“When I was little, I would watch shows and saw how the ambulance service rescued people, and I wished that someone would rescue and save me. But I grew up and became an ambulance worker and I rescued myself”.
Tania Makwana, 31, from London, was subject to physical and emotional abuse from a young age. After leaving her family home at 17, Tania was homeless and had no support network around her. At 22, Tania had a son with her then-partner. When her relationship with him broke down, she struggled to maintain a stable job as a single parent. A year later, she began a new relationship and fell pregnant with her second son. Around this time, Tania started to notice controlling behaviours in her relationship.
“Domestic violence can happen to anyone – it doesn’t matter if you’re a police officer, a lawyer, or an ambulance crew member like I am now.” When her youngest son was four months old, Tania’s partner threw bleach at her. With the support of police, victim support and social services, Tania left everything she had built over 12 years behind, fled the area and was placed in a women’s refuge.
Tania and her children remained in the refuge for 20 months while the trial against her ex-partner took place. “One thing I’ve learnt is that there isn’t as much help for domestic violence survivors as you’d expect. We were moved around a few times before being placed in accommodation far from anyone we knew, where I felt depressed and isolated.”
“Thankfully, I made my way back to London. I was sitting at home one day in lockdown when the kids were at school, and I saw an advert on Instagram for The Prince’s Trust’s Get Started with the Ambulance Service programme. It felt like a sign, because I’ve always wanted to work for the ambulance service. I thought to myself, I don’t want to sit here doing nothing with my life – I need to start taking opportunities.”
Tania thrived on the programme, despite how anxious she felt about starting work as a single mum. “I was close to giving up so many times. Even just on the second day, I thought ‘I can’t do this’. But my Prince’s Trust mentor was always there to support me and tell me that we’ll cross any bridge when it comes to it.”
Upon completing the programme, Tania was told she had been successful in her interview with London Ambulance Service and was offered the position of Assistant Ambulance Practitioner in January 2021.
“Before, I struggled to get out of bed, and now I go into a busy job where I work with different people every day. The people we help look up to us, and it makes me feel that I’m not just someone that’s been abused, I’m someone that is respected for what I do. I can connect with people we help who are going through the same things I once was, like domestic violence, homelessness and poor mental health.
"I can do things I’ve always wanted to do, like save for a house and treat my kids to things. My kids are my motivation - I’m trying to make a better life for them.
“I know how hard it is when you’re in an abusive relationship, you feel you can’t live without them. The best thing you can do is take yourself out of situation, especially if you have kids. My life didn’t improve until I left, spoke to people about what was going on and leant on support around me.”
About the sponsor
We would like to say a huge thank you to Marvel for sponsoring our Rising Star Award.
In 2021 The Prince’s Trust announced a new partnership with Marvel to support the next generation of talented, creative young people who want to make a positive influence on the world.
Find out more about our partnership here.