‘Let me tell my story so I can help other people’ – Tayyaba’s story

Posted 20 March 2024

Tayyaba is a Gingerbread group lead, connecting and supporting single parents in north London. This Single Parents Day she shares what motivates her:

‘I started this group in 2019. I cover Camden and Islington, mainly Camden because that’s where I work. I’m a discharge coordinator at a hospital, it’s a good job but I realise I’m happiest when I’m volunteering!

I got involved with Gingerbread because I’m a survivor of domestic violence. So many things happened to me during that time, I used to suffer a lot. But when I started getting back on my feet, I said let me tell my story, so I can help other people.

When I look back to those times when I was struggling, I think it took me longer to get back on my feet, because I didn’t have any support. If someone had told me about Gingerbread at the time, if someone had  said ‘you can get out of this abusive relationship, there’s support out there’ then it might have saved me some years.

So that’s why I tell my story. Not because I want pity or sympathy, but so other people can learn something.

So that’s how I got involved. Gingerbread did my DBS check and gave me training in how to get other single parents on board. They provided me with leaflets and posters, and helped me use the Gingerbread platform. If you go on the Gingerbread website, looking for a single parents group to join, you can put in your postcode and it tells you your nearest group. Some people join more than one group, and that’s fine too.

At the beginning, we only had one or two parents.

I arranged a meeting and only one other parent turned up. But today we have about 40 parents in the group. We have a Whatsapp group, and if parents don’t want to be in that group they keep in touch with me by email.

I’m asking the council to give us a permanent space where single parents can meet up once a month. It needs to be free though! We have to keep costs low for single parents – a lot of us find it difficult if we have to get a bus to meet-ups. That’s why a lot of people like to keep in touch on WhatsApp. I think after covid we all got used to doing more online.

Sometimes we’ve been given free theatre tickets. Our group has been to see the Lion King and Frozen. And when we’re sitting there in the theatre, and I can see everyone smiling – I just love it! We’re so grateful to the organisations who have supported us like this, helped us do things we couldn’t normally afford.

I feel so happy when someone joins, and you can see that they’re happy and appreciate your work. But it’s sad too, when parents message me to say that they’re struggling with maintenance or childcare. Money is an issue for a lot of parents.  That’s why the support we give each other in our Gingerbread group is so important.

My son is 13 years old and he’s proud of me.

I’ve taken him to our group meetings, to the parks, and to the theatre so he can meet other single-parent families. That’s made a big difference to him.  If children only see families that are a mummy, a daddy and a child, they think that’s what the perfect family looks like.  But when they go to Gingerbread events they see other families with just one parent, so they see it’s normal. Children talk to each other, and they talk about what they’ve faced. It’s good that they can share how they feel if they don’t want to tell their mummy or daddy.

There are so many single parents who need support, so I want more people to know about Gingerbread.

Someone at work asked me recently, I’m a single parent but I’m working, can Gingerbread help me? I said yes of course! It doesn’t matter if you’re working or not, you can still get support from Gingerbread. You’re a single parent – that’s what matters.

I think if there’s someone out there stuck in an abusive relationship, someone who’s scared to be a single parent, if they hear my story it might help.  There are so many kinds of abuse. It can be verbal or financial, it doesn’t just have to be physical.

I’ve given my group a name – we’re called ‘I’m worth it!’  I said to myself, my group needs to have this name, because we ARE worth it!

Tayyaba’s ‘I’m worth it’ group is just one of our network of local single parent groups. Visit our community groups page to find a local group near you.

Find a local group near you