Praise for charity helping young women and families transform lives

Fleming Gardens acting project manager Laura Hazelhurst (left) and project worker Sally Turner - photo by Kerrie BeddowsFleming Gardens acting project manager Laura Hazelhurst (left) and project worker Sally Turner - photo by Kerrie Beddows
Fleming Gardens acting project manager Laura Hazelhurst (left) and project worker Sally Turner - photo by Kerrie Beddows
YOUNG mums have paid tribute to the support of an “understanding” charity which has helped them and their children build up the confidence to escape from difficult living situations and embrace a new way of life.

YWCA Yorkshire provides services to women, children and families from three South Yorkshire sites and is currently celebrating the 20th anniversary of its Fleming Gardens base in Rotherham, which includes 20 houses – ten in a cul-de-sac location in Bramley, and ten throughout the local area.

As well as accommodation and support to the households, project workers deliver training to young women and families across the borough – including Cherelle Parkinson (26) and son Theo who accessed YWCA services after their living situation in another area of Rotherham became untenable.

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Support worker Dawn helped Cherelle develop her confidence and skill set to move into a non-YWCA property.

Cherelle Parkinson with her son Theo, who has been supported by YWCA - photo by Kerrie Beddows.Cherelle Parkinson with her son Theo, who has been supported by YWCA - photo by Kerrie Beddows.
Cherelle Parkinson with her son Theo, who has been supported by YWCA - photo by Kerrie Beddows.

Cherelle said: “I've made a lot of progress with Dawn.

“We cover lots of bases like finances, debt, mental health and finding different coping strategies to day-to-day tasks like doctors appointments or making phone calls to Yorkshire Water, helping ensure the information is correct about moving in (to the new property) and taking the right steps and not falling behind.

“I couldn't have asked for better.

“She's to the point – but not telling you what to do, she's easy to get on with.

Alice Blackstone and daughter Jessica, who have received support from YWC photo by Kerrie BeddowsAlice Blackstone and daughter Jessica, who have received support from YWC photo by Kerrie Beddows
Alice Blackstone and daughter Jessica, who have received support from YWC photo by Kerrie Beddows

“I've had support workers in the past from different places and a lot of them were box-ticking people and they were not empathetic.

“Here, it's really understanding.

“They are normal, they're on your level.

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“They help you to do things, build your confidence – sometimes I just need that supportive little push to do it.

“Eighteen months ago things looked very different.

“In emergency accommodation you can't settle because you know you will have to up and move on but we got through it and I don't think I would have managed as well as I did without Dawn's help.

“I've finally landed somewhere I can chill now – I can see myself at 80 in that kitchen!

“It's a beautiful house for us.

"It’s lovely with a big garden as Theo loves the outdoors.

“He is very excited about going to the new nursery – Dawn came with me on our first visit and made sure I took all the right documents and helped me with all the practicalities.

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“He found it really hard to detach before because it's just been me and him for so long but he is a lot more confident now.”

Fleming Gardens resident Alice Blackstone (22) and two-year-old daughter Jessica have also benefited after previously using YWCA's support services in the community.

After moving into a two-bedroom property on site, Alice said: “It's nice and cosy – we both really like it.”

Laura Hazlehurst, YWCA senior project worker, said: “Things happen in life and Cherelle and Alice have been through a lot, but I don't think they realise how resilient they both are.

“It is a privilege to be there support them through it and watch them grow.”

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