Two mums who fled abusive relationships and moved with their children into Llamau’s refuges have written a book to help parents and children fleeing domestic abuse to adjust to life in refuge. We were so proud to debut the book at a launch event in Caerphilly Library.

‘Granny Grey Saves the Day’ tells the story of a family that have to leave home suddenly after a volcano erupts on the island where they are living. They are greeted by Granny Grey, who sails the seas meeting parents and their children who have had to leave their home, and provides them with a safe place to stay until they find a new home.

The book will be given to young children moving into our refuge accommodation, as part of a welcome backpack which is given to every child who moves in.

Written by Claire and Charrisse, the book is inspired by their own experiences of moving into refuge with young children. The two women and Llamau colleagues wrote the book over the course of 8 weeks in collaboration with PETRA Publishing, an organisation which works with parents to create unique books for children inspired by real-life experiences.

Tracy Wallbank of PETRA Publishing said:

It was an honour for the PETRA team to work alongside Claire, Charrisse and the Llamau team to create a storybook that will be a valuable resource for parents and children adjusting to life at a refuge. As well as being a valuable resource the book stands alone as a really lovely story.

I am humbled that I was given the opportunity to work alongside two very inspirational women to create a book I know they will be proud of for years to come.

Frances Beecher, Chief Executive of Llamau, said:        

Moving into refuge can be extremely traumatic for children. Leaving everything they know and everything that is familiar to them is hugely confusing and unsettling for a child. Seeing that confusion and upset can often make mum question her decision. Leaving an abusive relationship is unquestionably the right thing to do, both for the woman and her children. Having support around that decision is critical and that’s where Llamau’s colleagues step in. 

To have a children’s book around this topic, which children can read or mum can read with them, is fantastic. It helps the child to understand that their feelings are entirely normal and can help the relationship between child and mum, as they see that mum is doing the best thing for the family. We are so proud and delighted to launch Claire and Charrisse’s brilliant book today, which will help so many children to better understand and make sense of what is happening.

I’d like to add how grateful and proud we are to both Claire and Charrisse, who are going to be helping so many families through this amazing book. Thank you both.

Pupils and teachers from Ysgol Gymraeg Caerffili joined us to listen to a reading of the book, as well as Hefin David AM and Councillor Mike Adams, Mayor of Caerphilly.

Hefin David AM said the book launch offered a thought - provoking insight into the experiences of women who’ve gone through very challenging periods in their life. He said:

Llamau offer a much – needed service to young people and women who will often depend on support from trained professionals. The book launch at Caerphilly Library offered a good opportunity for invitees to listen to real life experiences through an interactive format

We'd like to say a huge thank you and congratulations to everyone who was involved in producing the book, including PETRA Publishing, Caerphilly Families First and the Caerphilly Parent Network, and especially to Charrisse and Claire for so bravely sharing their own experiences.

Claire's Story

Claire was in a relationship with her ex-partner for 8 years. The emotional abuse started shortly after Claire gave birth to her twin sons, and got progressively worse over the years they were together.

‘It started when he moved me to his local area. He told me I wasn’t allowed to leave the house without him - I wasn’t allowed to drive or go to work and he controlled all of our finances. It wasn’t long before I was completely isolated.’

‘I never knew when he was going to lose his temper or what would happen when he did. He was determined to break me down.’

‘Things had gotten so bad that I hardly remember the last two years we were together. When I called Llamau, I was at absolute breaking point. A support worker met me the next day in a nearby car park. All I had with me was the boys, £20 and a suitcase.’

‘Moving into refuge was a huge mix of emotions. I felt relieved, but very nervous about the future. I had no idea what to expect, or where we were going to go from here. My boys were only 6 years old at the time. I was worried for them and how they would cope.’

‘We lived in the refuge for 5 months in total. It doesn’t sound like long, but it felt like a lifetime. The support from Llamau was amazing, they made me feel at ease straight away. There was always someone there whenever I needed them. I could say anything and never feel judged, embarrassed or ashamed.

‘It was so important to me to protect my two boys. I used to tell them we were living in ‘The Special House’, and that it was so lovely here that we couldn’t tell anyone else where it is, otherwise everyone would want to live here.’

‘Living in refuge, you feel surrounded by people who understand - it was really important to me that that came across in the book. You get to meet people with similar experiences to your own, which helped me to realise the abuse wasn’t my fault. I did have a few wobbles when it came time for us to leave and move into our own house, but I know that Llamau are always just a phone call away.’

‘Writing the book was a therapeutic experience. I feel so proud that we have taken bad experiences and used them to create something positive to help other people in similar situations.’

Charrisse’s Story

Charrisse’s ex-partner began emotionally abusing her when she was pregnant with her daughter.

‘I had a lot of physical pain whilst I was pregnant, which limited my movement. I’d offer to do jobs around the house, but whenever I tried to he would tell me to sit down. Afterwards, he would throw it back in my face, saying he has to do everything around the house and criticising me for never helping.’

‘He tried to alienate me over time, controlling all of our money and stopping people coming round to see me. My friends stopped wanting to come round when he was there, because he made them so uncomfortable. Before long, my friends stopped wanting to come round even when he wasn’t there, because they were worried he might come home.  I felt isolated and depressed.’

‘My health worker noticed the change in my mood, and I explained to her what was going on. She gave me Llamau’s number and told me to call them when I felt ready. I knew I couldn’t go on like this, and that it wasn’t a good environment for my children. In the end, I made the decision for them. I called Llamau and met a support worker within hours, who took me and my two children to refuge.’

‘It was hard moving into refuge and sharing a room with the two kids, but the support from Llamau helped to make the transition easier. Because my ex had controlled our bank accounts, I found it hard to budget once I had access to my own money again. Llamau helped me to budget, and I took part in the Freedom programme which helped me to understand healthy relationships.’

‘Moving into our own house after refuge was an amazing feeling. I hope that the book helps people to feel that they are not alone, and that there are brighter days ahead.’