Young mother’s tears of relief as she and son get their own space
A mother who lived with family and friends for more than a year said she cried when she learnt that she would move into her own space as part of a life-changing programme.
The woman and her toddler, whom the Gazette is not naming, are among the first guests at the Transformational Living Centre for Families, which opened this month.
“I cried. I was very excited because I knew that I was going to get the help that I needed and that me and my son would be in a safe environment,” she said.
“It lifted a lot of weight off my shoulders.”
The woman, who is in her 20s, explained: “We were living with friends and family for over a year.
“I wouldn’t say it wasn’t safe, but I just knew I wanted to better my life for my child.”
She added: “I hadn’t had my son in school, so I felt less of a mother because I know every mama, at least if they didn’t have anywhere to stay, they had their child in school.”
The part-time retail worker said she felt it was important for her child to be among other children his age to help his development.
It is expected that the mother will receive support to send her son to nursery after they are both properly settled in their new home.
The TLC for Families opened its doors at Parson’s Road in Pembroke on February 1.
It will initially run at 50 per cent capacity — housing five mothers and their children — to allow for Covid-19 measures including space for quarantine if needed.
Edonna Bean, the executive director, said: “The transformative piece of the programme is the Transformational Support Services Programme, which was piloted out of the Women’s Resource Centre and funded by HSBC.
“The Transformational Support Services Programme consists of a comprehensive education and life skills training programme, which will be coordinated by the WRC and delivered by a collaboration of services, using community partners, to ensure any woman transitioning through the programme will have every opportunity to receive the education, transformative life skills training and support that enables them to move forward with strength, confidence and stability, thereby equipping their families with a more sustainable chance at a productive life.”
Daily activities include sessions on career readiness and critical thinking as well as seminars about women’s health and parenting skills.
Webinars and talks are also expected to cover understanding money, how to raise boys to become men, self awareness and self-esteem, and how to reinvent yourself.
Families were welcomed with a belated Christmas celebration, including sacks of gifts and traditional Bermudian fare.
The mother said: “Everything was spacious.
“I know that me and my son haven’t had much space for ourselves so once I came to my room I was excited.
“I had my own bed, closet space, my son’s own bed, a bathroom — everything is just for us.”
She added that living with other women was a change for her, but the woman said: “It’s just like living with a room-mate.
“We are a sisterhood, we kind of have to get to know each other and once we do that, we can move on and learn from each other as well.”
The TLC provides secure housing for mothers and their children for up to a year, where families take part in the programmes with the goal of achieving self-sufficiency.
Its website said: “After 12 months in the programme, families will be given the option to share more independent housing for a further 12 months where they can test out their newly learnt skills and proficiencies.”
A TLC spokeswoman thanked a Pembroke resident and her family for her help before the centre opened.
She explained that Sharon Jacobs asked if she could provide coverings for the building’s doors and about 40 windows.
The spokeswoman said: “Ms Jacobs was invited to tour the facility and co-ordinated and purchased window coverings according to carpet, wall and storage colourings.
“When she discovered that bedrooms needed more privacy, she added financial donations for further blinds to ensure that moms and their children had the best possible privacy.
“Most recently, Ms Jacobs and her family donated further funding to enhance the hardwood floors with area rugs.”
Ms Jacobs added: “I always wanted to get involved in community service.”
She said: “I was really excited to help the TLC as my passion is interior decorating, sewing and silk flower arrangements.
“I am also quite pleased at how everything has turned out.
“I asked my family to donate funds for supplying rugs to give a cosy feeling and it certainly does.
“I am really excited that I am able to assist the TLC and wish them all the best in providing a secure and safe place for moms and their children to have a second chance.”
The TLC for Families also thanked Ms Jacobs for her time cleaning and setting up rooms as well as hanging curtains and gifting toiletries to the mothers.
A spokeswoman added that the team thanked “all other community partners” who helped to get the centre open.