Walking with Elly

Harry Ell Track Christchurch

It was on a walk up the Harry Ell track that Elly gained some insight into her journey to become safe from the violence she had experienced just a year before. On that walk, she reflected on the regeneration process of the Port Hills caused by the fires of 2016, and how quickly nature begins to recover after devastation.  Elly knew that rejuvenation process first hand.


The journey to wellbeing wasn’t a simple one to navigate for Elly. She tried to seek support but was failed on numerous occassions by lawyers and other agencies where she says she “didn’t feel like a priority. I found it really hard to find where support was. Before I worked with Aviva, I was pretty lost. I think it was my faith that got me through, otherwise I woudn’t have been here at all.” 


Despite the frustration, Elly was determined to improve her situation and she self-referred to Aviva. Elly engaged with Aviva’s Youth Services team, receiving one-on-one support tailored for her situation and needs. “When you’ve been let down by the system, it’s really hard to trust again. I didn’t expect this to work and then after a few meetings and some some suggestions from Dylan that were really helpful, I felt really hopeful. I knew what I wanted and where I wanted to go, but I didn’t know how to get there. Dylan was the first person to just listen and he was able to challenge me when I needed to be challenged. He was able to help me in ways I never knew anyone would, or could. I felt safe here.”


Thanks to that support Elly learned that what she’d experienced was not her fault and that she was not alone in her experiences, or in her journey to move past them. Isolation was a precaution Elly had taken in the past to keep herself safe, but that isolation compounded her situation and it took a while for her to come back out of her shell. Dylan fostered a relationship with Elly built on trust, and through this she began to rebuild her confidence and realize that she could rely on others. Opportunities to get out in nature during their sessions together and also to meet other young people using the Youth Service helped Elly reconnect with other people and not feel so alone. “My work with Dylan helped me realise we can’t isolate ourselves ...that we need other people in our lives” she says. Her music is another way in which she’s found healing and connection. An accomplished muscian, Elly expresses herself through song and composition, with her powerful voice sending tingles down spines at the recent Aviva Youth Celebration event, ‘Momentum’. 


Fast-foward five years and you’ll probably find Elly helping others through their own challenges because, having had the support she got from her Family Support Worker, she can see the difference it has made to her she now wants to help others make the same diffenrence in tehir lives. Elly is keen to undertake the Aviva Specialist Peer Support training in 2019, thereby using her own lived experience to support others towards a journey of hope and wellbeing.


“Up on that hill, I was quite surprised that it didn’t take long for trees to come back from something dark to something green and beautiful again. That’s what I relate to with my situation - Aviva is what has helped me to regenerate.” Now, her journey has only just begun.