In the 1980s, Jenna Glasscock embarked on a journey as a dedicated volunteer for The Haven Wolverhampton. She shares an inspiring narrative, exploring the circumstances that led her to volunteer for The Haven, her growth within the organisation, and a particularly unforgettable encounter with a very active toddler!
In 1984, I was a wide-eyed 22-year-old college student in America, immersed in the fascinating world of Psychology. Little did I know that an incredible journey was about to unfold; one that would change the course of my life and instil within me an unwavering commitment to helping those in need.
It all began when I heard about a program offered by Brown University in the US that would take me across the Atlantic to the United Kingdom. When the good folks at the Community Service Volunteers (CSV) group asked me what I’d like to do during my stay, there was no hesitation in my response. “I want to work with victims of domestic abuse,” I declared.
The motivation behind my choice was deeply personal. My landlady, a courageous woman, had fled from the clutches of an abusive partner. I vividly recalled the turmoil she endured, and that memory ignited a fire within me to provide solace and support to others who found themselves trapped in the same nightmare.
In those days, The Haven comprised just three refuges, each with dedicated support workers. My role was versatile, ranging from offering a compassionate ear to the women in need to assisting with practical matters. I’ll never forget the time I rushed a woman and her toddler to the hospital after a rather unfortunate eye-poking incident. It was the unpredictability of the role that both challenged and inspired me.
At first, everything was foreign to me, including the complex issues I was helping women and children navigate. But I had no choice but to dive in and figure it out. The trust bestowed upon me was remarkable, and with each passing day, my confidence soared. Those months at The Haven shaped me in profound ways.
I was only there for seven months, leaving in January 1985, but it didn’t take long for me to realise that I couldn’t stay away. In the autumn of 1985, I returned as a volunteer, this time entrusted with the role of second-in-command at one of the refuges. I was responsible for the day-to-day operations and the coordination of volunteers. In this new capacity, I truly blossomed, and the confidence I gained was immeasurable.
When I eventually returned to the US, I continued my mission by volunteering for a domestic abuse support service in San Francisco, California. This experience solidified my dedication, leading me to graduate school where I completed a Feminist Therapy program.
Now, nearly four decades on from my initial journey, I proudly hold the title of a licensed therapist. My time at The Haven was the compass guiding me to my current path. Those precious moments spent alongside incredible colleagues and service users will forever occupy a special place in my heart.
The connections I formed during my time at The Haven endure to this day. Revisiting Wolverhampton earlier this year, I marveled at the evolution of the services and cherished the opportunity to return to a place that was such a significant part of my life’s journey. In the end, The Haven was not just a place I volunteered; it was the birthplace of my lifelong commitment to helping those in need, a chapter that continues to be written with every person I support.