“It’s okay to
ask for help”
For Leesa and her three children, moving into a four-bedroom house took some getting used to. The family had been living in temporary accommodation in Bedford following a relationship breakdown.
“We’d been living in one room for almost a year,” says Leesa, who has Luke (12), Olivia (8) and Kensi (4). “It was cramped but we got used to it. So when we moved into our new bpha home, we spent the first couple of weeks sleeping in the same room. Thankfully, it didn’t last long. The kids soon realised what a blessing it was to have their own room, with space to do what they wanted.”
In September 2017, Leesa left her partner and her only option was to move the family into temporary housing until she could find a permanent home. She says: “I moved from Wellingborough to Bedford to be nearer to my family. I was born in Bedford but I didn’t know the town that well, and I didn’t have any friends here.
“Being in temporary housing was stressful. There were certain rules to follow and we were living alongside other families in the same situation. I felt like I’d lost my independence but I knew I’d made the right decision and that things would get better. My focus was on making sure the children were happy.”
After applying for a number of properties through the council’s My Home Options scheme, the family moved into their bpha home in August 2018. “We couldn’t believe how lucky we were to have such a lovely house,” says Leesa. “My daughter, Kensi, has cerebral palsy so having a home with hand rails and an adjustable table for her to eat at, is such a bonus.
“There’s no doubt that having a house like this has made our lives easier, but it’s the support I’ve had from bpha that’s made all the difference. Our Housing Officer has been brilliant – explaining everything to me about the tenancy and letting me know that I can contact him if I have a problem.
“bpha also helped me deal with a council tax problem, fill in complicated forms and budget my money. These are just ordinary day-to-day things, but I’m not used to managing a home on my own. I suffer with anxiety so without this support, I would have struggled.
“I was encouraged to contact a few local support services that could help with Kensi. As a result, FACES – a charity which supports local families – sends a volunteer to look after Kensi a few hours a week so that I can spend more time with Luke and Olivia.”
Leesa says her life is much more settled now, and she’s starting to feel part of the community. “We’ve got a park across the road and a supermarket round the corner. The kids have made new friends and Olivia has joined a local dance club. Yesterday I took her to audition for Annie The Musical and she got the part! I’ll be the proudest mum watching her on stage at the Corn Exchange in November.”
“There’s no doubt that having a house like this has made our lives easier, but it’s the support I’ve had from bpha that’s made all the difference.”
With Kensi starting school in September, Leesa is beginning to focus on herself and the future. “I’ve joined the ‘You Programme’ in Bedford, which promotes wellbeing and good mental health. And, as suggested by my careers advisor, I’m doing some Well Woman workshops that will help to build my self confidence and get me ready for work.
“One thing I’ve learned over the last year is that it’s okay to ask for help. Just a little bit of advice and encouragement from other people can steer you in the right direction. There’s plenty of support out there if you reach out and ask for it.”