50 Years 50 Voices "I feel like the negatives have led to the positives in my life." Margaret's Story I first came to Hestia in 2004. My contact with my abusive ex-partner became unhealthy. He was using my children to come and see me all the time and coming to my mum’s house to look for me. One time, a neighbour left the door open and he sneaked in. The further I pushed him away and put up those boundaries, the worse he got. A friend said that I should to go to a refuge. It took days of thinking about it to come to a decision, because it is literally walking away from the life you have. All you have is the hope for a new life. We had to adapt. I took my boys with me, one of whom has autism, so he found it especially difficult to deal with the change. Before finding Hestia, we were in a different refuge. My boys were a bit older, so finding a refuge space was hard. When I finally found Hestia, it was a relief. The other people in the refuge were lovely. We would sit down with our children and chat. In 2007, I become a Peer Support Volunteer with Hestia, planning events to support the women and children in the services. Then I started baking for everyone. Photo: Lara Marie Before I came to the refuge, I was going to start a baking company. I have been baking ever since I was 15 years old. I started off doing children’s cake-making workshops in the refuge, then in local schools. I even did a cake workshop for residents in a halfway house in Trinidad & Tobago, while doing some outreach work. My passion grew from there. I learnt that my grandmother was also a baker, but had never spoken about it. It motivated me to write a recipe book, The Recipe of My Life, and dedicate it to her. It helped me to process some of the pain I’d been through. The singer Billy Ocean had inspired me to bake at the age of 15 years old - I made him cheese scones! It wasn’t all plain sailing from there though. In 2011, I wasn’t even able to bake a cake as I lost the sensation in my whole left side. I had noticed symptoms of Multiple sclerosis and was soon diagnosed with kidney failure. These health problems gave way to my second passion. I got into spiritual healing and decided to become a reiki master. It took three years to complete the course but I’m so glad I did; being a reiki master allows me to help other people. I do really enjoy helping other people, whether it’s by baking them a cake or supporting them on their healing journey. I feel like the negatives have led to the positives in my life. The refuge lead to me baking and my health issues led to my reiki practice. There was a period where I was very stressed because I felt I was constantly running away from something, just to be safe. I don’t have that resentment now; I don’t hold onto that bitterness. I started to appreciate my solitude and it brought me peace. Photo: Stevan Borthwick My boys have grown up now and I’m a grandmother. I get to spend my life with them, teaching them about how to become good people in society. My son with autism, Mikiel, is now a professional dancer and teaches dance to children in a special needs school. He’s worked with Stormzy – it’s amazing. My other sons are doing well, too – Tafari is a sound engineer, Solomon is a lift engineer and Elijah is about to start studying creative media & music technology at college. I am so proud. And I am happy. Which book has impacted me the most? It would have to be The Bible. I remember packing this in my bag. It gave us hope, strength, courage. Looking back on it, I feel we had the emotional and spiritual support that was needed, at that time, especially when we felt alone, when we went through some challenging times. As much as our patience was tested - we had hope. Which film has impacted me the most? The Lord Of The Rings & The Hobbit – because I was gifted the book to read when I became pregnant with my first son. Which song has impacted me the most? It has to be Hero by Mariah Carey because I had great support workers, who I’ll always be grateful for. They gave me so much hope to continue to carry on, to never stop believing in myself and my family. I also made some wonderful friends, whilst living this changed life, that reminded me that life can get better and better. These are my heroes.