Tanya’s volunteer to staff timeline

Tanya a Specialist Support Worker smiling

Hello my name is Tanya and I’m a specialist support worker at DRCSAS.  Welcome to my short blog about how I came to be working at DRCSAS and why this work and being a feminist is so important to me.

Here’s a little but about me:

2016 – the start of my volunteering experience 

I first joined the organisation in February 2016 as a volunteer.  At the time I was working in supported housing and was looking for a role that allowed me to work closely with people and support them to recover.

The volunteer training was incredible.  I had always thought that I was strong, independent woman but the training really opened my eyes to the extent of discrimination and prejudice that women and girls can be subjected to.  I felt like I “woke up” during that training and a lot of things I had felt about my experience of being a girl and a woman made sense.  I hadn’t been over reacting to things or lacking a sense of humour in the past, my feelings and reactions were legitimate and justified.  I knew that I had found an organisation to which I could belong wholeheartedly and not to have to compromise who I was in the process. The support of the other women both volunteers and staff was so accepting and non-judgemental and was so valuable in helping me to process the learning and the feelings generated by the volunteer training.

That support, energy and laughter sustained me as I continued as a volunteer on the helpline and email service and then progressing to supporting women face to face.  The support available from my volunteer manager and the service manager throughout has been so caring and helpful.  I have felt truly safe and valued in all that I do.

I also took part in various events to promote Womens’ Rights and raise awareness of violence against Women and girls including being part of the  Flash Mob for One Billion Rising, taking part in Exeter’s Reclaim the Night March and supporting others to participate by creating a safe, accepting space for all. Again the power, inspiration and energy I get from coming together with others to tell our truths is life affirming and helps me to carry on fighting for true equality for women.

2019- Joining the staff team

In 2019, I joined the team as a specialist support worker.  I support people face to face and online.  My specialism is that I understand and help people to understand what trauma is and the impact it can have on their lives.  I also understand the unique perspective that being a woman in our society can bring to our feelings and ways of coping with sexual violence and abuse. I work in a person-centred way which simply means that I work at the pace of the individual on what’s important to them and their recovery.

I believe passionately in the right of all victims of abuse and sexual violence to access specialist support and to be supported to recover in the way that is meaningful for them.  It is a privilege to be alongside some-one on their journey and I am always inspired by the power that an individual can harness if they feel validated, believed and listened too, truly listened too and understood.

2020- starting a new service 

I am excited that I am going to be offering online support as a new service for DRCSAS.  Online support will be vital to ensuring our service is more accessible to people across Devon who may not be able to make it to one of our offices for various reasons.

So as I look forward to the year ahead, which think we can all agree has had a very challenging start, I’m feeling positive and energised because our support service is still running, offering vital specialist support to survivors in Devon. We’ve had to adapt but always with the aim of offering the best service and support we possibly can to the people who need us.

staff and volunteers receiving the Queens Award from the Lord Lieutenant at County Hall Exeter Devon
Tanya with members of staff and volunteers receiving the Queens Award from the Lord Lieutenant at County Hall Exeter Devon