It's a long time since I left Elpis but it such an important place for me, and I want to tell my story.
By the age of 14 I had lost both my parents, as well as one of my brothers, and I was really struggling with grief. My older brother couldn’t look after me, so I had to go into care. Foster care failed me miserably as I was the victim of child abuse, then I moved into supported accommodation that didn’t work out either. My social worker found me Elpis Centre, and I moved in when I was 17.
Elpis staff made me feel very welcome from the start. I had a lot of issues to overcome and I began to feel secure, and the healing began. I spent 3 years at Elpis where I learned a lot about me, and about how to look after my own home.
There’s lots of things I am proud of since leaving Elpis. Firstly I have had 3 kids, all grown up now, and I am very proud of all of them. My daughter is 27, and living and working in London; my eldest son is at Uni and has a young family, with my first grandchild on the way next summer. My youngest son is 17 and works locally.
I was married but it wasn't particularly successful and we divorced several years ago. I am in a very stable relationship now but it took me several years to find out who I was. I realised that I had little trust in people, this was nothing to do with Elpis but due to my foster care placement and poor relationship with my brother.
Apart from my kids, my other biggest achievement - which I honestly never believed would happen - was my degree. I never thought I was smart enough for highers, let alone a degree. However when the older kids were younger I returned to college to start my academic journey. I began with doing my highers, this took me into social care work. I had a passion for supporting people, so I chose to work with older adults and people with learning disabilities, and began working in care homes.
Whilst working in social care, I started doing voluntary work and took on running a play-scheme that led me to do an HNC in Community Work. I still thought I’m not smart enough for university but I took the plunge and applied. I nearly cried when I got a place. This was all new to me, but I absolutely loved the learning, I was with people like me, who had similar experiences during their childhood and adulthood. I took on many volunteer roles including being on a committee who supported students from looked after care placements. I was even more proud when I gained my degree and have my graduation photo proudly in my living room.
Currently I work in a school supporting children with complex needs. I enjoy my role and use a lot of skills I have learned throughout my life. Relationship-wise it’s been a rocky road but I have finally found out who I am and where I am in my life. I am proud of my achievements and proud of where I am now, it has taken me a lot of self discovery and building on who I am as a person.
Aged 16 I contemplated suicide after being the victim of sexual abuse, and missed my Mum so much I felt I had nothing to live for. Moving to Elpis was a good thing. It began me on the journey of finding peace after losing my Mum at a tender age.
My message to young women who live in Elpis is never give up hope, learn everything you can but your journey will continue after Elpis, you will find out who you are. Even if it’s not in Elpis your journey will continue - whilst you might have a few stumbling blocks you will get there.
It's been 30 years since I was in Elpis. I am sure it has changed in many ways but the ethos will be the same - never give up hope and believe in yourself. I am living proof of this.