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‘I wanted to better my life for me and my children’

The Transformational Living Centre for Families provides mothers and their children with accommodation and support (Photograph by News Staff)

A woman who moved into the Transformational Living Centre for Families in its first year of operation said its programme had helped change her approach to life.

The 33-year-old found that listening to the experiences of others made her feel less alone and motivated her to offer support.

She and her two sons took up residence at the TLC last autumn, around the same time as she started a new job at a supermarket.

Since then, the woman has balanced the demands of parenthood, work and settling into a different environment with making the most of opportunities to learn, grow and develop skills such as money management.

She said: “I’ve learnt how to budget better — there have been a few hiccups, but that’s life, right? — save, manage my time.

“Being a parent of two boys is a little overwhelming, so the workshops have helped me to have more patience with them and not always yell.”

The TLC, which opened its doors in February 2022, was launched to provide safe and secure housing for mothers and their children.

Families take part in a transformational support services programme, which includes sessions designed to help heal, empower and prepare them for transition to the community.

Children can receive psychosocial, developmental, behavioural and academic assistance, and participate in activities.

The woman recalled that when the family first moved in, she felt welcomed and that her needs were met.

She added: “I’ve been through a lot, I never had that support and here I do — counselling, different meetings, which is actually good for me, I get a lot of knowledge from it.”

The mother said the programme helped her to “mature a little bit more and see things in a different perspective”.

She told how her own life included adverse childhood experiences and said she had spent time in foster and residential care.

The support programme allows women at the TLC to hear from others as well as to take part in workshops on topics such as parenting support, raising boys, boundaries and self-esteem.

Sessions at the TLC have helped the mother to understand that she is not alone.

“A lot of people that have come have had close stories to my life, so it‘s been touching and nice to know,” she said.

“I know that there are other people who have been through the same things I’ve been through but for someone to openly talk about it … it’s opened my eyes to realise that I want to be a mentor because I’ve been through a lot, and a lot of people don’t talk about certain things willingly, so I want to be that person that would help someone to open up.”

The woman explained how she and her older son take part in counselling sessions, individually and together, which is improving their relationship after a challenging period.

Although the child at first found the move difficult, he made friends with other children at the centre and even claimed later that he did not want to leave.

The mother started her job less than a week after the family became TLC residents and, with “crazy” hours, life became “a little bit overwhelming”.

Her shifts now typically end at 5pm or 6pm, allowing the three to spend more quality time together.

Staff at the TLC, which was initially expected to provide in-centre support for up to a year, realised after it opened that most mothers would need at least 12 months to heal before they could start to prepare for independent living.

Phase 2 of the residential programme includes life and financial planning to help the women sustain themselves and their families.

The mother said: “I wanted to better my life for me and my children.

“That is why I came here.”

She added: “I just want to be stable and have somewhere decent for my children to stay, and build a close bond with them.”

The woman said she felt more equipped to "live life properly“ and set boundaries, as well as being better able to parent and offer guidance to her children.

She developed tools that help her to approach challenges more calmly, with greater consideration and less frustration.

The woman said: “I’m thankful for being here because it’s a lot of support.

“I feel like I’m one with the staff because they understand where I’m coming from.”

She added: “I don’t feel like they’re just staff, I feel like they’re family as well because it’s one thing to do your job and that’s what you want to do, but they have a passion for it.”

A TLC spokeswoman said: “It’s a blessing, really, to hear this mother receive the support that we intend.

“One of the most powerful things she said, and I say powerful for the entire concept, is that she sees things differently now.

“For us, that’s very powerful because that is the intent, that they gain a totally different mindset to take them out of the trajectory that there were on in life.”