Emma James-German took over as Centre Director of Alternatives Stamford in July 2014. We asked about what brought her to Alternatives and what she would like to achieve.
Q: What is your background?
A: I worked in the prison service for approximately 8 years, first as an officer, then as a senior officer then as an HR Coordinator. It’s more of a pastoral role than you might expect: I got to know the prisoners’ lives extremely well. It can be harrowing, helping them deal with various stressful situations, and helping some of them to cope with self-harm or even suicide attempts. Some women were already pregnant when they arrived into custody and had to decide whether to opt to have a termination depending on how far along in their pregnancy they were. Many of the inmates had a tough family background and very difficult lives.
Q: What brought you to Alternatives?
A: I worked here as a volunteer from January 2014, and have learnt more and more about the work they do as time has gone on. It seemed like a natural move to join Alternatives to as I was seeking employment more locally.
Q: What would you like to achieve while you are Centre Director?
A: I’m really passionate about the education side of our work – I think it’s got the potential to turn into something amazing. I’m keen to expand this as far as we can, to outreach to as many young people as possible. I attended Stamford College’s Fresher’s Fair in September and loved talking to the students about the advice we can provide, such as contraception and sexual health advice (e.g. the C-card and Chlamydia testing).
Q: And are you involved in the advisory work?
A: I am currently training as an advisor for unplanned pregnancy. It’s a four-month course, mostly online, about 6 hours a week, plus an assignment each week. There’s also two away training days. It’s a challenging, even hard-hitting course – it can be gruelling emotionally as you work out how to tackle difficult situations. I have observed some of Alternative’s advisors at work and am in awe of their ability to listen to clients and provide options without leading them to a decision. There’s a separate course for advisors on post abortion, miscarriage and still birth, which at some point I would like to do.
Q: How can people help Alternatives help more?
A: We are lucky to have many regular donors, and have received some funding from trusts for our education work. But we’re always open to new fundraising ideas, and looking for volunteers to help with the centre or at our events. And if people know a woman of any age who is struggling with an unplanned pregnancy, or trying to come to terms with a miscarriage, abortion or still birth, then do suggest she contacts us. Our service is free, totally confidential and completely unbiased.