“I stamped the word ‘safe’ on the back of the bracelet, so that if I get scared I can rub my fingers over the letters and remember that I’m safe”

I am proud of myself. Five seemingly simple words we don’t often say and they are not heard often enough in our teenagers’ world. I make no secret of my own parenting challenges around raising a teenaged girl. Constantly scrambling around for the right words of encouragement and wisdom and regularly feeling like “ you just don’t get it mum.”

While I watched these five words, along with words like ‘safe’ being engraved on the inside of bracelets, made by girls of similar ages to my own daughter, I felt certain parallels in her life to theirs. But I also know that the dynamics of their family lives are so very different to her own.

“I sometimes get anxious so be having these words close to me it reminds me that I can achieve anything”

It was several years ago that I joined a Women’s Aid organisation to photograph some of the support services for women and children who have experienced domestic abuse. Watching these courageous women and their children become empowered as they began realising their self-worth has, without doubt, shaped my approach over the years to the relationships I witness and form within the communities I photograph. By seeking out the can do’s and the shall’s gives me a connection and a visual to the hope that I want to portray in my work.

So as the legacy of that project has continued over time, it was earlier this year that Cyfannol Women’s Aid asked me to make a series of photographs to illustrate some of its incredible support groups.

The first group I attended was a girls’ summer jewellery-making workshop, where they each created a silver bangle over a few weeks. With the talent and creative support of a local silversmith and the emotional and guiding support of the group facilitator, I watched as these bangles took on their layers of meaning and ownership. Holding each girl’s story as they wove them intrinsically and intentionally into beautifully crafted silver bangles.

It was in this space that we all got lost in the art of making, owning stories and celebrating them with their chosen words to remind them not only of their friendships and self worth, but that they also each created their own legacies that day.

“ I know there are many others like me, but everyone’s journey is different and that’s why I chose these words on my bracelet”

The gentle chinking of these letters being immortalised on these silver bangles, was the affirmation and daily reminder that the wearer is safe, that she is powerful and that she is proud of herself.