Theresa graduated from the University of Leeds with a 1st Class BA Hons Degree in Social Work. She currently works as a Service Manager for Wakefield Local Authority working within Adults Integrated Health and Social Care. Theresa founded the charity and is currently the Chair. Theresa is an advocate for the charity and is passionate to drive the change It’s Our Day is working towards.
Emma’s Embrace was founded in November 2018 in memory of Emma Harriet Kirk, a kind, intelligent and courageous young woman who fought for good and strived to make a difference in the world.
After losing Emma, we spoke to hundreds of young people all, without fail, told us that when they attempt to explain the reasons behind their anxieties and what it is they are struggling with, too often this falls on deaf ears and the response they get is:
“What have you got to be worried about, back in my day…”
Our response to that is: 'It's not 1980 anymore, what worked for you in your day will not work today, because the challenges and pressures a young person faced in your day are so far removed from those faced by young people in today’s modern world.
It's not your day anymore:
IT'S OUR DAY
Penny has worked in the charity sector for the last 25 years. She is knowledgeable in charity accounting and charity law and is currently the Treasurer. As a past chair and treasures of a number of boards Penny hopes that she is able to share these skills with other board members of It’s Our Day.
Emma Harriet Kirk
20 May 1998 – 27 October 2018
I want to introduce you to my daughter, Emma Harriet Kirk, in whose name this Charity was founded. No one should ever have to write about their child in the past tense. I do not have the strength to find the words to describe to you who she was, why she was so loved and why she will be forever missed, so it is my intention to share just a few stories and the words of others to give you a brief glimpse of this beautiful soul.
During her very short life Emma did a great deal to challenge oppression in all its forms and she never looked the other way. Here are a few examples:
In 2004 an appeal was set up following the Boxing Day Tsunami. My birthday is New Year’s Eve, and in the New Year Emma and I went into town on a shopping expedition with the money we had both been given for Christmas and me for my birthday. Emma had about £50. The first stop was the Yorkshire bank where I donated my money to the appeal. At 6 years old Emma was very aware of what had happened, and she asked me if she should donate the money she had. I told her it was up to her and that people had given her money to spend as she wished. At 6 years old she chose to forgo a shopping expedition for herself and gave her money to the appeal. My heart swelled with pride and I told her so. I also said, “what you have done Emma will give you a feeling much better than you could have possibly bought in any shops today”. About 3 weeks later I put my beautiful child to bed and as I was leaving her room I could tell something was on her mind. I asked her what was troubling her and she said to me: “Mummy you know when I gave my money to help people who lost everything in the tsunami, you told me I would get a feeling that I couldn't buy in any shops, when am I going to get that feeling?” After I stopped laughing, we talked and Emma recognised that she had already experienced the feeling.
At 17 Emma joined two separate aid convoys to Calais and also worked with ‘City of Sanctuary’, supporting refugees with reading and writing. Over the Christmas and New Year holiday period Emma would organise packed lunches to be distributed to the homeless and remained continuously amazed at how fast these were taken up.
At the age of 18 Emma intervened when she saw a man beating up a woman as others simply passed by. Emma was just over 5ft and weighed 7 stone. Emma screamed at the man until she interrupted his blows and as he moved away from the woman Emma took the opportunity to step in between them whilst shouting at him; “I am calling the police. You need to leave.” The man left and Emma talked to the very distressed woman about accessing a shelter. The man returned, saying he had ordered a taxi and called the woman to come to him. Again, Emma stood between them and told the man that the woman was going nowhere with him. The police arrived and the man was arrested.
In Emma’s first year at University she telephoned me one night to tell me she had a kidney infection and asked if I could come and keep her company in A&E. Emma had been there an hour already before I got there. It was a long, chaotic, cold, miserable night with lots of people coming and going. There was a young man asleep on the back seats of the waiting room clearly down on his luck. As the evening progressed another young man attempted to use the vending machine without success. He became distressed, not aggressive or loud, but quietly distressed. As I observed the situation, trying to assess if he was drunk, a middle-aged man stepped forward and helped the young man purchase some food and a drink from the machine. All the while he kept looking over at Emma. When he finished helping the young man he looked directly at Emma, Emma smiled and nodded at the man, a beaming smile broke across his face, he put his thumb up and returned Emma’s nod. I sat there witnessing this peculiar interaction and asked Emma what it was all about.
Emma told me that before I had arrived the man was giving the young homeless man on the back seat a hard time and was whipping up hysteria amongst the other people in the waiting room. He was blaming the long waiting time on those 'like' the young man on the back seat. In true Emma style, when no one else felt brave enough to speak up, this 5ft 4 beautiful soul challenged this man's thinking. She pointed out that the reason everyone was waiting was not because of the unfortunate man on the back seat, it was because of the Government cuts. She invited him to share his frustration with the Prime Minister and leave the young man alone. She invited him to realise that he had no idea what the young man's 'back story' was and prompted him to be grateful that he didn't need to take refuge in the city's A&E department for warmth. This conversation about exercising compassion instead of aggression clearly had an impact. The man walked away and came back a short time later with a chocolate cupcake, which he gave to Emma whilst apologising for his behaviour. I do hope that man still takes advantage of the opportunities to help people.
Emma was an inspiration and all who knew her could not fail to be impressed by her values and her acute sense of right and wrong. I loved and admired the depth of Emma's values, she wasn't perfect, but her values were and they never faltered.
Emma was in every way like every other young person out there, but in some ways she was exceptional. It was Emma who opened our eyes to the challenges that all young people face in this modern world and it is her inspiration that drives this Charity to seek change.
– Theresa Kirk, Founder
Below are quotes from a few of Emma’s friends:
She was a lovely girl. Polite, funny, passionate in her thoughts on politics... which we discussed a lot, fortunately we shared the same beliefs. To Emma's parents, all I can say is she was a credit to you. What a thoroughly decent human she was.
You were beautiful, you were down to earth, you were weird in the best way, and you were one of the funniest people I’ve ever met. You’re one of those people that will stay with us forever, impossible to forget. You always made me laugh, and you were so sweet.
Miss you and love you Emma. The definition of the life and soul of the party with a laugh and smile which would fill the room.
I am truly heartbroken, you were too good for this planet. You were everything this earth needed at the minute. You gave me hope on many occasions when I felt I was alone. You made me smile on more than one occasion and made me realise that it’s ok not to be ok. You were the most gorgeous, kind hearted, funny and generous person there ever was. You were a fearless feminist, an animal rights activist, a mental health advocate and a beautiful fighter all wrapped into one. Everything from our conversations to your posts on social media helped and influenced me more than you will ever now know”.
Emma, you were truly wonderful and I’ll miss you, we all will.”
Honestly I am in disbelief and shell shocked. If any of you know me you’ll know how much I love my mate Emma, we bonded a couple of years ago after I cleaned her throw-up off velvet dance floor and she soldiered on with the night out after that. We spoke often and were always there for each other whenever we needed a shoulder to cry on and were completely honest and open with each other, we shared a rather deep bond that formed rather quickly and she became a big part of my life and friendship group.
She was mental to say the least, always the life of the party and always knew how to have a good laugh and a good drink and she was always the one to be able to put a smile on your face in an instant. I saw her just the other night on Friday where she lived up to her reputation and rushed from work to come see us and have a drink on Halloween while we were dressed like idiots. She seemed so happy and we drunkenly told each other just how much we loved each other at the end of the night before leaving and it’s hard to believe that she would be gone within 24 hours of seeing her. She was so loved by everyone who knew her and honestly the best friend you could ask for and I feel so lucky to have spent as much time and spoken to her as much as I had over these past couple of years. Honestly don’t know how to deal with her loss.
Emma is one of my absolute best friends and one of the only people who truly knows me inside and out, like the back of my hand, my soul mate in a friend. For the last 10 years she is the one person who has stuck by me through my darkest moments, been by my side, listened, understood, talked me through my darkest hour. She’s also the one person who’s made me laugh uncontrollably until my stomach hurts and cry happy tears of joy from the simple things we’ve done. She never judged me, not a single thing I’ve ever done. She was just there. We had so many plans and adventures. So much to say, so much to do.
The most happy, joyful, cheery fun loving intelligent gorgeous slightly weird (but in a good way) girl you would have ever come across. My bestest friend. I don’t know how I’m going to get by without you girl, but I’ll do you the proudest I can and I’ll take you wherever I go. I love you so much Emma x
Emma was such an inspiration and amazing person to be around.
I had the honour to call Emma my friend. She was the first person at university I’d ever met, and she was the first university friend I made. From when we were moving into halls together, she popped into my room for the first time and asked if I wanted a brew….and I’m glad she did (I was terrified and would not have done the same). We had a long chat and got to know each other pretty well. She was an incredible woman with not one harmful thought in her, who always put her family and friends first.
I hold Emma’s spirit very close to my heart and I’m extremely grateful for being friends with one of the most wonderful humans I have got to know. I’m certain Emma’s Wisdom and word will follow me for the rest of my life and will help me when I need it.
PROMOTE: Together we will raise awareness of the pressures surrounding young people today, many of which no generation have had to face before.
PREVENT: Together we will work to understand the rise in poor mental health reported by young people. It is a crisis that can and should be prevented.
PRESSURE: Together we will campaign for a Government-led Primary Prevention strategy. Together we are strong. Together we will be noticed. Together our voice will be heard.
Our Trustees range from the recently graduated to the recently retired and everything in between. We come from different professional backgrounds and bring a wide variety of skills and experience to the Charity. One thing we have in common is a passion and determination to deliver positive change for young people. Please have a look at our bios to find out a bit more about us.