Erthygl Blog

Overcoming Challenges

Overcoming Challenges

Dyddiad: 8 Mawrth 2024 | Gan: newpathway
Sara is a Senior Independent Sexual Violence Advisor, single point of contact (SPOC) for Domestic Abuse and Safeguarding Lead, and has been a part of the New Pathways team for seven years. She is a valued friend and colleague, Mum and survivor of a long term health condition. For International Women's Day and Women's History Month, Sara kindly spoke to us about the nature of her role, the challenges she encounters and how she has been able to overcome them to provide quality support to her clients - all whilst achieving several notable successes along the way!


Can you tell us a bit about your role, how long you've done it for and what you do as part of it?

I am currently a Senior Independent Sexual Violence Advisor, single point of contact (SPOC) for Domestic Abuse and a Safeguarding Lead. I have been an ISVA and Domestic Abuse SPOC for seven years and a Safeguarding Lead for just coming up to a year. My role is multi-faceted and has several different elements, including risk assessments and support plans, support through the criminal justice system, advice, guidance to colleagues on domestic abuse related queries, and safeguarding children and vulnerable adults.


What do you enjoy about your role?

No two days are ever the same and it never gets boring. Busy and hectic, yes, but never boring. For me the best part of my role is the clients I support. They are entrusting you on to support them on a journey they never thought they would take and to be part of that is an absolute privilege. I also enjoy supporting clients and helping them solve problems, improve their wellbeing, and will always look for alternative when other doors have been closed. There is no better feeling in the world than being told “Thank you, I never would have got through this without you”.


What are some of the challenges you've experienced/ you experience when performing this role?

In 2013, I had an emergency operation to save my life, giving me an ileostomy/stoma in the process. Back then, there wasn't as much public awareness as there is now. It was life changing. The early days were hard, and I did struggle with reactive depression, however soon bounced back. There has been a further four operations since, with me contracting sepsis in 2019 and then a final operation in lockdown. Since that original operation in 2013, I have been diagnosed with several additional conditions. I am open about having a stoma and my other illnesses. It’s far from easy, but I count myself very lucky to have an amazing support network from family, friends & work family. I know everyone is not that lucky.



"Strength grows in the moments when you think you can't go on,

but you keep going anyway."



What do you do to navigate these challenges?

I have to think of things on daily basis that other people would never even consider, and I have to think outside the box 24/7 - every tiny situation has to be evaluated. I have achieved so much in the last 10 years on reflection, it’s amazing. But I do have difficult days and some days I am too exhausted to move or do anything. Over the years I have come to realise that it’s okay not to be okay. I will always be upfront with how I am feeling and when I need help. I take full responsibility for my own self-care and my health is a top priority for me. I use a variety of coping strategies, such as exercise, reading (my kindle is my prize possession), podcasts, healthy eating, and spending time with my little grandson.


How has/did New Pathways help you overcome these challenges?

My line manager has been an amazing support and has always taken my health into consideration. I can contact her and speak freely of how I am feeling and what we can do. When I was in hospital with sepsis, our CEO checked in on me regularly to make sure I was okay and arranged for me to have access to work assessment when I returned so I could have specialist equipment (which has been a God send), and change my working hours. She also made sure I was aware of our EAP programme and other support such as clinical and management supervisions.

I remember once a bulb had blown in the corridor of my office, and I was unable to use the disabled loo. I just emailed her to let her know and the next day we had a new bulb there. It still makes me laugh now.

Overall support like this is not something you get every day. Not everyone gets that’s from their employer, and I am and always will be extremely grateful.


Who inspires you/ keeps you going through challenging times?

I am very fortunate to have an amazing support network through friends, family, and work family. Some days are harder than others, however the job I do, the clients I support, my family and little grandson are key to getting through challenging times. Last year I completed my Postgraduate Masters Certificate in Victimology and since I had my stoma, I have completed Cardiff Half Marathon, climbed Snowdonia and Pen-y-Fan, as well as much more. The body achieves what the brain believes, and I am a strong believer in this.


What advice would you give to anyone experiencing similar challenges?

Strength grows in the moments when you think you can't go on, but you keep going anyway. This is me. Understanding and acceptance to your new reality can take time however it is part of your story and is part of you but will never define you.

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