For over 15 years Cherie Parnell worked as a family law barrister. Week in, week out she represented women whose children were permanently removed and she thought surely there must be support groups she could refer these women to. But when Cherie searched online she only found support groups for the mums adopting children.
If you lost a child through death or miscarriage the community around you would be compassionate and kind. You would be able to access, both locally and nationally, a number of charities that could support you through your grief and heartache. Mothers who lose their children for other reasons also suffer terrible grief but it is compounded by shame. This toxic mix keeps them isolated and stuck in destructive cycles. They receive from their community judgment and blame.
As Cherie could find no peer to peer support group running, she kept thinking someone should do something about this. She could not shake the hand of one more mother and wish them ‘best of luck’ knowing that in a few weeks time they would be having a ‘goodbye contact’ with their child never to see them again. She knew that many of them would go alone and the pain would be unbearable. So Cherie prayed a lot and struggled with her decision but she finally realised that the someone who had to do something was her! So, Cherie gave up her job and, with the help of two friends from Burlington Baptist Church, she set up a support group called BEAM. That was 4 years ago.
“It is a very precious time of blessing these amazing mums and asking Jesus to help them”
Cherie says, “The last 4 years have had their ups and downs but it has been so worth it. We are all unpaid volunteers providing a safe place every Monday for women to come and share and learn. Seeing transformation in the lives of the hurting women has been a privilege. For them to walk through the doors, given the stigma of being deemed ‘unfit’ to be a mother, takes immense courage. However, when they do come they find BEAM is a place where they can learn to move forward despite the pain. Although we are not an evangelical group (we are not trying to convert anyone) we do offer a blessing at the end of every session for any woman wants to stay for it. It is a very precious time of blessing these amazing mums and asking Jesus to help them.”
Cherie continues, “I am sometimes asked, ‘Is this really a problem?’. Statistically the numbers are startling. We know every week approximately 2 women a week are murdered as a result of domestic violence. This is a tragic figure which has been stubbornly static for years. The number of children removed into the care system every single day in the UK is 109. This number has been rising year on year.”
The need is enormous but the women are invisible. They are truly the forgotten women of our generation. The aim is that one day there will a national network of support groups. No mother should have to suffer this pain alone. Please pray with that more women around the country will be wiling to start groups. BEAM has the material to help them do this and will provide training. And most importantly please pray for the mums of BEAM to find comfort, strength and hope for each day.
If anyone wants to share BEAM’s details with a mother who might like to come they are as follows: www.beam.support / 01473 760800. And if anyone is interested in setting up a group in their town then BEAM would love to hear from you.