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Meet Deb, Merivale Programmes Facilitator

Posted on March 31, 2019 by Iosis

Merivale is a six-month programme run by Iosis for women with a background of abuse, addiction, or domestic violence – and who are struggling with the challenges of parenting. It provides a safe haven for mothers as they receive counselling and attend a range of life skill, self-development and parenting classes.

Deb Hipperson works every week with the Merivale mothers, teaching them how to communicate without violence by tackling three important issues. “The first, and perhaps the greatest need, is their relationship with self; teaching them to be more compassionate with themselves.”

She says that the second thing they teach is how to communicate with partners and children. “We teach our mothers to deal with communication when a partner or kids are ‘triggered’, whether it’s in anger, pain or something else – and how to deal with that in a way that is safe.”

Lastly, Deb explains that they teach women how to express what’s important to them in a healthy way so that they’re empowered to make changes in their lives.

The programme is very practical. “We start with Karakia and have a check in to see how the week has been. There’s a lot of sharing in the session and we look at different ways to respond to various situations.”

A large part of the work Deb does involves empowering these young mothers. “Often they’re going back to partners who haven’t done the same work, so it’s over to them to respond differently. It requires great courage to be front up to people who expect you to be as you have in the past and to respond differently.”

Over the six-month period, Deb sees many changes in the women. “It’s always tough for them during orientation and many of the mums can be very staunch,” she says. “But over time, they start to relax and trust that the programme is there to help them. For many, it is the only safe place they’ve ever had to express themselves, to open up and speak with real honesty.”

The programme provides them with the space to share ‘the hard stuff’, to learn to do things in a different way and to have the courage to make changes in their lives.

“It is so rewarding to see them transform their lives over the six-month period and even more so when you hear how well they are doing when they leave Merivale.”

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