Being young and pregnant with your first child is daunting at the best of times. Being homeless as well is a chilling prospect.
That was 21-year-old Te Rangi’s life eight months ago: nights at a shelter for women and days spent wandering the streets.
Having lived in more than a dozen Child, Youth and Family foster homes since she was three, her first experience of flatting ended abruptly when she was thrown out after becoming pregnant.
‘I don’t connect with my family so I didn’t have support there,’ she says. ‘Yeah, that time was tough,’ she says.
Te Rangi came to The Salvation Army when a flat became available at one of its supported housing units. This typically accommodates mothers for three months—usually enough time for them to ready themselves for a new life with their children.
Salvation Army social workers quickly realised that if Te Rangi was to establish a viable future for herself and her baby, she would need to re-evaluate the direction of her life, learn new life skills and build up the support networks most of us take for granted.
She commenced counselling and started a Salvation Army-designed programme dealing with emotional issues such as grief or loneliness, and developing skills like assertiveness and goal-setting. She also worked with a budget advisor to prepare her for the day she would run her own household as a single mother.
Beryl, a Salvation Army support accommodation supervisor and advocate, prepared and supported Te Rangi as she negotiated long-term rental accommodation, a new and formidable experience for the young mother.
She introduced Te Rangi to the support group Mothers Of Preschoolers (MOPS) to help her build up a circle of new friends and support. Te Rangi also widened her network by joining a local church.
Today, Te Rangi is the proud and doting mother of a four-month-old daughter and the house-proud tenant of her own home. The Salvation Army helped furnish Te Rangi’s new flat and will provide ongoing food parcels and mentoring until she is on her feet. She is also continuing with Salvation Army counselling.
Beryl says Te Rangi’s early life failed to prepare her for adulthood, but she knows the future she wants for her daughter and now knows how to get it. ‘No obstacle is too great—it’s about mindset, and I can see a good future for Te Rangi,’ Beryl says.
Te Rangi is now looking ahead for the first time and will mentor other young mothers at the Salvation Army flats. She also plans to study.