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"I have a little boy now who is pretty amazing which must mean I’m pretty amazing."

Sofia was brought to UK from Portugal by her Godmother when she was 5-years-old following neglect and violence at home.

When the relationship with her Godmother also broke down when she was a teenager, social services referred Sofia to Centrepoint and she has been living within hostels on and off ever since. She is currently living in a Centrepoint service for young parents and is studying to be a Montessori teacher with the help of Centrepoint’s bursary scheme.

Sofia's Story

Sofia has been living at a Centrepoint service for young parents for the past year.

“I've had lots of support with parenting and I never felt judged. The staff are there to support us not judge our parenting. If I ever have any questions they are always there to help and offer advice with routines. For example, when I didn’t have a buggy, my keyworker Naima would come shopping with me to help me carry things.”

Being in a young parent’s service also helped Sofia to develop some positive lasting relationships. “One of the mums that lived here with me is now my best friend and our children are so close. That really makes a difference when you don’t have family around,” she says.

Sofia with her son Elias

Support

With Centrepoint’s and social services’ support, Sofia has had many opportunities to learn and get involved in activities. She has completed a horse care course, an internship at the Foundling museum and is currently doing a course in Montessori education.

“When a young person doesn’t really have an idea of what they want to do, the staff will make suggestions related to your interests. They will go out of their way to give you opportunities and build you up. They do so much more than just provide accommodation,” she says.

“My keyworker is so nice. She always supports me and is really understanding. She always asks me if I need anything. Not physical things, but if I need help with stuff. For example, she’s helped me apply for child benefit. She’s also supported me with ongoing issues I’ve had with the Home Office. She’s always really positive and that keeps me positive. I’ve felt like I can talk to all my keyworkers at Centrepoint."

The bursary scheme

“Centrepoint and the bursary scheme have helped me in so many ways. They’ve paid for me to do this Montessori course and they paid for a laptop so I can do my coursework around my son. It’s just beyond my expectations how much Centrepoint have helped me. I don’t like asking for things in general, but they don’t grill you. They trust in you and I’m eternally grateful that they believed in me,” Sofia says.

“Doing this course has stopped me getting into a rut. If I had just gone into a part-time low-skilled job, it would not equip me for the future, but this course does. It’s allowed me to learn something in an area I’m really interested in. I really believe in their philosophy. It’s so child-centred and my parenting is very much like that. I don’t want to baby my baby. It’s really hard work – there is a lot of coursework, but they are really flexible with me and understand my situation so I feel it is all manageable.”

“I have a little boy now who is pretty amazing which must mean I’m pretty amazing. It’s been good to get away from the people in my life who’ve made me feel the opposite.”

Sofia is soon turning 25 and is looking forward to living in a place of her own with her son and working as a Montessori teacher. She also hopes to set up a peer mentoring scheme in the future. “As a care leaver I’d really like to set something up where former care-leavers can support and give advice and guidance to recent care leavers. I think that could be really helpful for young people who are about to or have recently left care.”

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