Natasha* was referred to us by her social worker. Her ex-partner had just been released from prison for violent offences, and had already made contact. Natasha had a two-year-old son, and was part of a child protection plan due the abuse from her ex. She was vulnerable and had become isolated.

Due to the coercive control Natasha had been a victim of, she had become estranged from her family, and this was one of the first things she wanted to address – but they didn’t live nearby and Natasha was concerned about travelling. We worked with her to conduct a safe step-by-step travel plan, including train times, platform numbers and welfare checks via phone throughout the journey. Natasha overcame her fears and reconnected with her mum and grandma, forming a new, healthy relationship with them both.

Registering with the local GP practice was another priority. Natasha had severe anxiety and depression resulting in debilitating panic attacks. After several key working sessions, she was confident enough to consider counselling in the form of accessing “my well-being college” and as a result of the sessions Natasha developed coping strategies to help manage her mental health.

Natasha and her little boy received support from the local health visitor who identified that the toddler had speech and language development issues. Natasha was supported to attend local drop-in clinics with her son, and audiology at the local hospital.

Debt management and the repayment of council tax arrears needed to be addressed. We supported and encouraged Natasha to budget and set up a repayment plan. The years of financial abuse from her ex-partner had meant that Natasha had not had access to her own money. We helped Natasha overcome her fear of opening post which in the past had led to missed appointments and unpaid bills.

During a key working session, Natasha disclosed that she had a reliance on cannabis. At her previous property her ex-partner used the house to invite others to smoke there. As a result of this Natasha had become a heavy user of cannabis, and this was something she now wanted to fix. At first, she worried about the reaction from social care if she admitted that she had a problem as she feared losing her child, however Natasha accessed help from Project 6 to discuss her usage and a programme for help was established.

Although Natasha was getting stronger and more independent, she was struggling with her little boy’s behaviour. She would often shout at him, and admitted to locking him in a bedroom as punishment. We challenged her actions, and she agreed she needed help. We agreed with Natasha that we would make a referral to social care, and to the Early Help Gateway’s parenting programme to address the issues. We also made a referral to Family Action for support, who provided sessions at the refuge for Natasha and her son which they enjoyed, and helped them bond.

Then in March, the pandemic hit, and Natasha felt isolated again. Although she was in a support bubble with the other clients at the refuge, not being able to see her family, and the nursery being closed, meant Natasha started to spiral out of control. She began to drink heavily, but we addressed the issue and we worked with Natasha to reduce and eventually stop drinking altogether. Natasha came to the decision that she needed to be near her family, and we worked with her on her next steps.

We made an application to housing providers near to her family, and ensured that Natasha was given priority status. She made a bid for a two-bedroom house and was successful; once repairs are finished she will finally move in to a safe home of her own. Although she is moving out of the Bradford district, we will continue to support her and will use Staying Put’s Phoenix Fund to buy beds, a fridge freezer and microwave to help her set up her new home. Now supported by her family, they are on hand to help furnish and decorate her new home.

A school place been secured for Natasha’s little boy, and she intends to enrol on our family links course and Freedom Programme. We will continue to be in touch with Natasha until she is fully settled with her little boy.

*All names changed to protect our client.

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