ARE YOU HOMELESS, SOFA SURFING OR AT RISK?

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"My keyworker goes above and beyond and has helped me to grow as a parent.”

When Ebby became pregnant at 17, she was unable to continue living with her mum. She sofa-surfed with extended family members until eventually she was referred to a hostel for young parents. However, she struggled at first living on her own and started to build up rent arrears.

Last year, she was assigned a floating support worker from Centrepoint who helped her turn things around. Her son is now thriving and Ebby is feeling positive about the future.

Ebby's Story

Ebby moved into her sister-in-law’s when she became pregnant, but it was extremely crowded.

“It was my first pregnancy and it was good to be around someone who was experienced, but in terms of comfort, it was difficult. She has four kids and only two bedrooms, so I was sleeping on the couch. Towards the end of my pregnancy it was really uncomfortable and overcrowded. It was overwhelming,” she remembers.

Feeling anxious about becoming a mum with no space of her own, it was a challenging time for Ebby.

“I didn’t feel ready for it. I was young and I was in school. I was very sick during my pregnancy so I would often miss college and get behind with my work, so I wasn’t able to complete my second year.”

Ebby was moved into a hostel for young parents, and while she was happy to have her own space, she had no experience of living alone. She started to get behind with her rent and began to disengage and lose trust with the professionals working with her.

“I became vulnerable, helpless and extremely overwhelmed by all the changes that I was going through in my life,” she recalls.

Support from Keith

Things changed last September when Keith, a support worker from Centrepoint, started to work with her.

“He has been nothing short of an amazing professional who has been firm but completely fair. He has helped me build my capabilities through the consistent structures we worked through. He has held me accountable in the places I needed to take responsibility and through that, I have grown as a parent.”

Ebby’s describes her relationship with Keith as being the key to her turning things around.

“Keith’s helped me look for work, ensured that I’m on top of my rent and helped with parenting and finding a nursery for my son. He’s always trying to help me move forwards rather than taking steps backwards. He’s had such a positive impact on me, my child and my life in general."

“Some people just do their job – the basics. Keith does more than that. Sometimes I don’t feel motivated and he motivates me to do better. He’s always looking out for and making sure I don’t get too low. He goes above and beyond.”

Lockdown

During the pandemic, Ebby (along with many young parents in the service) struggled to make ends meet and Keith was able to organise donations from the local supermarket which made things easier.

It was challenging being in lockdown with a small child – her son was no longer going to nursery and Ebby didn’t have any work. It could feel really isolating, but having Keith around during that time made a real difference to how she was feeling.

 “It was a big change trying to keep my son entertained all day. When he’s at home constantly he eats a lot and that costs more money. It was difficult, but at least I had Keith”

Looking forwards

Since having Keith as her keyworker, Ebby is starting to feel more confident about the future. She has just been giving the keys to her own flat; her son is starting nursery in September and she will be starting a college course in social work – a choice she says, that was inspired by having Keith as her support worker.

“I had always wanted to go into sport. I never thought I would go into something like social work, but Keith has honestly inspired me. The way he helps people – I want to do the same thing. I love children as well so if possible, I’d like to work with kids and young people. It’s inspiring to see Keith and the impact he has on the young people he works with.”

Keith says of Ebby: “She’s actually empowered herself - with my support, but mainly on her own. She’s made some really good steps. So much so that I’ve put her forward for move on to independent accommodation. She wasn’t ready last year, but she’s been engaging really well now and has being proactive about asking questions and getting support. I’m so happy that Ebby is moving into her own place with her son.”

Advice to others

Ebby has done really well to come so far and has some words of wisdom for other young people in similar situations.

“Life is hard. We have good moments and bad moments. At times we take a step back, but just make sure when you see yourself moving backwards that you try to do something about it. Accept the help that is available to you.

“I just want to say thank you to Centrepoint and thanks to Keith for the support I’ve been given. I look forward to progressing and doing better in life.”

We wish Ebby all the best for the future.

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