Mia describes her upbringing as challenging.
She had no contact with her father despite knowing that he lived in the local area with another family. She had tried reaching out to him as a teenager but he refused. Furthermore, Mia’s mother had ongoing issues with mental health, drugs and alcohol and moved away when Mia was 19.
Mia moved between various friends and family, with a period of sleeping in her car and also living with her grandparents, who she was close to until they passed away. Her mother returned when Mia turned 21 and she gave up her accommodation to move in with her mother and brother.
In January 2020, Mia was referred to our Tenancy Sustainment service. She had given birth to her daughter one month previously and was currently on maternity leave. Mia held a joint tenancy with her mother, as her mother was unable to afford the property on her own. Although Mia was in a relationship with her child’s father, they both lived with their mothers and felt committed to stay to provide financial support.
Mia mentioned that during her pregnancy, she had some concerns that her mother was using illicit substances and had warned her not to smoke around the new born baby. Due to her mother’s addiction and mental state, she continued to present herself as a risk to the baby and Mia took the decision to leave. She moved into her partner’s mother’s property but this was against the tenant’s wishes and she made it clear that as she was elderly, she did not want additional people in her property, particularly a baby.
We supported Mia by completing referrals to local hostels, make a homeless application and claim the appropriate benefits. As she was still officially a joint tenant with her mother and there were rent debts, the letting agent would not allow Mia to remove herself from the tenancy. This meant that she had to continue making payments towards a property she was unable to live in. We issued the agent with a notice to quit the tenancy which also terminated the tenancy for her mother. The decision was difficult for Mia as she did not want to see her mother lose her home but she had to protect her baby.
As the country was instructed to go into lockdown due to COVID-19; she made the choice to stay with her partner’s family as opposed to going into emergency accommodation. This was a very difficult time for her as she has anxiety and her partner’s family members made it clear that she was not welcome.
Eventually, Mia was allocated a room in supported accommodation and moved in with her baby in July. We helped her to set up rent payments and budgeting plans.
Mia is now returning to work in October and managing her tenancy extremely well. She is a very capable young lady and an excellent mother. Also, since securing her own property, she is making great improvements in managing her mental health. This demonstrates how safe affordable accommodation can bring stability and security, provide a gateway to access health services and enhance social and community inclusion.
As an organisation, we are aware that the winter months can be more challenging for our young people. The shorter daylight hours and weather conditions can often mean a young person feels more isolated and unable to socialise with others. Household bills increase to heat their homes and if they have children, there is a pressure to spend beyond their budget around Christmas time. Many feel lonely and sad around the festive period for circumstantial reasons. We will continue to check in with our service users like Mia over this period.