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Angela - Interview 11

Age at interview: 44
Brief Outline: Angela lost a cousin and a friend during 2008. Her cousin was killed with a machete and her friend was stabbed. These deaths have been very painful for Angela. Her faith in God has helped her. She gains strength by working for Mothers against Violence.
Background: Angela is a Community Development Worker. She is single and has 3 children.

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In January 2008 Angela’s cousin was killed. Her cousin lived in Jamaica. A man attacked her cousin with a machete. The case has not yet come to court. Angela was shocked and devastated. She finds it very painful to think about the way her cousin died. Angela was very sad that she could not attend the funeral.
 
Later in 2008 Angela also lost a good friend due to a traumatic death. Before her death her friend had campaigned against violence and against gun crime. She was a wonderful, warm, open, honest person. Sadly she was stabbed by her grandson, who had a mental health problem. Angela felt distraught when she heard about another violent death. She went to see her friend in the funeral parlour, but regretted that decision. She attended the funeral. The church was packed and the surrounding streets were full of mourners too.
 
Angela has kept going mainly due to her strong faith in God. She also has good friends and she enjoys her work with Mothers against Violence.
 
Angela was interviewed in November 2008.
 
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Angela had recently lost a cousin and a friend through homicide. These two deaths devastated her....

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Yes it was in January of this year. I’m not sure exactly what happened but as I’ve been told her boyfriend had attacked her [Angela’s cousin] with a machete and she was found, because she was found because at that time she was looking after a little girl, and the little girl was in the house crying and the neighbours noticed that this girl had been crying for a number of hours, if not even a day or so, and they went to investigate and they found my cousin on the on the floor, with a massive head injury, the coroner said had she received help a lot earlier, she would’ve survived, but she basically bled to death leaving three children, the youngest of whom is 15. Well it’s still traumatic.
 
You said somebody else, a friend of yours died?
 
A friend of mine,
 
Was that in this country?
 
Yes, a friend of mine that I’d met about five and a half years ago now, six years ago, I met this woman. She had lost her son, which, who had been murdered, and because of the nature of the work that we do she was a keen, anti-gun and anti-violence campaigner and that’s how we met. And she had such a warming personality that I don’t think I’ve come across anybody that has or will say something negative about this individual.
 
And I was at work, in June, and I received a call from a friend, and I couldn’t even understand what my friend was saying, she was so distraught. So that, immediately kind of like you know panicked me a little bit, and like, “What, what, what, what, what.” She couldn’t get her words out so I decided to wait until she could, so instead of saying “What, what, what”, because it just didn’t make any sense, I waited and after a while she just said that our friend had been murdered.
 
What a terrible shock.
 
She’d been found stabbed and she had been murdered by her grandson.
 
Her grandson?
 
And it just didn’t ring, it just didn’t ring true, I don’t know. And I was in this little office at work because I take my private calls somewhere else, and before I could even realise it I was just wailing.
 
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Angela's strong faith in God helped her to put life and death into perspective. Her belief that...

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I know, I think if anything I have, I have a strong faith, I believe in God and that helps me tremendously.
 
Would you mind saying a bit more about that?
 
My faith in God?
 
And how it helps you?
 
It helps me because I think that it puts life and death into perspective when you look at it biblically. You know we know that we’re not going to be for ever, and we know that we are born with a purpose, everybody is, and , I have to put that and I think of the joy, when I think of the joy or the work that an individual has done in their lifetime, then their death, how tragic it can be, it may seem meaningless but there is a reason for it and I some times sit down and think “Why, what’s the reason, God?” Do you know what I mean, “What possibly is the reason for leaving three children on their own and that?” There is a purpose you know and we’re in a, we’re in a world where people do all acts of wickedness and evil and murder and rape and all these things you know? And it just reminds you that you never know what the day brings, our time is precious. You know we’re not promised tomorrow by anybody, no-one promises us tomorrow, though we make plans and we’ll say, next week, next Wednesday, every-one does it, we’re not promised that. So but why are we expecting it, you know so I think sometimes we have to know, my relationship with God helps me stay focused on what matters.
 

So how has all this had an impact on your life this year?

 
I’ll be glad when this year’s over, because I think this year, 2008 has been, has been a hard year, it has and I think, I think if I’m being honest… I think I’ve put up some barriers. You know and, I’m okay with that as well. Because I think I have to, I’m a mother of three children that I’m the only parent, and I can’t really crumble. I can’t really let what happened you know, I can’t crumble, there’s no, there’s no alternative, and that’s why I draw deeper on my faith because God’s got to see me through this process, he’s the only one, friends mean well, but they’re not there 24 hours a day, they can’t be. So you know you’re left to yourself aren’t you in the way that you interpret things around you, and I think some things I have to block myself off from, in order just to keep going, not to say I’m desensitized about it, I am, I have emotions but I just think I have to have that little barrier.
 
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Angela said that if she hadn't worked hard for Mothers Against Violence she wouldn't be happy....

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Do you want to say anything about Mothers against Violence?
 
I’d just like to say we’ve spent nine and a half years learning a lot, learning a lot around violence, a lot around individuals, grief, pain, but in all that learning we’re a strong group, and we’re committed to making sure things change on all levels, and that’s it really.
 
So how are you working for change? With the Home Office, in one way? And you have rallies as well don’t you?
 
We have peace marches, yes, don’t have rallies.
 
Alright, peace marches?
 
Oh we march around the city, we had one in Redcar with [a friend], and we just grow, we do programmes with young people. We support families, we work with the police, we work with education, we’re just expanding where we need to be as an organisation around the issue. We encourage young people and I personally believe in empowerment, it means I have to give up my power over children, which I’m totally happy to do because you know, and give that to young people for them to take over. And I think, doing that and seeing young people coming on board with our aims and objectives, and really taking it on board for me is like, “Hey that’s fantastic.” You know I never question why I do it, I sometimes question, “Am I mad?” In terms of my tiredness when I’m running around but I couldn’t do anything else, I think if I didn’t do Mothers against Violence I wonder where I’d be actually, I know I wouldn’t be happy, you know, trying to make a difference, yes, it’s the right thing for me, I believe this is the purpose that God had for me, you know if you had said that to me nine and a half years ago, I’d be like, “Yeah.” What ever, because I wasn’t even a Christian then, do you know?
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