The young women who come to the door of Andrew Provan House (APH) have endured much hardship, including sexual abuse. They arrive scared and, because of the traumas suffered, are wary of the help that is being offered. The main aim of the team at APH is to offer these women a safe and secure home environment, with the one-one-one support they need to overcome their fears and build the skills, confidence and resilience to lead independent, fulfilling lives.
One such young woman is Agnes, who moved into APH three years ago. She was 17, newly arrived in the UK as an asylum seeker, having fled her country of origin after being brutally raped. She was four months pregnant, spoke very little English and was totally alone – with no family and friends to call upon. Having initially been placed in the care of a local authority children’s home, Agnes was referred to APH by social services, which the local authority agreed was better placed to deal with her multiple needs.
She was assigned a key worker, who put together a support plan with Agnes, which would help her both practically and on an emotional level. Having a plan in place and spending time with her key worker, would enable Agnes to heal and find her way through the horrific ordeals she’d been subjected to.
It was an extremely challenging time for Agnes, in addition to dealing with her pregnancy and the multiple traumas she’d experienced, she was being interrogated by the Home Office, whose officials wanted to send her back to her country of origin. A joint agency effort – with health and social work professionals working closely with the team at APH – helped put the case for her to be given leave to remain. There were real concerns about her mental health and her ability to cope with her unborn child.
These latter fears were unfounded. Despite a difficult birth, Agnes immediately bonded with her newborn child. She worked well with the health professionals, who supported her in giving her child the best possible start in life.
Agnes started to take ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) classes at college, to improve her English, which helped with her confidence and being able to better manage her daily living tasks. She attended a mum’s support group, a safe space for mums to discuss their parenting concerns and experiences. She developed friendships at college and in the support group. This, together with therapy sessions and one-to-one support from her key worker at APH, helped Agnes to feel less isolated, more confident and able to socialise.
She was eventually given leave to remain in the UK and, with the help of her key worker, obtained her travel documents, giving Agnes the extra security needed and allaying her huge anxiety about being sent back to the place where she had suffered the worst abuse. Now able to access benefits and other services, Agnes felt bolder about stepping out on her own.
Earlier this year, she secured herself a private rented flat. She is seeking a nursery place for her child and will return to college to resume her studies as soon as is practicable. Agnes’ key worker will continue to check in on her for the next few months.
In spite of all that she went through, Agnes has shown great resilience and determination. She has overcome great hardship and made the most of the support and guidance given to her by the team at APH and other partner agencies. She has found the confidence to step out on her own, to make a new life for herself and her child. For all the team at APH, this is the sort of happy ending they always strive and hope for.