A WIGAN single mum and former drug addict told today how good luck and council support dragged her back from the brink of despair.
‘Sophie’ was among those who met Louise Casey, director general of the Government’s troubled families programme, to demonstrate how early intervention services are helping folk in desperate straits turn their lives around.
Her accessing of the local services which are helping her get back to a life of normality, however, came only after a piece of good fortune: the jailing of her abusive partner who had got her involved in drugs.
When Sophie was just 14 her mother, a heroin addict, died.
Vulnerable, she sought comfort in ‘Joe’ who introduced her to drugs.
Sophie soon became pregnant and stopped taking drugs, but Joe didn’t.
Over the years, Sophie got pregnant a further four times and Joe’s behaviour worsened.
He would disappear for days, began selling stolen goods and was in and out of prison, sometimes for assaulting Sophie.
Whenever Joe went to prison life improved for Sophie and the children.
At first, she refused professional support offered to her.
In the meantime, the children were often late for school, or didn’t attend at all, and were living in a house often without electricity or hot water after Joe had tampered with the electricity supply and failed to pay the bills.
Joe returned to prison shortly after the arrival of the couple’s fifth baby and Sophie finally relented and turned to Wigan Council services for help.
Two years later and Sophie has made a new life for herself and the youngsters.
The children’s attendance at school has improved dramatically and Sophie has accessed counselling to improve her self-esteem.
She now has plans to become a Confident Families volunteer to help others.
She said: “It took me a long time to trust the team, but I was desperate for change. They have helped me so much. They gave me hope.
“I can see things, traits, now that I couldn’t see before. You just think it’s normal, things like domestic abuse, because it happens every day.
“I know that I can provide a decent life for my kids and I am doing the right thing. I have strong faith in myself now. But it’s a work in progress.”
The team will also continue to offer support to Joe.