Irish Women Survivors Support Network
Vision, Mission and Values
Our vision is for all Survivors of Irish institutional care and their families to be able to move-on, reconcile their pasts and lead more empowered, positive lives, where stigma, discrimination and disadvantage caused by their pasts, no longer casts a shadow on their lives – now and in the future.
IWSSN believes Survivors deserve committed support to enable their recovery and make progress in their lives. Through providing both practical support and advocacy, we can have a transformative effect on:
Severe poverty and inequality
Ensuring all Survivors have financial security is fundamental to securing a hopeful future.
Through offering one-to-one advice, we can help Survivors access benefits and financial support they might be eligible for. Campaigning on behalf of the Survivor community, we fight for redress and against structural inequality.
Poor mental and physical health
Healing painful mental scars and taking proactive steps to improve health, will in-turn improve quality of life.
By running health and well-being classes for Survivors, giving specialist advice and making referrals for further support, we enable Survivors to build confidence and ensure they obtain help they are entitled to.
Isolation and a feeling of disempowerment
Social networks and caring people who comprise them, can lend a helping hand when it’s needed and prevent vulnerable people from falling through the cracks.
We empower Survivors and build community in the process by bringing Survivors together to lead the direction of our work, running practical classes in a welcoming environment, and support with family tracing.
Our clients, staff and trustees came together to decide the organisation’s values. Our values are at the heart of everything we do, and drive everything, from our recruitment processes, to service delivery, to organisational approach.
You will see on all of our materials, imagery of stepping stones. For us and our clients, stepping stones are a powerful analogy of what our support and advice services hope to achieve. We aim to take Survivors on an empowering, constructive and life-changing journey, step-by-step addressing their issues, needs and concerns, and helping lead the way to a more secure, safe and hopeful place.
Like these stepping stones, our values are a personal developmental journey too, and we hope that we have the opportunity to support as many UK-based Survivors as possible overcome painful memories and scars in order to reach a point of reconciliation.
Survivors, after all that they have been through, deserve a listening ear and people who are compassionate. It’s through showing compassion that our staff, trustees and volunteers can really understand clients’ experiences, under their needs and then be able to work out a plan to address them.
After we listen to our clients, we understand their sense of justice, and try our hardest to improve their lives and living conditions by advocating on their behalf.
Proudly, we’ve been at the forefront of fighting for justice for all Survivors and have contributed to campaigns for Inquiries to be set-up and redress schemes to be put in place.
As our clients grow in confidence, we encourage all Survivors to come together as a community. Beginning as an informal support and advice network (otherwise known as the ‘Women’s Group’), we understand the power of bringing together individuals who initially felt alone and isolated, to realise their collective power and to rely on each other for companionship and support.
We make every effort to bring together and serve the UK-based Survivor community, so that no Survivor feels disconnected or alone.
While we always hope to exist to support UK-based Survivors and their families, we know we might not always exist, and in any case we aim to take each individual Survivor to a place of independence and strength.
We don’t want Survivors to be dependent on our services – although we always will be able to advise and support Survivors as long as we are around – we want to empower them, to realise their own potential and to feel they can manage, even in the most difficult of circumstances.
Everything we do builds up the confidence and self-esteem of our clients, so that they know that they can cope with whatever life throws at them – today, or tomorrow.
Our support and advice services ultimately aim to bring Survivors to a point of reconciliation with their pasts. We understand the importance of addressing mental and physical scars, in order to heal them, but we also know that everyone who bears scars, must be able to move-on to lead a more positive, happy and anxiety-free life.
We have supported many UK-based Survivors to reconcile their pasts, whether that’s through working with religious orders to organise constructive meetings to address issues, or whether it’s through referrals to counselling or other professional services.