FLAGSHIP: Sofa surfing to motherhood supported by TLA

IT’S hard to imagine a more different set of circumstances.

A year ago, Lucy was sofa surfing at the mercy of friends and strangers, some of whom were violent and unstable themselves. Today the 18-year-old is a confident and protective mother to a healthy eight month old son with a life plan featuring education, work and home ownership. Lucy has no hesitation in thanking Turning Lives Around for the way their lives are now looking. “I was in an abusive partnership, my relationship with my parents had broken down, they had thrown me out and I was sofa surfing and pregnant,” she said.

“When I was 11 weeks pregnant, I was bitten by a dog and assessed by social services as ‘At Risk’. They connected me with TLA and my support worker, Tina Grant. “Turning Lives Around saved me. I moved into their Flagship South intensive support environment, (ISE) which was temporary accommodation and started working with Tina to change my life.

“Tina was able to help me apply for maternity benefits, helped me free myself from my abusive relationship and ensured I had access to medical support in the weeks leading up to giving birth. Tina even arranged for intermediate food parcels to make sure I was healthy while I was pregnant and while I was waiting for my benefit to be sorted out.” Lucy knew that Flagship was only temporary, despite the fact that she has been there for some months and is only now starting to apply for her own tenancy in South Leeds. “Tina and TLA have never stopped supporting me. Tina showed me how to apply for my own tenancies and has been helped me look for nurseries for my son so that I can either find work or start some courses to gain some skills so I can work,” she added.

Now in a loving relationship, Lucy is more confident and independent making her own plans and turning to TLA and Tina for support when she needs advice. “I have a boyfriend, who is great with my son, and we are planning our own family, own home and hoping to learn to drive. Tina and TLA are still there in the background though. “Tina comes to the house each week and is always at the end of the telephone.”

For their part Turning Lives Around were thrilled when Lucy was nominated for and won a Leeds City Council award as part of its Scheme for her resilience.

For her part Tina is confident that Lucy is ready to move on. “Lucy is on the housing list and has proven that neither she nor her son are at risk. They are happy and looking to the future and made so much progress. But we won’t suddenly leave her when she gets her own tenancy. Then she will move to floating support so she can be making more steps towards independence but be happy to know we are in the background for her.”

Janet Spencer, CEO of TLA said: “Vulnerable young people can end up sofa surfing through no fault of their own as the result of unintended consequences. With support their lives can return to normal and Lucy is evidence of the partnership between TLA and a determined young woman.

While Lucy’s story has a happy ending, others are not as fortunate. Many young people find themselves sofa surfing due to a lack of local authority accommodation.

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