her because she has been involved in setting up and running the drop-in which supports local families.

Alison gave me a warm welcome, just as she did with each person who walked through the door. From her care for people and what she has been able to achieve, you would never be able to guess the pain she has been through.

Alison grew up in foster families, and she says it was from one of these families that she first learned to have a positive attitude. She said that her foster parents reminded her that there is always someone in the world who is worse off. After leaving school without qualifications, Alison ended up in an abusive relationship which eventually ended with the suicide of her partner, leaving her alone with two children. Life was really tough, but she didn’t give up.

Alison was offered basic cookery lessons through her children’s school which she accepted. She didn’t think she could cook, but as she attended the lessons she realised that she could, and her confidence increased. She pursued this route, taking more advanced courses followed by a course to enable her to teach others and finally a college course. This enabled her to work in kitchens in restaurants and schools so that she could support her children. She is now in a happy, positive relationship and although there is still healing needed, she and her children are doing well. She says that she wants her story to encourage people “not to give up in life, it can be hard at times but there's always an opportunity to change things for the better.”

The thing that inspires me most about Alison is that in spite of all she has been through she is still concerned for other people. Not only has she been involved in setting up the family drop-in, but she is also hoping to use the skills she has developed to lead cooking classes for some of these families, so that they can have the same opportunities to develop skills and confidence that she did.

Alison’s desire to serve others with what she has given reminds me of the words of Jesus to his disciples as He sent them out to the communities around them: “Give as freely as you have received!” (Matthew 10:8, The Bible). This week I’m going to try to remember the wisdom of Alison that I always have things to be grateful for, and the command of Jesus that I have been given those things to be able to love and bless the people around me, just like Alison.

Cooking

“Give as freely as you have received!”

Matthew 10:8