My name is Natasha and I was once a resident in a Hestia domestic abuse refuge from May to December 2017.

When I came to Hestia I was not in the right frame of mind, a lot had suddenly changed in a short space of time: fleeing domestic abuse, leaving my job, friends and life as I knew it.

It was because of these reasons I felt lost and extremely unhappy. Both my confidence and self-esteem was non-existent and there were times I just couldn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel.

I constantly questioned myself about whether or not I could continue on this journey where life seemed to be taking me.

As much as I felt nothing was ever going to change, I always held on to a glimmer of hope. It was in June 2017 I met Hestia’s Customer Insight Officer. She encouraged me to become a volunteer. She highlighted the opportunities Hestia offers regarding training. This was the turning point in my life, as it was from that conversation I went onto do UK SAYS NO MORE Level 1 Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence Awareness and Survey Assistant.

I’ve also had the pleasure of being a part of two groups, the first being the ‘Better Lives Forum'. It was our role to help prepare events, communicate with staff and contribute to Hestia’s daily operation.

The second group I joined was Hestia’s SURF (Service Users Regional Forum). This is Hestia’s central group of service users who provide insight to the services and provide feedback to improve delivery.

Being involved with the groups helped me improve my skillset, but most importantly, my confidence. I am gradually finding myself again by getting out and meeting new people, and realising my potential and self-worth. I can now see that I have a purpose in life and that as corny as it sounds 'I can'.

I can speak up, I can share my story, I can improve myself and my life, I can help others, I can and want to make a difference, and I will strive to be more with every opportunity that passes my way. Because I know who I am and I finally know where I am going and will continue with the support and advice I have received from Hestia. I can now see the light at the end of the tunnel and now believe that anything with a little help, encouragement and determination is possible. The Hestia approach has definitely empowered and changed my life.