On the day of the 1991 Cannon Street train crash, 2 people were killed and a further 542 passengers were injured. Ania Jeffries was one of the survivors. We spent time talking to Ania and whilst her story is not of fatality or loss, after the crash she continued to wear a mask for several years.
However, when Ania speaks of this tragedy she does not reflect on her own vulnerability, instead she recalls a moment between a father and his daughter. Throughout the train journey, the father had made many attempts to connect with his daughter, but was repeatedly ignored and disregarded. This continued until the train crashed, their carriage concertinaed and the father disappeared under the luggage racks. Although Ania is unsure of whether the father survived, she always remembers that the last moment the daughter may have had with her father was of when she was ignoring him.
Ania believes that an event should never define your life, but one thing she has taken away from her experience of the 1991 Cannon Street crash is the importance of a voice, and having that voice heard. It was from this moment of adversity that Ania’s personal and professional journeys take a different direction; as a Neurolinguistic Practitioner, her focus is on understanding the weight of language. Her dedications lie in giving a voice to men and women, helping people to understand that their voice has a value, and the power that their voice has in making a difference in this world.
In today’s society, having a voice, and having that voice heard is becoming more and more feasible. Each day we have the potential and the opportunity to make a difference with our voices, but Ania questions whether the right conversations between the right people are actually happening. Are the conversations that we are having making a difference? Do these conversations matter? Indeed there are many powerful and influential people whose voices are heard and respected, but for Ania there are many valuable voices that are drowned out and lost amongst the hustle and bustle of modern life.
Ania argues that we all have story to tell, and we should all have the ability to fulfil our potential, but many of us do not know how to go about having our voices heard. Therefore in order for those who have lost their voices, those who are strong enough must remove their masks, be visible and be heard. Ania shows this in her daily life, with the way she is so compassionate and kind-hearted, but shows this also in the dedication to her movement even throughout moments of adversity.
Ania’s mother had very recently passed away when we conducted the interview, but being true to her mission and her energetic and bubbly self, decided to go ahead. Ania did not attempt to hide her tears, nor did she refrain from talking about her mother, instead she used the opportunity to speak warmly of her mum as a strong and passionate role model. Ania focused on her mother’s influence in her life, and how she was a true role model and a symbol of positivity throughout times of tribulation.
Additionally, Ania’s father was also a very strong and influential role model. Whilst imprisoned within a concentration camp, he became ‘voiceless’; he was stripped of any identity and any meaning. Upon his emancipation from the concentration camp, he made it his life mission to give others their voices back.
Women Work came as a direct result of Ania hearing about seven people who had committed suicide in a period of eleven months, the most recent being one of her husband’s friends. The two youngest were university students who in the first six months of university, took their own lives. Women Work was founded on account of this shock. It was planned originally as a workshop aimed at improving personal confidence and encouraging people to ask for help. This turned into a hugely successful event and Ania realised that this was something very much needed within the community and indeed something that many peopled wanted to support. Ania, herself realised on her own personal journey, that once you ask for help, you take steps for recovery.
Ania understands her purpose as rooted within the tracks of her father’s footsteps. Through Women Work, Ania has said that she truly found her purpose, this being to give everyone the opportunity to not only use their voices, but to have them heard. This has informed much of her work, evident in the way that Ania feels that it is her mission to support others in their quest to find their voice. With that voice, we are able to break through the barrier that often renders us invisible, allowing each of us to fulfil our purpose. But firstly, Ania believes that in order to access our voice we all need support, and for her this originated within her family, but for many people this support is lacking.
Without this support, Ania finds that many of her mentoring clients are subject to and victims of ‘limiting beliefs’. It does not matter whether these thoughts are internal or external to the individual; they are centered within a person’s self-confidence and their self-belief. Ania believes that many people fail to recognise the damaging way that we talk to ourselves, and argues that if we were to change our notions of self, we would find ourselves less restricted. For Ania this is not only where the challenge lies, but it is also where the magic happens! It is all about starting from the individual and subsequently building a strong and committed community where each person believes in the mission.
For Ania, this support should not be limited to women. She argues that the only way to make a difference in this world is to support both men and women equally; it must be a collaborative approach. The idea of a female-only group that excludes the involvement of men is a step backwards; it does not reflect the future that Ania hopes for. Ania regards the support from her male colleagues, bosses and family members as significant drivers and supporters in her success. It would therefore be misplaced to imply that the success and progression of women, is without the intervention of men. This should not only have a professional focus, but it should also consider the personal lives of both men and women, with a specific consideration for the mental health of both men and women.
The collaboration of both men and women is a truly important aspect to Ania’s work, she believes that the only way for the next generation to succeed is for today’s society to collaborate over compete. This for Ania is essential in leaving behind a culture that breeds teamwork and partnership for her children. Ania argues that the destructive forms of competition start from within the home, where children pick up on the language used and the behaviour of their parents. In recognition of this, Ania implements her professional ethos within the home, by encouraging her children to work together in their business ventures.
As an exciting consequence of her desire to give people a voice, Ania has now teamed up with Kate Webb at Orbis Expeditions to put together an adventure for Female Entrepreneurs. This expedition will take place in Malawi, where the entrepreneurial energy is at a high. The aim of this expedition is to hit the pause button, allowing each woman to reflect upon their own lives, develop relationships, give back and learn. KWIB will be covering this exciting expedition as media partner bringing you the backstory of the participants and news about their experiences in Malawi.
Ania Jeffries ‘The Confidence Generator’, specializing in personal growth empowerment and self improvement, is an Award Winning Coach and No1 International Bestselling Author. She is also founder of Women Work an event established to motivate women to have a voice, to be heard and to be bold. Additionally Ania is a Transformational Leader working within UK Health radio.
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