A Helping Hand
I was 14 and living in Lincolnshire when my parents separated. Soon after that, my mum, my younger sister and I moved down to Devon to start a new life; I was just starting my GCSE’s. Mum has always been quick to make big changes in life and has suffered with depression for years, that, along with the fact that my younger sister is autistic, has meant that things can get really complicated and demanding at times.
Just as I was beginning to settle in Devon and make a new life for myself, mum decided to move us to the Bedfordshire and Northamptonshire border in order to be nearer my older sister and her family. This was a difficult move and I was scared to leave behind the life I had made for myself in Devon, however it seemed best to be nearer family and my Dad who is all the way up in Lincoln. I had to start the whole process again, new friends, new school, A levels!
It was a really difficult time for us, my mums depression got worst and it started to impact my life really dramatically, we argued a lot and home felt more and more like a place I didn’t want to be so I spent lots of time with friends from school and my boyfriend whenever I could. When my mum lost her driving license it felt like the final straw as friends and school were half an hour away and so I struggled to find ways of getting to and from school. Even going to town with my friends was impossible since we were out in the middle of nowhere. At this time I felt nervous, and constantly isolated from people I cared about.
Mum was really struggling to prove adequate care and support for both my sister and I, this became worse when my sister moved back home after being in temporary care as she wanted to be with my mum, however she was much more hormonal and her tantrums were a whole lot worse, meaning studying was near impossible and I found myself wanting to escape the house all the time. My mum was in a terrible place and I felt both angry and sorry for her at the same time, as I couldn’t do anything to help. I asked to move in with my older sister but she was already living in a small bungalow with her husband and 3 children so that meant sleeping in the lounge with nowhere to call my own, no space to escape to and no where to study.
My school life was really beginning to suffer, I was often late for school which meant teachers put pressure on me as I had to wait for lifts from my sister as taxis were just to expensive. I was really worried that I’d end up failing my A levels. It got so bad that my boyfriend suggested I go speak to Student Support at school. I was so glad I did as they made a call to the YMCA Bedfordshire who came out to school to see me and suggested we looked at talking to my Mum and older Sister about moving into a host family near school through the Supported Lodgings Scheme.
I moved in with Kevin and Julie in January 2015 and even though I was nervous about the unknown, I also felt at that point nothing could be worst than having to move back home with Mum and my autistic sister.
7 months on and I could not be in a better position, my grades picked up, I’ve sat all my A levels and been accepted to go to University to study Dietetics. I’m so grateful to Julie, Kevin and the Supported Lodgings team who really stepped into my life at a time when I really needed support. I feel so prepared for Uni life now as the last 7 months have helped me grow in my independence and budgeting skills. I feel that I have learnt so much by doing this scheme and it is so refreshing to live with Kevin and Julie, and they are always there for me and seem to know what to do in difficult situations. I also think that being away from mum and my little sister and having time to focus on me and my own life has really saved our relationship, I respect mum so much more now and have more patience for what she’s going through. I remember at one point I was so convinced that I wouldn’t want mum in my life in the future, however now everything has changed.
So here I am about to head to Cardiff and start a new chapter in my life; I’m so grateful for the support I’ve had even though it’s been for a brief time. Living in supported lodgings has been so much better than I would have anticipated and I could not have been luckier. It really has been the best transition I could have asked for.