My 40th birthday fundraising event will benefit two good causes

My 40th birthday is fast approaching and I wanted to do something a little different, with meaning and purpose, so this year I am having a fundraising event raising money, writes Sam Billingham.

Ambassadors for The Haven ambassadors Sam Billingham and Meghan Reece
Ambassadors for The Haven ambassadors Sam Billingham and Meghan Reece

Some will be for my own support group SODA – Survivors of Domestic Abuse – and the rest is for The Haven, Wolverhampton a charity for which I am an ambassador.

The last time I had a birthday party was when I was 21, when life was amazing.

I was a Legal Secretary, living at home, financially stable and my social life was overflowing. It was just after my 21st birthday that I met my ex and my life changed forever. This time will be very different.

Domestic abuse doesn’t stop for celebrations or birthdays, it just carries on regardless. It doesn’t give you a birthday cake, a birthday card or presents, it’s just another day, where you don’t stop stepping on those egg shells. Most days are a blur and every day feels exactly the same as the one before.

I left my abusive relationship in November 2006 and 14 years later I’m here organising my 40th birthday party with other survivors in my heart, I’m raising money and funds for others.

SODA (Survivors of Domestic Abuse) was set up in May 2009, which started off as an online support group and over the years I have dedicated my time and experience to raise domestic abuse, in the hope that victims can spot the early warning signs, sooner, rather than later.

I have travelled to Liverpool to take part in a Coercive Control Conference, I take part in many different radio interviews, I did a live TV interview with BBC Breakfast, I did a four-hour presentation in London to Student Midwives

I don’t get funding for the work that I do, which is why I’m reaching out to local businesses, companies and individuals to help me celebrate my 40th in style, whilst raising funds for those who are or who have, experienced domestic abuse.

I am looking for a support with sponsoring the event, help with promotional leaflets, donations of cakes and raffle prizes.

Gary Farmer, owner of PoshCutz in Lye is supporting my event with his Doggie Style Boys making a special appearance on the night. The Doggie Style Boys is a group of 10 guys who are doing their bit for the very worthy charity, Balls to Cancer. You can find out more about the work that they are doing by visiting their Facebook page.

The aim of the event is to not only raise awareness and funds but to also give hope to those who might be in an abusive relationship.

I want to show them that there when the time is right for them, there is life after domestic abuse and they can survive, thrive and go on to achieve anything that they want to.

Funds raised on the night will be split between The Haven Wolverhampton for those women and children in refuge who have fled domestic abuse and to SODA, for The Freedom Programme of which I am facilitator. The Freedom Programme is a powerful programme highlighting the early red warning flags of an abusive relationship, learning about healthy and unhealthy relationships as well as learning about traits and persona.

I want to keep giving back to society and being the support that I didn’t have.

Aftercare shouldn’t be an afterthought and together with SODA and the Freedom Programme, I can provide that support.

For anyone wanting to support this event, you can contact me via my website

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