Shante's Story: Providing the best start for her daughters
Shante was referred to Centrepoint after her mum's place became overcrowded following the birth of her daughter.
She managed to move all her things into her Centrepoint flat in one day and the staff settled her in and helped her to find a cooker and a fridge
“They helped me to get those things that I didn’t have like a sofa and some appliances," Shante remembers. "It was a one bedroom flat and a good enough space for me and my daughter."
Shante emphasises that although she prides herself on her capability and independence, having the support of her key worker Jo-Ann, was crucial to her growth during that time.
“Having Jo-Ann there helped me because there was always someone to speak to and there was always someone who was accessible to me if I needed anything. I got a lot out of the key work sessions and setting action plans. We’d look at areas where I could improve and set manageable goals to work towards. Having that extra support for my daughter like resources, books, crayons, things like that was wonderful. If I was at home, I wouldn’t have had access to any of that so I'm very grateful," she enthuses.
“One of Shante’s goals was to speak up for herself and to be more assertive as she had so many ideas, but was a bit shy to voice them. She could be quite reserved and would share them quietly with me. We were a little group of maybe five families in the service and Shante would have brilliant ideas for activities which were developmentally appropriate, but didn’t always have the confidence to share them.”
However, by the time Shante left the service, she had been instrumental in planning and organising activities for the children and parents in the service and played a key role in resourcing the sessions.
Having regular online activities for the children was vital during lockdown because the parents and children were quite isolated from each other. Shante played a pivotal role in making them happen.
Every Friday, there would be an activity day with music therapy and other activities. Shante would act as an advocate for the rest of the young parents and inform Jo-Ann what they would need in terms of resources.
“Jo-Ann would put packs together and then we would all meet online on Zoom and my littlest brother would join too as he wasn’t at nursery at the time. Lockdown was challenging for the children because they weren't able to play together so it was really important that we maintained that interaction online for their social development,” she says.
During lockdown, Shante fell pregnant with her second child. She had to attend all the appointments alone due to Corona Virus restrictions.
“When I went to find out the sex of the baby. I walked there myself as the dad wasn’t able to come with me due to the restrictions so he stayed at home with our daughter,” she remembers. "I wanted to surprise him so I walked back with a balloon and put the baby picture inside and when I got back I popped it for him. It was a different experience, but it was still special. It was a lot to blow it up walking and pregnant," she laughs, "but it was a really nice surprise.”
When Shante went into labour, Jo-Ann remembers feeling sad to see her going off to have her baby on her own with nobody to support her due to the restrictions. However, she recalls being blown away by her bravery.
Shante adds, “I messaged Jo-Ann a little bit later to tell her she’d been born. She was actually born in the ambulance on the way to the hospital!”
Jo-Ann nominated Shante for the Dolores Dyer Centrepoint Inspiration Award because of her incredible parenting in the face of adversity. She says that Shante always puts her children’s needs and development above everything else.
“I nominated Shante because she had the option of staying in the community she had been in before, hoping that the council might step in and help her with housing. She chose the harder option, but the best option for her family by private renting and making sure that they could move to a more peaceful place. She is very driven and very goal oriented. She looks ahead and plans for her whole family including her little brother, ensuring their safety. She puts everyone else before herself. She is always looking for deals and bargains because she used to making sure her whole family are ok, her brothers are ok, her mum is ok. She is always helping others.”
Shante works as a postwoman for Royal Mail and whilst she is at work, the children’s dad comes over to take care of them. Every morning Shante will get them up and dressed and make breakfast and set up home activities for the children.
“Shante plans everything around her children,” says Jo-Ann, “She prioritises them above everything. The amount of effort she puts in to ensuring her children have activities to do that is helping them with their language development, it's inspiring to witness."
Shante smiles when she hears Jo-Ann say this and adds, “My daughter told me she wants to learn to read and she’s only 3 and I need to go to work every day. But to help her with this, one of the things I have done is label everything in my house so she’s starting to recognise it the letters and words.” As she says this, Shante picks up the Kindle from the floor and shows me how it’s been labelled.
It would have really helped Shante to be housed by her local council, but Shante felt it was safer to try and move area and find private rented accommodation that was close to a really good school for when her oldest starts reception. Shante and the girls are happy in their home. She has a garden and there is good space - the girls have their own room rather than them all sleeping in the same room which means they are becoming more independent.
Bursary support and future dreams
During lockdown, Shante, who is a keen baker, kept herself busy by enrolling on a baking, decorating and business course with the support of the Centrepoint Bursary who helped her with course fees and equipment. Shante would often bake cakes for group activity sessions in the service and even ran sessions where she shared her skills with the other parents.
“I use the tins, nozzles and piping bags that the bursary provided all the time and I wouldn’t be able to afford those things for the course without the help which would mean that I would be doing the course and not able to do the practice in my own time.”
Shante hopes eventually to run her own business creating personalised items for customers be that cakes, cushions or other items. She hopes that this will be something she can focus her attention on when the girls start school.
It’s clear to us that Shante is deserving of this award, but how does she feel about winning?
“I was surprised to win an award. When I found out, I was at work. Jo-Ann called me to give me the news and it was a really nice thing out of the blue. That particular day, I was feeling tired and a little low so hearing that news just made my day.”
We are very proud of Shante and wish her and her daughters all the best for the future.
If you'd like to make a donation to Centrepoint and help support young people like Shante with financial support for education, employment and training, please visit our donation page.