We know that homeless young women are some of society’s most vulnerable people. But imagine how much more difficult it becomes they’ve been through pregnancy and are now responsible for their new baby.
For some new mums at Centrepoint it can be an overwhelming time. Not only are they recovering from the trauma of homelessness, they’re also now responsible for a new life.
Centrepoint’s Health team ensures all young mums get the extra emotional support they need to cope with their new responsibilities. But without the support network that family and friends can provide, mums who have experienced homelessness often begin to struggle. This can have a big impact on how they care for their young children and whether they end up moving on from Centrepoint successfully.
In our Barnsley services, I saw young mums face this problem again and again. The Health team already provided practical help and advice to new mums, but it was still tough for them to cope with the physical, social, emotional and psychological changes that motherhood brings.
Monica and Hayley from our Health team in Barnsley.
New baby boxes
I wanted to work out the best way to make sure young mums weren’t alone, so I approached local businesses for their help. After explaining that Centrepoint works locally to support homeless young people and new mums, I asked for donations of small presents to put together to make baby boxes.
I was amazed by their response. Donations included everything from rattles, nappies and baby clothes to toys, bottles and storybooks. Sometimes I received so many donations that I had to keep them in my spare room at home as there was so little storage space at our services.
But it’s all been worthwhile to see the difference it’s made to young mums and their self-confidence.
These items helped make sure young mums feel that someone cared, and I started to see the difference immediately from young mums who were overwhelmed that anyone outside of Centrepoint was supporting them.
Example of a Centrepoint new baby box.
Supporting young mums into independence
Some young mums come from a background of abuse and neglect, which means they’ve often been unable to attend school – making them even more likely to experience abuse.
For young mums who are getting back on their feet after experiencing homelessness, having a baby can be a wonderful but extremely lonely time. While some have support from their partners, very few have the kind of support from family and friends that so many of us are lucky enough to have.
“Centrepoint have really helped me and the baby box was a nice touch from the staff that continue to support me,” said Clare, a Centrepoint young mum.
The boxes have even helped some young mums cope when they were stuck in hospital with their babies who still needed attention from the doctors.
“The baby box really helped me as it gave me some of the essentials, like nappies and things so I could spend more time in hospital with my baby,” said Lizzy.
And with the help of our baby boxes, hopefully we’ll be able to support even more homeless young mums into independence.