Ajaz.org has been on the road, visiting The Miscarriage Association and the Bodie Hodges Foundation, two organisations in our family. The Miscarriage Association has been helping people for decades. The Bodie Hodges Foundation is a relative newcomer, established in 2012.
I joined Ruth Bender-Atik, the National Director of The Miscarriage Association in the charity's office in Wakefield. This is a very modest terrace house, an outward sign of the inward character of this remarkable institution, one that does not make a lot of noise about its work but one that delivers it, every day, with steadfast and compassionate determination, there for those who face or who have been through the experience of pregnancy loss.
My time with Ruth was a revelation for me in many ways. Both of us are late in our careers and years, and both find great meaning in what we do. Having worked for so long with and around young people, it was lovely for me to sit with a seasoned and experienced professional like Ruth. I drew inspiration and strength from her example.
Ruth explained pregnancy loss to me and how the helpline team listen without judgement and sit alongside those needing to talk. For some people, pregnancy loss might be experienced as a blip in their pregnancy history, or perhaps a relief if this was an unwanted or very problematic pregnancy and these feelings are entirely understandable. For many if not most others it is an enormous sadness, representing the loss of a much longed for baby, whose loss brings pain and grief. Ruth and helpline team are there for everyone, quietly ready to help people through in whatever way they can.
Ruth shared how, during the pandemic, the Miscarriage Association saw its community raise considerable sums for the charity - funds that will make a massive difference in helping the Miscarriage Association reach and support even more people. Ruth and I talked about how ability to give like this may in some small way be a kind of "redemption" for that I mean, a route to hope some way of finding purpose, finding good or light in the face of trauma, sadness and loss.
We shared lots of ideas and thought about fundraising and new opportunities. We parted, both of us buzzing with thought about the work ahead and how much more we can share, together and with the family at Ajaz.org, in future.
Wednesday took me south, to Leicester, to Bodie's House, the new centre for the Bodie Hodges Foundation.
Here, both Sam Kelly and I, met Donna Hodges, co-Founder of the Foundation. This charity exists to support families bereaved of a child. Sam knew Nick, her husband and co-Founder at university, and the two have stayed in touch. We had a warm welcome and a tour of the centre, a place where people find support and professional help with a very personal touch.
Sadly, Donna and Nick, lost their son Bodie, in a choking accident when nearly 11 months old. In the early days, weeks, and months after Bodie's death, they found no formal support was available to them, something they knew at the time was wrong Later, Nick and Donna agreed that they should address this and provide for other families the early help they had needed.
Donna and her team of bereavement therapists offer families one-to-one support, with creative activities and a chance to meet and make new friends with other families who understand completely.
Sessions can now be held in Bodie's House, this place of calm and kindness, where all are welcome. Siblings come to talk and to take part in creative and energetic activities at the same time. All of this helps children and families find their way through.
Donna told us a story of one young lad who had shut down his feelings and did not want to talk. The drama workshop he attended included a game of football and it was during the game, he started to open up.
We met Nicola Rhodes, the lead Child and Family Bereavement Therapist, whose work makes a difference for children and parents who are struggling. She goes above and beyond for the families she supports - doing all she can for them, no matter what. There is a family feel at Bodie Hodges Foundation - and many people who have supported from the start, remain involved and in touch.
Like the Miscarriage Association, the team at the Bodie Hodges Foundation meet people where they are and through early intervention, and in a variety of ways, catch them as fall through the inky darkness of grief.
Bodie Hodges Foundation has big ambitions, so the team can be ready to help grieving more grieving families as the need is so great. We look forward to working with them.
"Ajaz" means miracle. When life seems against you, when you feel you have nowhere to turn for support, you may feel that only a miracle could help to put things right again.
We started this work to help those like Ruth, Donna, Nick and their teams, the providers of miracles, for people in moments where they are needed most. We have much more to do.