St Albans mother and baby service supporting new mothers who had unsteady start

Stephanie and Leah. Picture: Emma Fletcher Photography.

Stephanie and Leah. Picture: Emma Fletcher Photography. - Credit: Archant

A 24-year-old mother has praised a service which has helped 71 women since 2010.

The St Albans Mother and Baby Service offers self-catering accommodation and practical and emotional support to new mothers, many of whom had a difficult start to parenting.

Stephanie, who was living with her parents when she became pregnant, lives at the service with her 10-month-old daughter and said: “When I first moved in, I didn’t speak to anyone. I was upset I was living here and felt like I didn’t need the support that was offered.

“That changed after I had my baby. I soon realised how good it was to have the support and made friends with the other residents.

“When you have a baby, sometimes you don’t know whether you’re coming or going but living here has been really grounding for me. It’s like a family here and I look forward to coming home. The staff are amazing, they help with anything and everything really.

“Things aren’t as bad they may seem, if you work with the staff you will really benefit from your time here.”

Stephanie has returned to work for one day a week and is planning to increase her hours and leave the service.

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Women usually stay there for between a year and 18 months before moving on.

A housing support worker at the service, Sandra Hanton, said: “I love my job as it is so varied and rewarding. It feels great when I see residents increasing in confidence and gaining the parenting and life skills needed to offer their child a happy upbringing.

“I also support people in the community who have previously been homeless, and help them with budgeting and accessing other services such as bereavement counselling or mental health support.”

The mother and baby service is run by St Albans council and Hightown Housing Association.

Hightown’s director of care and supported housing Dave Black said: “Our team at the Mother and Baby Service do a remarkable job providing mothers with important support, advice and care.

“As we say thanks to mums across the country, it’s important we also celebrate those that haven’t necessarily had the easiest start as a parent, but with the right help are learning the skills they need to give their child a good start in life.”