"From the age of five to nine my life was like my own horror story really."
Growing up was difficult for Zinnia. Social workers were always trying to put her and her sisters into care, but every time they got close Zinnia’s family would move. At one point the family were living in a tent.
Aged five, Zinnia’s mum kicked her and her dad out. Zinnia lived with him but would only see him at night after he’d been to the pub. She would hide in her room to try and escape the abuse he inflicted on her.
When Zinnia turned nine she was placed into foster care. Zinnia then started attending school even though she had never been before and couldn’t read or write. She struggled with bullies but enjoyed Art classes.
Dreaming of a better life
Growing up Zinnia dreamed of becoming a mum and having a normal life. She fell pregnant at 16. Throughout her pregnancy she fought to be able to keep her baby.
When her daughter was born, Zinnia suffered with post-natal depression and couldn’t cope. She felt like everyone was on her back and no one was helping or supporting her. Wanting a better life for her daughter she agreed to adoption.
It was hard to make the decision but Zinnia knew it was the best thing for her daughter. While social services looked for the right adoptive parents, Zinnia’s daughter lived in her foster home. But Zinnia wasn’t allowed any contact with her.
“I could hear my daughter crying but I wasn’t allowed to see to her. When she got put with a different foster carer, my foster parents kicked me out," says Zinnia.
"I did fight for my daughter in order to get her back. I wasn’t allowed to see her for three months, but once I started to have contact she was six months old and didn’t remember me. Court proceedings lasted almost a year but they decided that my daughter should be adopted.”
After Zinnia’s daughter was adopted she locked herself away for nine months. Not wanting to see anyone she moved around a lot – first living with her ex, then his mum, then sofa surfing.
Coming to Centrepoint
After a while she managed to get her own flat from the council. At this time Zinnia also came to Centrepoint, where we gave her emotional support for her mental health.
“The first time I met my keyworker, Emma, I was really nervous. But she was very bubbly and cheerful and made me feel more comfortable," Zinnia recalls.
"She made sure I was paying all my bills and keeping on track. She helped me with debt arrears, setting up payment plans. If I had an appointment at the doctors and I didn’t want to go by myself, she would go with me. There were tough times where I would avoid her, or push her away, but she was the only person that didn’t give up. I’ve managed to build up trust with Emma, which is a big achievement.”
Today Zinnia is thriving in her new flat. She receives yearly updates about her daughter and has landed her dream job as a painter and decorator. Her dream is to one day own her own home so that her daughter will be proud of her.
“I’ve had such a rough life, but it has made me a stronger person. I’ve had more positive experiences recently."
"My goal is to finish my apprenticeship and own my own home. Everything I am doing now is to make my daughter proud of me and to show other young people that no matter what has been thrown at you there is always hope. Believe in yourself and you will achieve your dreams."