Real Life Stories
Families come to us for all sorts of reasons, often as a result of life events that are both varied and complex. Below are stories from ex-residents. All are true and present a very real picture of their situation before, during and after their stay with Save the Family.
This is the story of Stella who put up with abuse for years and nearly lost everything.
Stella came to Save The Family in January 2013 after staying at two Refuges in Liverpool and Chester.
Stella was forced to leave her home when the police were called to the house after a neighbour raised concerns. Social services were called out and gave Stella an ultimatum of leaving there and then with her children, or risk having her children removed.
“It was horrendous, I literally had to pack my bags and leave the house, all my possessions and everything.”
She has three children living with her at Save The Family, who are 11, 9 and 4 years old. All the children have been found places in the local school and are now thriving according to Stella.
“They love it, they’ve really settled in and their school attendance has really improved since we’ve been living her.”
One of the most significant forms of support Stella accessed was the Freedom Programme, a 10 week course to help victims of domestic abuse.
“This was a real eye opener for me. I was ticking everything on this list about his abusive nature, the manipulation, sexual control as well as the mental and physical abuse. He’d really undermined my confidence and I didn’t socialise outside the house at all”.
The course helped Stella talk about her relationship with others, what she had suffered and helped her see the commonalties with other women’s stories.
Stella had been left with debts as a result of the children’s father running up these debts after she left the house. Stella is receiving help from Save The Family about her financial and housing situation, as well as personal and emotional support from staff at Save The Family. Stella stated she was ready to move on and that her confidence and self-esteem was better than it ever was.
“This place has put me back together; I am a different, more confident person now. But it’s time to move on soon, I hope to be out by the end of the year.”
We also work with families that have suffered as a result of addictions and will work with health services to support people coming off addiction. The case of Catherine shows how vulnerable she had become before she came to live with Save the Family.
Catherine referred herself to Save the Family after becoming addicted to heroin. She was evicted from her home and was in a desperate situation before coming to Save The Family.
“I used to use drugs but only in a social way and it was fine. But when I met my boyfriend and he moved in, that was when it all went downhill and fast. He was an addict, and I ended up using, and before I knew what was happening, I was hooked. It completely change my life…I’d got myself in a mess.”
Catherine has two children living with her at Save the Family, aged seven and nine. It was Catherine’s father who suggested to Catherine that she should contact Save the Family. Catherine said she came to have a look around the place and talked to people about the support she could access and she knew this was the right decision.
“It was a no brainer, it looked and seemed amazing.”
Since moving in to Save the Family, Catherine has come off heroin successfully and has made significant improvements to her health and well-being.
“When I came here I was really thin and felt vulnerable. I was always looking for answers. Now I feel healthy and much better about myself, able to cope.”
The support Catherine received included considerable personal support from key workers to help build her self confidence and self esteem; get her children into a Welsh speaking school help with accessing benefits, and help her with her emotional and physical well-being.
“The support I’ve received has helped me focus on changing my life around. I’m a completely different person now. I’m ready to deal with things now. I came here shattered and now I’m ready to move on.”
Catherine is now drawing up a Moving On Plan that staff develop to agree her next steps and safe transition back home.
We work hard with each of our families to make sure that all their needs are addressed. The case of Jayne and her three children demonstrates the benefits of supporting the whole family, particularly when there is a range of complex needs.
Jayne has 3 children and has been living with Save The Family for 14 months. Her youngest daughter has a sever and rare disability and needs a lot of support. Jayne herself has a severe disability which means she is constantly in pain and in need of support herself.
She got into problems with rent arrears and had a disagreement with her local housing association which resulted in her being evicted. Jayne also suffers from mental health problems and in her words has “had a very difficult life, I’ve suffered lots of abuse of all kinds.”
Jayne was extremely vulnerable when she first came to Save The Family and initially kept herself to herself for the first few months. However, she now feels much for confident in herself and sees a change and resilience in her children that was not there before.
“My daughter is so much happier now. They have got her into a Special Needs school and this has made all the difference.”
Save The Family has helped her daughter access mental health support and has also adapted the family’s living accommodation to enable them to live independently.
“No matter what we need, they have provided solutions for. It’s been fantastic.”
Her son, before coming to Save The Family, was “always naughty, always abusive and we would fight all the time. Now he is happier and I think it’s because he knows I am happier in myself. There is less stress around.”
Her son is now participating in a Duke of Edinburgh award which Save The Family organised and according to Jayne, “this has been the making of him.”
Save The Family has also supported Jayne in accessing community learning and she recently completed an NVQ Level 1 in Drug Awareness. She reported having gained a real sense of achievement from doing this.
“I loved doing it, it’s really made a difference to my self-esteem and now I just want to do more”
“This place has given me back my life. I can move on now with greater confidence thanks to all the support. They deserve an award working here; they have been nothing but absolutely fantastic.”
We also provide outreach support for people who continue to need us after they have settled back into community. This is an essential part of the successful rehabilitation of families. Sharon’s case shows how we are able to support families even when they are back in the community again.
Sharon stayed at Save The Family last year from January to April after a relationship breakdown and becoming homeless.
“I was desperate, I had three children and my Mum was really poorly at the time and I had nowhere to go”.
She felt vulnerable and needed somewhere to stay, some advice and emotional support to help get her through a difficult period in her life.
“When I arrived my confidence was very low and I needed someone to talk to and help with keeping my kids safe and happy. I felt like I was letting them down.”
Sharon received support in getting housing, accessing the correct benefits and registering with a local GP service.
“They did everything for me, it was amazing to be able to hand it all over to someone. At the time I couldn’t have done that.”
Sharon soon got her confidence and self-esteem back and was ready to move on. Save The family helped her set up her home when leaving Plas Bellin.
“They helped me move, helped me get the water on and get a TV licence. They also gave me some furniture and curtains. They did the sort of thing your family would do if they could.”
Sharon has settled back into the community and is coping well. She was still in contact with staff at Save The Family and tended to call them for any help she needed.
“I spoke to them recently about some child care issues I had and they still help. It’s been wonderful.”
When Madeline arrived on site with her mother Kathryn, she was three months old. For the first three months of her life she had lived with a foster carer and had never spent longer than one night with Kathryn. She had been taken into care almost immediately after she was born.
Madeline was the ninth child that Kathryn had given birth to; all of the previous eight children had been removed from Kathryn’s care because of her poor parenting. Kathryn had several relationships but the most recent was with a man who abused her. But because Kathryn loved him, she put up with it and put him before her children, allowing them to witness their parent’s violent relationship and Kathryn’s increasing journey into depression. Kathryn’s confidence and self-esteem was low and she neglected the wellbeing and safeguarding of her children, to a point that they were removed from her and placed, firstly, in foster care and, later, adopted.
Kathryn’s oldest child was 12 years old and Kathryn was 36 when she found she was expecting her ninth child. Social care eventually decided to give Kathryn one last chance to prove that she could be a good mother. Her lifestyle had changed significantly and she came to live at Save the Family’s site. Kathryn really wanted to prove she could be a good mother but because she had “failed her other children”, as she put it, she wanted help.
Madeline was a beautiful baby but Kathryn felt as though she wasn’t settling and the social worker was concerned about their level of attachment. So, with an agreed support plan in place, Kathryn embarked on an 11 month learning curve. It was a rocky road, but Kathryn was receptive to advice and engaged with us every day. We explored routines: singing and talking to your baby; baby massage; stimulating play; messy play; feeding,weaning and healthy eating; and we talked about Kathryn being the primary educator in her baby’s life. We showed her how the Early Years Foundation Stage worked and helped discover ways to enhance her daughter’s development.
Madeline and Kathryn grew closer and closer. Madeline was growing into a confident and lively toddler who was dressed beautifully, ate a healthy balanced diet, attended all appointments and obviously loved her mother, who also adored her in return. The two laughed and learned together and were eventually ready to re-join their community.
We still hear from them regularly and things are still positive. Kathryn and Madeline are now visiting nurseries in the area as Kathryn has been offered a part-time job. Kathryn has given Madeline the very best start in life and believes that her time at Cotton Hall Farm has made the difference and helped her turn her life around.
*names and identities have been changed to protect families’ privacy.