Daria Pionko and the Christmas message

I was in Northampton over Christmas, so I missed the floods in Leeds. I was also in a place where mobile phone and internet reception was low. By the time I heard about the floods it was almost over.

Coming home though I could see the remains of it, puddles and mud over the streets. My friend, Alison, posted this photo of her mosaic studio.  21479_10153827405082152_4500203021069400234_n

People show their community love and spirit in tough times though and her post today shows the help that came from a Facebook plea.


People are good and in darkest times light can always be found, so said Albus Dumbledore and the Bible. So no matter what you believe, the message should resound for everyone.

That’s almost what the Christmas message is about. The light that came in darkness. Help in times of trouble. Love and light overcoming the world of darkness.

So that sums up Christmas week.

Floods came, disaster struck, signs of the disaster were left, a cry for help was heard and help came.

Then another story got my attention. A less publicised story only really in local news.

Daria Pionko, a Polish woman living in Leeds, was found beaten up in a car park and died in hospital.

Daria was brutally murdered while she worked in the managed red light area in Leeds. She was a prostitute, but she was also a beautiful woman who made Leeds her home.

I went to the scene of the crime on my way home last night, it was dark, but I wanted to see.

When disaster strikes images are left, but there were no flowers, no candles, no outpouring of emotion. There’s no image of Daria in the papers so we can’t put a face to the name, and apart from the police car on the street you wouldn’t even notice she was ever there.

Disaster struck, but no sign has been left and it feels crap.

It’s almost a week since Daria lost her life and I want to do something, no life should end this way. Forget that she was a prostitute, because some might find that justification or just a downside to a job she chose. Those of us in the know however, know that nobody chooses this life.

This is my plea for help.

Is anyone challenged enough to come with me on Sunday afternoon and hold a memorial service at the scene?

This is my plea for Daria.

Will anyone come and light a candle in the darkness of the red light area?

This is my plea for Daria’s family

Is anyone prepared to join me and grieve for a young woman while her family are not around to grieve for her?

If you are, email me bettyvirago@gmail.com

Like I said, I don’t have a photo of Daria, so here are photos of women who were killed this year at the hands of violent men.


Published by bettyvirago

Betty Virago is an award winning textile designer. Based in Yorkshire, England, and known for her Northern Folk dolls and the Quilts of Hope project.

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