Young couple with their baby sitting against a blue background

Maria and John's story: Making immense life changes

John and Maria were supported by staff at one of Centrepoint's young parent's services to overcome some unhealthy habits. They have now moved into their own independent property, expecting their second child and looking forward to Christmas as a family in their new home.

A dangerous situation

Maria and John* were referred to Centrepoint after leaving their private rental which they were renting from John’s mum. John had a history of substance use and was using cocaine heavily whilst Maria was pregnant and after she had the baby. He built up drug debt and they had to leave for safeguarding reasons.

The stress of it all caused John to try and take his own life. He was taken to hospital and they were referred to social services. It was decided that they needed to move into supported accommodation and their social worker referred them to the Centrepoint’s young parents’ service in Sunderland.

Getting back on track

“I was so scared about the bairn being taken away and so overwhelmed by the debt I was in, that the only option was to move,” John remembers.

Once they were settled in the service, the staff supported them with budgeting and parenting to help build up their confidence as new parents.

“They supported us with everything. They helped us sort all our bills out and set up direct debits to pay off my loans. They helped me to get on top of my debts and I’ve managed to clear two of them completely,” says John.

“It was hard when we first moved in. I had been taking cannabis and cocaine every day and the withdrawal was really horrendous. I went cold turkey. After a week or two, I started to feel a bit more normal. I had dropped to about 10 stone! The amount that I was taking has rotted away my nose and cartilage and my nose is still healing to this day.”

John and Maria’s key worker, Kim was able to refer John to a recovery programme which also supported him with his mental health and John has been clean for over a year.

John is overcome with emotion when he reflects on the support they received from Centrepoint.

“Ever since we moved into the young parent’s service, they’ve just been the biggest help ever," he says. "This is coming from the heart. They’ve helped us make some immense life changes. They’ve helped us to get clothes for the baby when we couldn’t afford it as well as nappies and things. They helped get me onto courses and they really helped us make the transition into independence. They even helped me get on ESA which has been a huge help. From day one, they’ve been nothing but be the biggest support ever.”

Maria echoes this sentiment, “They helped us cook healthy meals and routines with the bairn like bedtimes. He was going to bed at 9.30 and now he’s going to bed at 7.30ish. They helped us to break some of the unhelpful habits. They also really helped us with budgeting.”

Current key worker Michelle can't contain her pride when she talks about how far they have come.

“From when they first came to where they are now, they’ve been on a huge journey and they’ve both done really really well. The previous keyworker to me was Kim and she had a really good relationship with them so I think they were a bit concerned getting me as a new keyworker because they didn’t know me as well, but it’s gone really well and we’ve always been honest with John and Maria regardless of what the situation is even if it’s something that they don’t want to hear. They’ve listened and acted on any advice we’ve given him so we’re very proud of them.”

Looking to the future

John and Maria are expecting their second child and looking forward to their first Christmas in their new home. But they remember how special the staff made Christmas when they were living in services.

"I can’t even describe how the staff made Christmas special for us," says John. "Because of Covid, there were only two households there. They just did so much. They really helped us out. There’s so much to say about them , I can’t really put it into words. They did a lovely Christmas dinner and the bairn enjoyed it so much. A huge bag of presents was given to him so we didn’t have to spend much money."

We think they have made amazing progress and are excited to hear about the next step in their journey.

*names have been changed