Marion Woods

Both Lives Matter | Marion Woods

Both Lives Matter Press Conference – Tuesday 30th May 2017 11.30am Stormont Hotel

Good morning everyone. I am delighted to have the opportunity to speak to you as part of Both Lives Matter, which LIFE NI is very pleased to be part of. I would like to use this opportunity to tell you about the work and services of LIFE Northern Ireland.

LIFE NI is part of the national registered charity LIFE Charity 2009, which operates throughout the UK. Established in 1980, to carry out the work of the charity in Northern Ireland, LIFE NI is a regional division within the national organisation. LIFE NI is non-denominational and open to people from all backgrounds and beliefs. Volunteers and supporters are drawn from all sections of the community. The purpose of LIFE NI is to uphold the value of human life from conception by promoting the well-being of women and children, young people and society.

Our services include:

a. The Pregnancy Matters service which focuses on counselling, support and practical help and is currently based in Belfast with access to other locations available on request. The team working within Pregnancy Matters links with relevant social agencies and referrers. The counselling and support services are developed for women and men and include non-directive counselling for crisis pregnancy, pregnancy loss, baby blues, post-natal depression and counselling after abortion;

b. Practical help and support – LIFE NI helps pregnant women, women with children and families in many ways. LIFE NI provides housing accommodation for homeless pregnant women or homeless women with young children, We link with relevant social agencies depending on the area of help required. We assist with aspects of family life such as sourcing a pram/cot/moses basket for a family who may not be in a financial position to afford to buy one. We provide Baby packs to maternity wards for mothers and babies in need post-birth.

c. Education – we engage with pupils at post-primary level, informing them of the scientific development of life before birth as well as discussing the topics of “Relationships” and “Abortion”;

d. Charity Shop – our charity shop “Vie” on the Lisburn Road has become fully integrated in the local community and has built up a regular customer base. We sell a range of items and we receive regular donations of re-sellable items from supporters across NI.

We want mothers and babies to flourish and we want to provide practical support which will help to make this possible. We simply do not believe that abortion helps achieve this for women. This is why LIFE NI believes that “Both Lives Matter” and why we aim to help, support and protect the life of the mother and the life of her unborn child by providing a range of services.

We are delighted that we are part of this new collaborative movement of individuals and organisations, in NI, which seeks to reframe the abortion debate, advocate for better care in crisis pregnancy and create a culture in which both lives really do matter.

One of the key areas of discussion recently has been around the devastating circumstances which some families face when they are given the news that their unborn baby has a life-limiting condition. I know that Tracy will speak more on this, however I would like to quickly share with you how LIFE NI, as a service provider, is hoping to provide help in this area. We are progressing with our exciting plans to develop a specialised pregnancy care centre in NI which will provide more specialised care and support in the traumatic circumstance when a woman is told that her unborn baby has a life-limiting condition. We are aiming to provide wrap-around care and support from the moment of diagnosis for the mother and her family. We believe that this project will enhance the pro-life message being promoted by the Both Lives Matter campaign and will continue to ensure that the lives of both women and their unborn children are paramount.

As you can imagine, our services are broad and are specific to each individual client. Some women may be seeking counselling, others information on accessing financial aid, others again may be in need of practical help such as finding a pram or a cot etc. One of our most valuable services is our housing service which ensures that homeless pregnant women or a homeless woman with a young child has a place to access and call home until she is able to find a place of her own to live. Even after using our housing service, our community support workers can continue to be of assistance to her and her child in her own home should she so wish. Often it is the years after birth which women and families are most worried about how to cope. It is this forward projection that may lead a woman to feel overwhelmed and unable to cope with the idea of bringing a baby into the world. We are a pro-life organisation in every sense, and this includes providing support during pregnancy as well as after the baby is born. LIFE NI seeks to provide as much support as a woman, her partner or family many want. All of our services are given freely and are led by the needs and wants of the woman involved.

No woman should feel pressured to make a decision because she lacks vital and necessary support. Let’s change that.