HUNTER residents whose lives have been changed by crime, sudden death and tragedy will come together in the lead up to Christmas.
Victims of Crime Assistance League (VOCAL) chief executive officer, Robyn Cotterell-Jones said the organisation would host its 12th annual Tree of Angels ceremony at St John's Anglican Church, Cooks Hill, on Friday.
“People who have been impacted by domestic violence, sexual assault or violent crime, they feel life has absolutely changed and Christmas can be a very hard time,’’ Ms Cotterell-Jones said.
“The shops are playing Deck The Halls, everyone is about joy, joy, joy.
“But they feel ‘How can people even be smiling?’
“Everyone else moves on, but they feel the same.
“They may also feel being happy is being disloyal to the victim.’’
Ms Cotterell-Jones described the ceremony as a “warm and gentle coming together” of people who understood the ways life could change.
She said past attendees had experienced a range of traumatic events, from surviving domestic violence, to losing a child to sudden infant death syndrome, to having a friend killed in a car crash.
“It’s about loss of life, as well as life as we know it.’’
Faye and Mark Leveson will speak at the ceremony about their son Matthew, who was murdered eight years ago.
An honour roll will be read and attendees will be invited to place an angel on the tree.
The mother of 14 year-old murder victim, Tim, made the winged figure at the top.
The branches represent the supportive arms of VOCAL.
“After tragedy, no-one is supposed to talk about it, you’re supposed to get over it and move on,’’ Ms Cotterell-Jones said.
“This provides a feeling of unity, of ‘Gosh, there are people around who get it’.
“It is okay to be there and honour and remember a loved one.’’
Attendees can bring an angel or purchase one for $5.
The ceremony will be followed by a light supper for $10.
The tree will be moved afterwards to the VOCAL office in Newcastle.
Details: 6.30pm for 7pm start, November 27.