Three months ago 16-year-old Leanne Clarke was seven months pregnant and living with her grandmother, sleeping on her sofa. But times have changed – and much for the better, they both agree.
Now just turned 17, Leanne has had her baby and they are settled in a modest, one-bedroom flat, one of a small block of four in a quiet part of Wisbech.
Leanne and her four-week-old son Billy-Joe are the latest people to benefit from the Fenland Young Parents Project, which has just celebrated its 10th birthday.
The project is for young women aged between 16 and 25 who are pregnant or have a child under the age of two and are either homeless or at risk of becoming so.
Over the past 10 years it has provided homes and support for 48 young mothers.
It is built on a close partnership between Fenland District Council, Sanctuary Housing Association, the Ormiston Children & Families Trust and Circle Support.
The flats are owned and managed by Sanctuary and support for the young mums is provided by Ormiston. Once they move on into social housing, follow-up support is provided by Circle.
To get a flat a woman has to be referred by FDC’s housing options team.
People can stay in the project for up to two years if necessary but they have to meet and talk with the project worker from Ormiston every week; if they fail to do that, they are asked to leave.
Kate Shaw, Sanctuary’s housing and agency monitoring officer, said: “The links between Sanctuary, FDC, Ormiston and Circle are very strong.
“Down the years we’ve had fantastic results here through the support given to people like Leanne and Billy-Joe.”
Debbie Stockdale, from Ormiston, said: “The close partnership works really well and we’re very proud to be part of it.”
n If you are homeless or think you might become homeless in the near future, telephone FDC’s housing options team on 01354 654321 or email housingadvice@ fenland.gov.uk