Seeing as Emerge are currently celebrating their 3rd Birthday, I thought it was about time to share my views, experience and downright love and gratitude for this group of exceptional people; especially a certain few who saved my life.

Emerge is a charity set up by Joy Wright. Joy set up  Emerge in 2016 to support young people who enter a&e with anything self harm or suicide related. Based in Royal Surrey County Hospital their website says;

“One of our team of friendly youth workers will come straight away to sit with you, listen and try to help you make sense of why you’re at hospital and what you need to say to those looking after you. Or if you prefer we can play cards or chat about random things… or a bit of everything. That’s the great thing about youth work, it’s based around what will be the most helpful for you and its your choice whether you would like our support and what you want to tell us”.

Emerge is a project run with the support of local churches who exist to help and support young people of all faiths and none.

My experience of Emerge summed up in a few words would be “they saved my life”. And they did, I’m not just saying this or was asked to say this and put out a good word but Emerge have been such a big part of my journey even though it was only a year out of my 7 year journey, they have stood out from anything and anyone as the ones who saved me the most. I first met someone from Emerge in June 2017 (if I remember correctly).  I was in hospital from an overdose and I’d never heard of Emerge before, so when the nurses asked if I wanted to see someone from Emerge I had no idea what they were going on about, but I got given their little flyer and thought sure I’ll grab any help I can get right now. It was late at night around 10pm and in comes Tracy and Sarah they came and sat with me and asked if I was ok, if I wanted anything, if I needed anything, they straight away made me feel at ease. They sat there, they didn’t force me to say anything, I was rather unwell but they stayed and told me it was OK and I didn’t need to be sorry for anything. I was doodling in my sketchbook and both Tracy and Sarah said I was really good and they looked through both my Happy and Sad sketchbooks (yes I had two sketchbooks with different kinds of drawings in). Tracy asked if she could write me something in my book so I said of course, and I still have the drawing to this day and I look at it if I need a little pick me up.

It’s the little things, that always make the biggest difference. They stayed till probably around 11:15pm and said someone would come see me tomorrow if I wanted and I said yes. So the next day Joy came to see me and again didn’t force me to say anything, she just sat there and if I wanted to talk I could. I remember feeling safe, for the first time in a while. I wrote some things down and showed her and she made sure I got the help I needed, she spoke to the nurses and liaised with the people who could help me. When it was time for Joy to leave she asked if she could message me and maybe make a catch up meeting to see how I was getting on etc, I said ok. I can’t remember how long it was when I received a message from Emerge asking if I was free for a catch up coffee, of course I said yes.

A few weeks later I met up with Joy and Tracy at a local coffee shop we had a catch up and I opened up a bit more about me, my story and what has helped and not helped in the past. It was just so relaxed and easy, and for me opening up has never been easy especially not to people who I’d only met once or twice. We had a few laughs and jokes which always helps brighten the mood, making it more chilled and easy-going, and of course with me as some of you may know I get through my dark times by most of the time making sarcastic jokey remarks (which both Joy and Tracy learned to laugh with too!). I finally thought I’d met some people who actually get me and can maybe make a difference in my care and life; I was very right.

I met up with either Joy, Tracy or both as and when I needed too and Joy always kept messaging to make sure I was ok and what was going on etc. We met up at least once a month, things were hard for me but Joy was ALWAYS on the other end of the phone and would be the first to make sure I was safe. There were a few times I got admitted back into Royal Surrey A&E with suicide attempts and Joy always made sure someone was with me and I could talk to someone. Joy and myself got so close, and so did Tracy and I; I found two people I trusted and who actively tried EVERYTHING they could to help me. I’d be sat in hospital and we’d play cards, we’d draw, colour (I think I have coloured at least 6 of the Emerge flyers).

Things were very hard for me, I was transitioning into adult services from CAMHS, the only stable thing I had in my life was Emerge. They helped me open up to my new adult care coordinator, Joy even came to a few appointments with me to help get across what I needed. One night I was struggling a lot and Joy met me at a Safe Haven and helped me talk to the crisis nurse there, she knew that I needed someone with me or I ultimately wouldn’t have gone and probably would have ended up in hospital by the end of the night. Joy knew me so well, after 6 months I’m pretty sure she could just read my mind or by my facial expressions knew exactly how I was feeling, which was, VERY annoying but good at the same time!

We did some random activities together – In the November Tracy and Joy decided that because I was doing alright and had been out of hospital for X amount of weeks we would all go ice skating together. Which was so nice, it was different, it was something I was looking forward too. It was hilarious and I’ll always remember how awful I was to begin with but by the end I wasn’t clinging to either one of them for dear life, I was moving on, I managed on my own. Their words were “we feel like proud mums that you managed to do it without us”. Which I guess is exactly like my journey with them. To begin with I was clinging to them using all their support and by the end I was managing more without them, using everything they taught me to grow and flourish. Joy and I also went rock climbing (Tracy totally chickened out last-minute ? ). As we kept seeing people rock climbing in the sports centre so we went and had a laugh, I found out how extremely hard rock climbing was but I was so proud of myself that I could do it.

(In order from left to right Tracy, myself, Joy)

Of course not all of the year Emerge were supporting me was easy, we had our arguments, there were tears, there was storming out of hospitals, police being called, ambulances, you name it I think I put Emerge through it all. But, through it all, everything I put on Joy, Tracy and the entire team; they didn’t give up, they didn’t leave me, they stuck by me and listened. They knew what I needed and how to help me and for that I am and will be eternally grateful. Without Emerge I don’t know where I’d be or if I would actually be here today. There were times I HATED them, I wanted them to leave me alone to die, to destroy myself. I actually said goodbye to Joy but she was on to me and after a few complete breakdowns got me to hospital in one piece. No matter how strong I pushed them away they always pushed back further.

Near the end of my time with Emerge one night I was in hospital and Joy said is it alright if she brings along a new work colleague, I said yes and that’s when I met Kathleen. Who gave me so many life lessons in such a short space of time. I was physically so ill when I met Kathleen but she did everything in her power to make me feel a bit better, and to feel safe. We all played cards until late (I’m pretty sure they both worked past their shift and ended up leaving later than planned which just shows how caring they all are), then Kathleen told me a few stories to distract me, she made me feel so safe, her presence, her aura was just so reassuring. I will always remember the inspiring story you told me Kathleen (I know you’re reading this), that will stay with me forever, that will give me hope on my dark days.

After a year it was time for me to say goodbye and move on from using Emerge, it wasn’t the easiest or most natural of goodbyes, but we all went out for a Bills lunch, which was so lovely. Joy, Tracy and Kathleen all got me cards, which I still have to this day and will never get rid of. They’re full of positive memories, inspiring words, they’re all just so lovely. It was a very emotional meal, there were tears, tears of sadness because we’d all grown this very special relationship but also tears of happiness/proudness because over the year although very difficult and a rollercoaster of emotions I had come so far and grown as a person. Which without them I couldn’t have done. No team throughout the 4 years of previous services had managed to bring that out of me.

Joy, I can’t thank you enough for setting up Emerge, it has helped and saved so many people, one being me. You never gave up on me, no matter how much I tried to get you to leave me alone, you didn’t. Thank you. All of the team I met were so (excuse my language); bloody amazing.

Tracy, you are just such a caring, compassionate person. You’re so thoughtful with everything you do. You were always there for me through rain or shine, you were a light in the tunnel for me.

Kathleen, although I didn’t know you for as long as I have Joy and Tracy it was like I had – you taught me so much in such a short space of time, all your wise words and stories I’ll never forget.

The entire of the Emerge team are amazing, but I am mentioning these three because of the huge impact they have had on my life. I wouldn’t be here writing this without them. Thank you. All of you, never give up what you do, you all have such an amazing gift of helping and supporting people. I apologise for my… shall we call them, moments?

Since our goodbye, we arranged that in 6 months time we’d meet up (January 2019), we have since met up, it was so nice and I got to tell them what I have done and achieved in those 6 months. Although we don’t speak often or see each other as we used too, I will always know that they are thinking about me and wishing me well.

Out of all the services I’ve been with, Emerge will always have that special place in my heart, what they do, for young people, services, hospital staff everyone, is just extraordinary. Emerge were my lifeline, my life saviour in rough waters, they were always there in their life boat ready to throw me a buoyancy aid to help me at least stay a float till something could be put in place.

They never let me drown, and I am eternally grateful.

This blog was written by Jasmine, used by Emerge Advocacy with her permission.

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