Starts at Home: Maddie’s story
Stonewater currently provides safe accommodation and specialist support to 521 people across its supported housing and domestic abuse services.
This includes providing short-term accommodation for members of the LGBTQ+ community who are no longer able to live in their current home due to domestic abuse, hate crime, family breakdowns or discrimination.
Funded by the Longleigh Foundation, Stonewater’s LGBTQ+ Safe Space partners with local and specialist charities and organisations to ensure it provides the best possible support to help any of its customers with taking their next steps to independence.
Maddie* and her 3-year-old child moved into Stonewater’s Safe Space earlier this year to escape domestic abuse.
After four years of sobriety, the difficulties Maddie had faced prior to moving into the Safe Space resulted in her relapsing and in need of additional support to regain stability.
Maddie said: “I know no one does, but I’d never imagined myself having to move into a refuge. I didn’t really know what to expect, I was nervous to be honest. But I knew it would be safer than our previous home.
“When I arrived, I was partnered with my coach Manon and instantly put in touch with the charity Turning Point to help with my rehabilitation.”
Over the last eight months, Maddie has received one-on-one coaching, attended specialist domestic abuse workshops, and is currently undertaking an Adverse Childhood Experience (ACE’s) recovery toolkit.
“I call Manon and Kym (another coach at the Safe Space) all the time,” Maddie said. “I have a face-to-face session every week but the coaches are always available to listen to me when I’m feeling anxious.
“The support isn’t limited to just the session we have booked in and knowing that is really comforting. People always say they are here if you want to talk, but at the Safe Space they really are.”
Alongside getting support for herself, Maddie’s child has also been able to get the support they need from their father – who was not the perpetrator of Maddie’s abuse.
“At the Safe Space, we’re actually located closer to my child’s dad than ever before. This means he’s been able to see our child more regularly, whilst I get back on my feet.”
Alongside regaining her self-confidence, Maddie has also been looking to the future.
“I’ve done a lot of thinking about where I’d be if it wasn’t for my child and the support I’ve received over the last year. I know more than anyone what it feels like to be alone and like there’s no turning back. But I also know that it doesn’t have to be like that.
“I really want to help other people change their lives for the better, which is why I’ve applied for a role supporting young offenders.
“I’m only 24 but I’ve experienced a lot first-hand already and I really believe that sharing my journey with other people, can help them overcome some of the challenges they may be facing and help them rebuild their lives.
“I felt really low when I first moved into the Safe Space. I was constantly questioning myself and I felt like there was no hope for the future. But now, looking back, I can’t believe how much has changed.
“I’m so thankful to Manon and everyone at the Safe Space. For the first time, in a long time, I’m really excited about the future. And I can’t wait to find a permanent home for me and my child.”
For more information about Stonewater’s supported housing schemes or to make a referral please contact its specialist team on 01793 602170.
*To protect the identity of Stonewater’s customer, Maddie is a pseudonym.