Week 102, studying and my own arrows

Fast hurtling to that 2nd birthday for Integr8archery CIC and I have added the number save from the few that will be added in the next two weeks. Though the anniversary is 28/6/24 I will use the 25/6/24 blog for the birthday announcement.

This week was just the steady delivery of ongoing projects nothing extra as I had been aware it was a big week for my PBS course, portfolio finished, handed in and presentation done! Strange when you consider how many hours I have spent in court being questioned by the defence, how anxious standing in a room of my peers and assessors became, but I think it was all good so now to wait and see if my grades see me become a practise leader 🤞🏻

Anyone who knew me in 2000 knows about my accident in lockdown, falling on a tree I was cutting down in the garden and impaling my leg on it and the issues that resulted. Thursday I had a clumsy accident and hurt the injury, ended up having it looked at due to the swelling, bruising, pain and sensation issues in my leg and foot. I was advised to rest, elevate for 6 weeks and help it heal, and no shooting. Well that’s not going to work for me is it! When recovering in 2000 I only sat whilst it was immobilised!

So Friday evening I took myself off to the range to see how 60 arrows might feel and made the decision that I was going to shoot on Sunday. Sunday was to be a 2 part competition, the inter county Ivy Keating, I was shooting for Northants v Bedfordshire, always a good day as they are very similar in attitude to us. Sunday morning as I did my physio exercises by arm couldn’t quite hit shoulder height, well as categories use cumulative scores, even a poor score might be useful and certainly better than a DNS on the squad list so off I set with Rose who had asked if she could spend the day with me. It’s literally years, pre Covid since anyone wanted to just come with me to a shoot, she packed some school worked and refused the offer of a place to shoot.

The weather was blooming cold and much more like winter than summer! But much fun was had and though we lost overall it was definitely worth the effort.

Remember I said it was a double competition? It was also the second Bob Fricker memorial shoot and this brought more great friends from around the county to the range and added to the spirit of the day. I came away with a gold medal as the only senior compound lady, the rest were over 50 or juniors 🫣 a little embarrassing considering the dreadful score but I guess I earned it🤔🤪

Lots of pain by the end of the day but nothing new and after all it’s what all the various changes of the last several years have been about.

If you recall I set myself a deadline in spring regarding if I stay or leave the sport and I am almost halfway to deadline day, 30th September, I have some firm thoughts around my possible decision and I am certainly no longer hopeful that the against me will be resolved, it is impacting the work I do with juniors and what I am currently offering but I have worked around it to some degree with local clubs and I am thankful for their support. It remains incredibly difficult for me having it hanging there, my mental health being impacted and the irony remains that it’s safeguarding holding it there and therefore impacting me!

Anyhow that’s this week’s update, a great week, with great friends and something of a wound creating issues for my leg and another for my headspace.

Have a good week folks and I will see you soon for sure 😊❤️🏹

week 98 for Integr8archery CIC, or my personal 2nd anniversary ☕️🎂

It is mental health awareness week.

I don’t hide my issues with mental health, anxiety, panic attacks a diagnosis of PTSD, and so many different issues that are stress related from migraine, IBS to alopecia. If I had the right support earlier in my life maybe I could have found myself in a better place, we’ll never know. What I absolutely would say is talk to someone, I remember feeling so doubtful every time anyone suggested therapy, how would talking about any of it help? So I took many, many years to become open to the idea. The turning point for me was sitting at work, absolutely convinced I was having a heart attack and this was it, but it was a panic attack, scarily similar in symptoms. So almost 9 years ago I agreed to a referral and met the most amazing woman in my counsellor. She was not what I imagined and I fast learned that actually we chatted some every week, but I got a lot of homework every week, the majority of the work to mend, heal, find my methods was my work to do. Surprisingly but also absolutely made sense, because on the day to day it would be me, myself and I getting through each day. The tools to go forward were mine but I can contact here when I need to, periodically I find I need a conversation with her, may be a couple of sessions.

16th May 2022 – I was passed that stage, in such a dark and low place that I decided this was to be my last day. The people I love, care about, would find the world an easier place if I was not here to burden them. A voice from 1996 was now interwoven with a recent voice, my best friend, who had spent 7 months destroying me verbally, constantly telling me I had no place in life, in my sport, no value to anyone for anything. When someone you trust so much, who knows you so well, uses all of that to destroy you, the damage hits deeper, buries inside your mind, becomes a living nightmare.

However someone, in the universe felt a vibe that day, neither of us understand what or how, but she knew something was different that day, she and a small number of others had kept me going for those 7 months, when I woke up screaming in the night, when I was literally laying on the floor unable to breathe or when I just cried, and cried and couldn’t stop the tears. This day, it was different and the universe nudged her, and she saved me, but much like my counsellor – I did the work, she stood beside me, but I did the work. I survived that day because of her, because she heard the universe shift that day. Without a doubt the hospital played their part and I am grateful to them all.

That small band of friends and family, 9 people stronger than an army have never faltered, and I am blessed to be able to add another 8 people who have played key roles in the last 2 years, it takes a village. My village is fearless.

Here I stand 2 years to the day, stronger, changed, with the odd wobble, but ready to meet every day. Some days I am sad, I. miss the old me, but I have pieces of her that I keep safe, maybe one day she will be brave enough to face the world, but I love my village and they make sure I laugh every day. I have spent 28 years finding the sliver of positive in every day, I made myself some promises in 1996, I believe every day holds a smile and something positive, so I focus on finding those, some days are hard but I have survived them all so far 🤗

What else has happened this week? Meetings, lots of them, I love telling people that what they want is achievable.

I shot my first outdoor competition of the season, score was poor, but that was anticipated and my score made me laugh – 666 😂😈🤘 About half way through the second distance I started to enjoy myself too, bonus 🤪 and some of my village were there and my wider circle, lots of hugs too ❤️🏹

Classroom day yesterday, now to get my portfolio completed and my presentation done ready for the last classroom day in June and then the wait to see if I have passed my assessments. I can honestly say, if someone suggests a level 5 equivalent course in 4 months, think hard it’s a heavy commitment, not helped by everything else I am doing of course 😜

I hope you are all well, I hope that you are all looking after yourself, if you need anything – reach out, there are lots of people who will help 🤗

Week 96 -prioritising the right things

I think this is going to be the badge I wear for 2024.
I am going to remember it and repeat it daily because I think the fight is going to really pick up this year.

what fight? The one I stepped into in 2019, it seems like a lifetime ago, in part because the whole Covid lockdowns and the timeline disruption that brought with it, but also, because it is!

I have been involved in the world of safeguarding since I first volunteered as a 16 year old, but little did I realise how over the next 33 years it would become increasingly part of what I do, in the day job and in a variety of volunteer roles.

I see it as the most important role I have aside from being a parent, which is essentially a kind of safeguarding in its own way.

I have a number of qualifications within it and I study constantly to improve my knowledge in ways to support those who come to me. Safeguarding is a privilege as I essentially step into someone’s world when they are in their most vulnerable place. Though I also do a lot of work to help improve knowledge to prevent issues, equally important.

Within my sport I have been a club safeguarding officer in a variety of places since 2017, some I still hold, and regional safeguarding officer since 2019, sometimes being part of the safeguarding team for Archery GB at competitions.

Most issues that come to me are resolved simply, some take more work, and some of what I do is to support other safeguarding officers. I don’t get to speak about what I do due to GDPR, rightly so.

However the biggest issue I have been dealing with has been an open case for me since 2019 when I was first asked to get involved, and believe me repeated conversations, meetings and discussions with NGB, outside agencies, and athletes and coaches have seen this grow to involve so many people, and covers 14 years worth of information that I have been given.

I have a variety of opinions as to how some of the issues have happened, some is a culture where habits are taught to the next person and the next and so on, some is outright bullying. Regardless it all needs changing, acknowledgement and ownership is required to even begin to bring about change. Other sports have gone through similar and some are still going through their process, I believe that all sports have something similar, created by habits and attitudes that were once allowed that are no longer acceptable. There is no shame in holding up your hands and saying we have a problem, and we are going to make changes, shame will only come from hiding it, refusing to change it and allowing it to continue.

It might be hard, and for a while a bit rocky, change always is and this is huge, but there are so many amazing people in our sport who will work to do this given the opportunity.

For some it will be easier to try and throw dirt back, I am ready for that, it isn’t new after all, it’s been happening for 5 years already, it just may get louder and more public. There is a limit to what and how I will respond, because those who matter to me personally know me and enough about what is happening. What I will say is my day job taught me a very long time ago to evidence gather, and I keep every message across every platform and they will allow me to always know my truth and to remind myself when necessary of that truth, like they did in 21/22.

It is almost mental health week and so it is always fitting to consider my own, I have PTSD, anxiety, panic attacks and a form of acrophobia. 2022 – 16th May was almost my last day as I reached the maximum level of destruction that had been bore down on me for the previous 7 months, add to I was trying to support people who were themselves dealing with their own massive mental health issues.

It has been incredibly hard because I cannot discuss so very much of this, and that makes it harder still.

I am certainly stronger that I have been for a very long time, though I am exhausted by all of this, but I agreed to be referred to Sports Resolutions because that is the very last place I can take this, and I do have to know that I have tried every avenue in this long and weary battle but one that is so vitally important for the benefit of everyone from grassroots to elite. The last 18 months has seen me hearing from a number of people that I need to take this to the media, it’s how some sports have managed to bring about change, I have a variety of conflicting feelings about such action.

I do want to thank those who have stood by me, supporting me, those who got me through 2022 and a couple of amazing safeguarding officers who have allowed me to talk with them, for the hardest part of safeguarding is having no ability to speak of what we are carrying, they have been limited conversations but enough for me to breathe,

I am proud of everyone who has shared their experiences with me, the ones who now carry long term issues even if they have walked away from the sport that took such a huge cost, athletes and coaches. That people have felt that I have helped and who trust me enough to bring others to me is humbling and some days, most days, I wing a lot of what I do, supporting people is different for each individual and using my training, my experience and thinking outside the box has got me, and them, through a lot.

My therapist is worth her weight in gold as she has supported me through my struggles but helped me carry this too.

A few months ago, one of these amazing young people started to say things publicly, slowly, about their battles. I am immensely proud of her and I know she struggles to see herself as those of us who know her see her.

Today, on a very important anniversary of her own she has publicly released a poem that explains a little of what she has gone through, braver than me right there, I have been writing thoughts, letters, poems through my therapy for 8 years and I know how vulnerable those writings are, so to release one publicly is a truly brave step.

I asked if I could share it and I have on instagram and now I share it here, Ruby Paul you are so very much stronger than you realise and what you have put out there today will resonate and help so many not just in Archery but across other sports too 😘 it is a privilege to know you and we love you dearly.

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Who is in charge of your goals? You are! Who judges if/when you have achieved them? You do!

I have had a couple of conversations this week which have made me think of a number of other conversations that I have had over the last 6 years. So since I have mulled it over and it’s still rattling in my head I thought I would share my thoughts.

If you know me then you know I have a number of issues that impact me, in archery but actually every day in life. Pain! Lots of it dictates my mobility and range of movement but I have spent my life ignoring it, pushing it to one side as I refuse to allow it to prevent me doing things.

In part this mindset is definitely how I was raised, I grew up surrounded by people who just got on with it, simply didn’t even mention their bad days.

If I had given in to pain I would have sat down as a toddler and stayed there 🤔

I have written blogs before about how my body deteriorating means I have to change or quit:

when this was first published the response took me by surprise, when it was re-published the same happened, I know I am not the only archer who has to face change to stay in the sport we love, but it’s not easy! Certainly helps to have support, particularly as people seem very happy to share their negative thoughts with me about my right to be on the range!

I followed the re-published blog with an update:

This indoor season saw me face new change! It never ends, if I want to keep one step ahead of my body then I have to keep re-thinking how to shoot and I am blessed that my physio friend and the county captain have never given up on me, though without a doubt they both have learned over the years that I am stubborn and crazy 🤪

My entire life has been about reaching goals and always, with anything, the biggest part is – be the best that I can be, I may not know what that means or how to measure or predict it, but with everything, work, school, sport ….. I have always been prepared to dig in and work, most of my achievements have been scrappy and fought for.

So spring 2018 I completed my beginners course with the belief that I could likely get 2 years out of my broken body. I made decisions and chose 4 competitions that I would enter for my first outdoor season as I set my sights on a 3rd class – classifications were really the only thing I could convince myself to judge myself on, when you start something new and have no clue what you are capable it, where do you start with your goals?

I entered a lot more competitions than I had planned and made it onto the county squad, I earned my second class and I was so upset! I had set my goal of a 3rd so that 2nd should have been amazing, but I had put in 2 1st class scores and a bunch that were just a few points each off 1st so instead of being happy I had achieved more than my goal I was upset that I only saw that I had failed on the 1st class!

Indoors was a new challenge and I wanted to use my outdoor achievements to set my indoor goal, but I was repeatedly advised it was the same at all so I was a little unsure but aimed to do my best! 2018/19 saw me get an F.

Outdoor 2019 – another 2nd! Along with the knowledge that the pain was seeing more and more competitions leave me crying on the floor as I often couldn’t move due to pain at the end of the day!

Indoor 19/20 – E, moving in the right direction but also sitting and agreeing to data gather as the stool was really looking unavoidable.

Outdoor 2020 – 2nd class, considering the Covid restrictions I was happy to get in enough scores to get anything, particularly as I was transitioning to seated. No, it’s not the same but sat!

Indoor 20/21 – D class, and I was learning to accept the stool and an agent, neither came easily!

Outdoor 2021 – finally settled with the stool 1st!! Amazing, hard work and determination and I finally had that little piece of shiny metal in my hand!

Indoor 21/22 – D – I was happy but really starting to want that C!

Outdoor 2022 – another 1st class!

This one felt massive, I had fought my mind, the destructive voices that had been out there by someone else, telling me over 7 months that I had no place, in the sport, in any role but anywhere else either. A summer that saw me almost quit life, I am forever grateful that someone reached in and saved me, and with a few others held on whilst I let go. They also convinced me that the sport I fought constantly to be part of might actually help save me. And it’s certainly why Dunster will always hold a very special place in my heart, as I sat there with 3 important ladies watching those longbows fling sticks and calm my brain.

Indoor 22/23 – C class! Amazing, and I had barely been able to shoot as I had put dad before everything, that little piece of bling felt special, I could hear his belief in me, he never gave up on me.

outdoor 2023 – new classifications, I had been part of the working group and had to listen to so many people complain 🫣

I wasn’t really sure what I was aiming for and decided to use the new and old tables together so I could reference something I did understand! Bowman 3rd class under the new which I felt was poor but wasn’t sure why, under the old system I had dropped back to C, devastated – dropped was the right phrase since I spent most of 2023 gradually lose the feeling in my hand, dropping everything, and either numb or in agony! Again changes and what to do for the best whilst waiting for hospital appointments!

indoor 23/24 – again new classifications so the decision to use old and new – bowman 3rd class old system C class! I am happy with this and it’s helped me accept summer 2023.

I started the indoor season with a PB in the Stafford and finished it with PB in Portsmouth and earned medals along with the Portsmouth 550 badge!

Here I sit, having planned numerous outdoor competitions for 2024 and we will see what my new way of shooting brings, will I get something decent! I am again going to use both new and old systems and this year I can also play on the 50+ class which will certainly help in the high pain days but I am going to enjoy it, that is what is important, can I keep smiling! If I can I get to stay in October, if it brings more tears than smiles then this will be my last season shooting.

Let’s see what happens – I am looking forward to the challenge.

It has all reminded me of conversations that I wasn’t good enough, and what was the point of my goals, they weren’t good enough either!

Well what I do know is this, the goals you set for yourself are the ones that matter, how you feel about your achievements is what matters! If you have a coach, and they tell you that your goal – to be the very best that you can be, isn’t good enough, then I would suggest that you need a different coach 🤗

Whatever your goals for the coming summer, I wish you the best, may your arrows fly strong ❤️🏹

Thank you to those who have stood by me, and helped me with each challenge that I have faced 🥰 you are all awesome and I have never taken any of you for granted.

the best days are sharing in others’ successes

I have said for many many years that success is so much more than medals, celebratory moments in sport are about so many things. I can list many examples that I have been privileged to be a part of in the last 7 years.

Today was no different, I love my hour every month with DISC, helping deliver multiple sports and activities to amazing children and their families.

Today there was a boy who I have seen often for over a year, close to 18 months, he struggles to retain the information, communication isn’t always simple and he looses concentration, he is anxious about his mum leaving and looks for reassurance that she’s stayed. He walked in and I always allow him to show me what he can remember, today he picked up his bow and an arrow and completed the shot routine and hit a blue immediately, his mum was stunned and as I handed him a second arrow, he turned to tell her she didn’t need to watch she could chat outside the door with other adults if she wished and just got on with it. Proud? Oh yes, and in these moments, the very hardest thing is not to react, just carry on, when in fact I want to dance and hug and celebrate.

There were lots of other amazing moments, as always, children who still come to see me despite me progressing them to local clubs, for example a young man I met almost a year ago, introduced him to a club, yesterday he was at county coaching, this morning he was competing and this evening he went to his club session, but he still makes time to come and say hello, shoot a few soft arrows and some days helps me to deliver. Or the young girl who having watched her sister shooting, sat on the floor with Rose so that she could leave her walking frame to shoot.

I am proud of these children, but it makes me proud of my children and anyone who helps me deliver any kind of sessions, every person is treated as an individual and my priority, always is enjoyment and smiles. Success is different for different people.

Today I also met a young man who has long been an Archery GB member but isn’t currently shooting, despite an incredibly strong family link with our sport, because his club no longer fits his needs. After a chat, I was able to make the introductions to a club that I believe will welcome him and meet his needs and early indications are correct.

I finished the day nipping in to see some who always has hugs for me, just a quick catch up as I knew they had competed today but when I met them at the end of 2022 they were crying as they believed that their only option was to leave our sport as the disability had progressed and they had been made to believe there was no place for them here. Time, patience, laughter and tears have proven that is not the case, adaption and work and here they are, today bringing home a shiny bronze medal 🥳❤️🏹

I know what it is to be told there is no place for you, I know the damage that can do. I will fight for anyone’s right to be active and take part, always.

It has been one of the days that motivates me, shows me I can play a part. Motivation in the bank for the days when I am told to walk away and leave 🤗

6 year anniversary of my beginners course 🤔

6 years ago today I completed my beginners course!
I have spent the day thinking about what that 6 years have contained! Wondering what might have been if I hadn’t picked up a bow.

I had been volunteering my time before that as everyone else in the house were already shooting but without a doubt I would never have given so much of my time had I not become an archer. I loved the sport for what it was giving my children but I had not experienced what I would gain.

I had friends in the county but I didn’t have the bonds and some amazing friendships that grew from pulling on a county shirt and being part of the squad, supporting each other in the most amazing ways.

I certainly wouldn’t have travelled the path that led to my creating Integr8archery CIC and the projects I have now or those in the years before. It has been a privilege to work with those I have met through the projects.

There are a list of downsides too, I won’t go into those, for a variety of reasons, but again, some of those have brought fantastic people into my life.

It was all of these things whizzing around my head as I sat waiting at the hospital for my appointment today, the first of 2 appointments in 6 days – the good news is I have been given permission to continue shooting if I would like to, so crack on with learning my new routine it is then!

It’s rare I ask for anything, despite how much I give, so as I walked back into the house to mull over the conversation at the hospital I was surprised to find messages, messages which frankly I think are selfish and demanding attention when I have explained that right now, there are things happening that require my attention. Likely not helped by the fact that the wording was triggering for me, initially I was not going to reply but I do not wish to trigger anyone else’s anxiety by making them wait. The subsequent response just reinforced my initial feelings that the sender was selfish and demanding with no interest in me.

So, I emphasise – right now I will give what I can, but this is not my priority, my health and that of my children is and I may just start not replying to rude or triggering messages.

I do wish to thank those who have sent kind and/or supportive messages too, particularly in reference to helping the children look after Paul, WOAC – as expected, have been amazing – thank you 🥰

week 82 – mostly dictated by the welfare of others

without a doubt this last week has been intense for a number of reasons, the day job saw me become part of a team working in a temporary emergency setting to keep a young person safe, along side those of us working with them. We pulled it off through a great example of what a team of like minded individuals can do, not down playing the efforts of this who stayed in our usual setting to work with the Luther young people in our care, they had to manage without us.

Glad to say the week is ended well with everyone safe and well and as we are so often reminded, the aim of every shift is for us to return home safe.

Saturday was interesting as I was utterly exhausted and I am grateful that Chris and Jack managed to understand my exhausted mind when it often retrieved the wrong words mid sentence 🫣 luckily they often rhymed with the word I actually wanted so that helped 😂

Sunday I woke with the still hovering migraine so decided to withdraw from the competition but due to Paul’s ongoing health concerns I took Rose for the day, I don’t often get to be an archery mum, so it was lovely to do just that. I am so proud of her, with everything she has going on at the moment she wanted to just relax and enjoy herself. She came away with a new PB, two golds and a silver 🥰🏹

Thank you to everyone for their support and care during the day but especially to Anita who absolutely spent the day taking care of me in the very best way – filling it with as much laughter as possible 🤗😜 Great as always to catch up with everyone and thank you to Duncan for looking after raffle tickets, medal collecting and picking up forgotten items when we had to dash off to get Paul to a&e.

Huge apologies to DISC for having to cancel, I love spending time with this group they are amazing and I did miss them, look forward to dropping in soon for sure.

This week is going to be hard as we help Paul recover and Jack is proving to be great at caring for him but I am rightfully supporting them and that does mean you are going to have to be patient and bear with me. Messages will be answered as and when, if it helps to put it all into perspective I have had to take some leave from the paid job too, and for those trying to get things from Paul, Jack and Rose, with my support are keeping as many of you away as possible, he can’t concentrate on you whilst he heals – sorry but there it is.

So, hopefully the next week will see some return to normal but the hospital appointments for me, Rose and Jack continue to land on the doormat so they will take priority 🤗

See you on the range soon ❤️🏹 stay safe and well

midweek – readjustment of priorities, hours reduced but aims the same

Over the coming weeks and months the three of us are going to be attending a whole bunch of medical appointments. 

Happy to share my issues, as I already have been, particularly as it impacts my ability to shoot and the necessity for changes to allow me to continue and I know there are those who like to see what is happening. 

The issues of my children are not up for public discussion. 

They get involved with Integr8Archery CIC often and help in delivery of a variety of things.

With this in mind, the amount that we will be doing this year will reduce to allow time to concentrate on the many health related things going on. 

Existing projects and new projects and lots of exciting things will be happening but there will be some careful selection processes as we utilise our energy on less hours. 

You will see us on ranges shooting, competing, delivering and supporting but be prepared that you may some times hear a polite but firm refusal to be involved in something. 

There are also some things that are important to us as topics such as anti violence and providing alternative options, these will continue to be important to us and you will see us continue to work in these areas.

I make no apology for putting us first. 

See you all soon and I will continue to let you know what is happening with projects 🥰🏹

An old photo but one of my favourites 🥰

week 72 – measuring success can be so many things

Some time ago whilst collaborating I had a discussion about how we measure success, it’s not all about medals and bling and we have to pay particular attention to the individual, their challenges, goals and achievements. I was asked to write something for the website that was being set up to explain as it was believed that for many, it is about ranking and bling.

For me it can be many things. My PTSD creates serious anxiety and agoraphobia, daily I have to build up the strength to step over the threshold to take me outside the house. Every day! It’s one of the reasons that I like routine and structure but also to be busy.

If we go back, before the world of shopping online for everything, the longest I stayed in the house and didn’t leave was almost 10 months. Luckily my GP at the time gave me the support I needed to learn techniques to help me. There are still days though when my head is busy with overthinking and I slip and the work to get me outside is huge.

This weekend I had plans, all in my calendar, get home from work Saturday morning, off to LBAC to drop off my bow and cams and shoot a little, over to AOR to shoot a Portsmouth scored round and get everything ready for Sunday – my first indoor competition of the 23/24 season.

However an email Friday pushed all my anxiety to the front, off to work I went, but Saturday, once home I didn’t want to leave, not a surprise and so began the battle. Eventually I did leave the house and took my bow and cams to LBAC, I deliberately didn’t take my other bow so no shooting. A catch up with friends helped my mood a little but the anxiety and the delays created meant no scored round. Sunday morning? Seriously struggled to leave the house, a million excuses to stay at home, safe. However Rose was going to this competition and there would be friends there, so I accepted the offer of a lift from Paul and dragged myself there. No expectations as I had failed to do the prep this week and I am still dealing with the decision over the future of my release aid.

My PB for a Portsmouth is 548 – scored several times, so close to that next elusive Portsmouth badge of 550! I had sat down Wednesday to consider a realistic expectation and a challenging goal. So I set up at Green Dragon Bowmen with 2 scores in mind – 450 and 500.

My boss buddy was welcoming and we had a friendly session chatting about the sport and our experiences. I saw friends I expected to see, made new ones and saw some friends I hadn’t seen for a while who I hadn’t expected to see. I enjoyed the session and was incredibly happy to finish with a score of 528, had I not had a miss with a shoulder spasm I would have been close to my PB! So much better than I had hoped for.

However, the other unexpected gains from the day were conversations, about disability and adaptations or considerations that can improve their experiences. People that I didn’t know asking about Integr8Archery and the work that I do because they have seen references to me on social media, lots of positive feedback based on people’s thoughts on the projects. So by the time we left my head space was significantly improved over the last couple of days and I had some thoughts about how to improve things in regards to my release.

Top off the day with news that I had managed gold, unexpected but welcome news and a raffle prize! Perfect end to a day that starting with me almost not leaving the house 😱 The medal isn’t the measure of my day, it’s the ability I had to follow my process despite having to keep coming down during the shot routine as I repeatedly lost sensation in my fingers. Careful and controlled process got me that score. I am lucky to have friends who support me and who help me answer questions and find solutions as I continue my journey to shoot for as long as I can ❤️🏹

Busy week ahead with planning meetings and some training but I will update on those at the weekend. Take care of yourselves 🤗

There is nothing more important than safeguarding!!

In all areas of my life I think safeguarding is the most important aspect. From parenting, to residential youth worker and in sports. Some times this can be big things, often it’s little things. Some times it’s reacting to huge issues others it’s supporting wellbeing and welfare. Some times an ear and a coffee, sign posting or contacting other agencies.

It’s an area that I have been actively involved in since I started working in the public sector 30 years ago. I undertake the mandatory training and renewals but I also do other additional training, things that I believe can teach me to be better for those who need me in any of the areas of my life.

Those closest to me know the biggest piece of work here is something I have been doing for over 3 years, it’s massive and involves a lot of people, it grows almost constantly, people being pointed towards me to add context to what I have, years and years of experiences and issues told to me. Some just do that, they want nothing more than to feel someone has listened when previously they believed no one has. Others need ongoing support and the most important part of this is ensuring that there is the right professional help and I am then just part of their team of support. Mental health professionals are key but my ears are there to help. Not just those who come to me to explain their story but their families who often feel they should have seen something that they missed, and now feel guilt.

I can understand this as I carry it too, I missed what was happening to my child whilst I was busy supporting others.

There are days this is so incredibly draining and I am left emotionally and mentally exhausted and I am grateful to another safeguarding officer who sits and let’s me debrief with them, but also others who support me, they don’t need me to share details but they know I give and give to support these people, to be the person who hasn’t walked away.

Why might others have turned away? It’s hard, the massive issue needs so much work from so many people to change what’s happening. That level of energy and fight is hard to carry every day. I have considered walking away more than once, but I am struck with the fact that if I do, I am another person who has let these people down and who else will fight?

I have sought advice from the right places, agencies etc and I am at my next step, I don’t have many left and the last big step is one I hope I do not have to take because I hope that it can be dealt with without me taking that step.

Imagine as a safeguarding officer declaring yourself as vulnerable, on 3 separate occasions in 18 months, and not receiving the support or care for your well-being but yet I am expected to reassure those who have come to me that the support is there to be found?

I have repeatedly advised that my PTSD, anxiety and my ability to seriously overthink any situation means that we have to try, where we can, to manage the available opportunities for me to reach out when information is dumped on me.

Yesterday was another example of how the repeated lack of attention to this can impact me on a massive scale. A situation I am not aware of seeing a letter emailed to me at the end of business on a Friday. I opened it with no idea of what I would find as I am waiting on contact from that very team regarding my latest communication on this massive issue I am dealing with. Yet when I opened it, it hit me like a brick wall, because it was something new that sent me spinning, that required a response, but that saw me have no ability to reach out with my questions.

I sent my response, I had to, in an attempt to stop that spiralling that I have repeatedly asked for support to prevent. Had I been able to reach out and ask a couple of questions I could have dealt with it smoothly and calmly, but that was denied me. So now I wait, with just the serious overthinking to keep me company for however long this will take.

Thank you to those who have stepped in and supported me in the last 20 hours, never do I take you for granted, but I am certainly stronger because I have you here. It’s also shown me that whilst I am vulnerable I am, most definitely, stronger than October 21-October 22.

Take care of yourselves please.