By Alice Smith, January 2021

This film was shot in 2016 just after the repossession of my house. I was feeling really ill with PTSD and had tried to write a gratitude journal but could only think of 2 things: 1. Still breathing. 2. Not dead. That's why I say ‘I need a number 3 for this caged bird.’ It would be a year before I recovered enough for a third thing to be grateful for. Now I can list a thousand beautiful things. Now I can write a recovery programme called 361 that I call ‘a gift from survivor to survivor.’ After all, who knows survivors betters than survivors?

In the picture, these are my hands placing a butterfly on the ashes of my life in the garden of my family home just before repossession in 2015.

361 Life Support was born before COVID in that hallowed time we now remember with a rosy view. Unless we are survivors. Survivors have a different timeline. When abuse stops, if we are still breathing and still living then our life starts from that point of escape. If...

361 Life Support has its name because it aims to temporarily help survivors to live and to breathe. Just like real life support. We ask - victim, survivor, what lies beyond? We focus our energies, our time and our hearts on seeing beyond our circumstances and we encourage survivors to do the same. Our ultimate goal is to lose our ‘victim’ story - but carry the lessons we have learnt to build a legacy for future generations. We believe in emotional evolution - for ourselves and for society as a whole. To see beyond. Was this ever needed more than now?

With NSUN funding, we launched our 361 Recovery programme for women in September 2020 and - just to challenge ourselves - we also ran our 361 Pages and 361 Sober programmes. We also produced lots of free content - 3 full series of the 361 Recovery podcast - from lockdown mental health tips to information on gas lighting to sobriety. Go hard or go home? Well, in troubled times we have to step up and proceed as if we are needed. All of us. So that’s what we did.

Photo of Alice smiling and holding up a glass star shaped trophy from the Marsh Awards

In December 2020, 361 Life Support won the MARSH award (in association with MIND) for Innovative Peer Support. On a personal note, I felt that after 7 years I had finally completed my journey to reconnect to society. As survivors, we face stigma, homelessness, divorce, an intolerant justice system, unsafe rental accommodation, addictions and mental health issues. I’ve certainly faced all of these and I know many of you reading this have too. My message to you is - there is no quick fix to recovery but recovery and reconnection IS possible. Victim or survivor? Why are we only giving ourselves two choices? Let’s look beyond. Let’s learn how to reconnect and enlighten society as new people. Because that’s what we are. This is how great loss shapes us.

A purple journal that says "351 I Live. I Breathe". It is resting on a brown blanket.

361 Recovery programme for women survivors begins 21st January and runs for 12 weeks 6 - 8pm Thursday evenings on zoom. Places are free. Sign up at 361lifesupport.co.uk where you can also listen to free content with the 361 Recovery podcast. All participants receive a free journal and of course, I could not resist this cover to remind myself that recovery from anything IS possible. Join us and let’s look beyond.