Emily is a young mum who went to Willowbrook Place, a Teenage Parent Unit (TPU) in Maidstone, when she was 17. Here she tells her story.
I came to the Teenage Pregnancy Unit when I was 17 and my daughter was around a year old. We had moved from my father’s house to Willowbrook following a referral made by my social worker.
When I first moved into Willowbrook, I was very nervous but excited at the same time.
I was really looking forward to having a place that I could call mine, for me and my daughter.
We had done a lot of moving homes prior to moving in.
When I first moved in, I instantly received a lot of support from all the staff but mostly my dedicated support worker. Meeting with my support worker meant that she could help me set up all the utilities and payment methods and plans to suit my budget and help me control my money accordingly.
I found this quite a challenge at first as when I was living with family my bills were covered by them and I only had to budget my money for the necessities for my daughter.
Whatever was left over was used to treat ourselves but Willowbrook helped me budget my money to cover all the bills and food costs first, then whatever was left over was mine to spend on me and my little girl.
I feel like I gained a lot from Willowbrook.
We had to attend specific courses, which contributed to the 17½ support hours we had to maintain per week.
These courses included things such as money management, parenting classes, domestic abuse awareness, first aid and many others. They really increased my skills as a person and a mother; it also helped me to handle a tenancy.
Moving out to independent accommodation took me a while…
I had to wait until I was 18 to make an application to Maidstone Borough Council and for personal reasons I was limited on certain areas that I could bid.
However, being at Willowbrook meant that I was put into Band A which meant that I would be moving sooner rather than later.
I stayed at Willowbrook for the two years offered as one of the properties I thought I was successful on fell through, but eventually I managed to secure a tenancy on a two bedroom flat just around the corner which I am extremely pleased with.
I was very well supported in securing a tenancy.
I was given all the help and support needed to set up my new utility bills and change my address. Willowbrook also supported me in making sure I had all the appliances, furniture and white goods that we needed.
The TPU flats come furnished so when I moved on I didn’t have bedroom furniture, sofas or white goods but I was supported to make sure that I would get these items by approaching different charities and applying for grants. My flat is now fully furnished.
Willowbrook has changed my life completely.
I would recommend Willowbrook place to any young mums or mums-to-be who are in need of some support and guidance.
I am now in my own home, my daughter is happy and healthy and in full time nursery and I am studying a full time course at college.