Caregiver awarded MBE
In January, Barnsley Caregiver Claire Throssell was awarded an MBE for her tireless campaigning of the Domestic Abuse bill. We spoke to her to ask a few questions about this bill, which has now successfully been made law, as well as talking about how her experiences now apply to her role as a caregiver.
At Home Instead, we always say ‘To us, it’s personal’, and for Claire it is, too. 7 years ago, amid divorce and fighting for custody of her children, Claire lost her two boys in a house fire – which was started by their abusive father. Despite the evidence and conviction of her ex-husband of abuse beforehand, her boys’ voices were still not heard, and, ultimately, it cost them their lives.
The Domestic Abuse bill was the first thing on Claire’s agenda, having experienced first-hand the trauma that it is to endure family court. She wanted to fundamentally alter how the system works with children of domestic abuse; to recognise them as victims, not just witnesses or ‘bystanders’. The campaign was also to stand up for the children, to say their names - not just look at a number in a case review. At the heart of this, she just had to remember,
"Jack’s hand was the last that Paul felt, but who was there for Jack?".
During her campaign, Claire received the support of many, including Women’s Aid, to help her all the way to parliament. After 7 years, the bill finally became law.
"The courts still maintain a culture of contact at any cost", and still issue unsupervised parental rights to convicted abusers - to this, Claire simply asks, "What about the child’s rights?". She also feels the underlying pressure for fathers’ rights, but this isn’t about Mothers versus Fathers, it is about any abusive parent. Now, Claire focuses on the implementation of the law - making solicitors aware, so that they do not continue to charge for ‘family expertise’, when, in reality, they may not be representing their clients sufficiently.
When Claire was first told she would be receiving an MBE, she was completely ‘gobsmacked’. She remembers how, "it only hit her how much had been achieved when in line to see Prince William". Describing how that felt, she stated that she was, "accepting it for the community, to continue to make a difference".
Claire joined us just over a year ago. She describes her interest in care as to, "wanting to give something back". After the 2014 fire, Claire not only lost her boys, but her house too, it was the community that came together and raised the funds needed to rebuild her house. Whether it be looking after those who may have donated, or friends/family members of the people who helped restore the house – Claire wants to find any way she can to ‘give back’.
She likes to think she’s made a positive impact, in any way she can, and describes it as just "feeling good to see a smile on her clients’ faces … I like hearing about the interesting lives they’ve led, and hopefully am able to make a difference in the time I am with them", by looking after them wherever needed. She is also able to use her experiences and knowledge of domestic abuse in order to recognise warning signs and further safeguard her clients.
"For the clients we look after, they are a unique generation, most having experienced a World War, and some two … they are brave and courageous, they deserve the best care - and that’s what I try to give every one of them"
- Claire, Care Professional at Home Instead Barnsley