Emily's Story

Emily's Story

Emily Wyatt is a Team Leader for Alabaré at Wiltshire Leaving Care, Bournemouth Young People Leaving Care and the Parent & Baby Service.

In meeting Emily I was charmed by her honesty and humour when speaking about her day-to-day life working with Alabaré. Travelling across South West England every week, Emily supports a diverse range of service users and throughout our conversation, it is clear how much she values and respects every individual she supports. To begin, I asked Emily how the recent COVID restrictions have affected these individuals:

“Parent & Baby have been hit the hardest… there are new young parents who cannot have their partners or Mums visit them, with many having to rely on public transport to see their family who may live far away. They are strong so they are getting through it and everyone is trying their hardest.”

Emily puts much love and care into her work, and when I had learnt that she had herself been supported by Alabaré as a young parent I was keen to learn more about her experience with Alabaré as a service user and as an employee. The following conversation gives insight into Emily’s own story of making life-changing decisions and dedicating her career to the care of others.

“Everyone has got a story, a reason for why they’re where they are, and Alabaré listens to that story."

Could you tell me about your life as a Young Person?

“I explored the boundaries as a young person. My father called it my ‘wandering years’; when I was about 16 I just went slightly off the rails, and it came to a point where my parents and I couldn’t live together.

I moved into supported housing in Salisbury which at first I thought was a dream…I was 16 and I had a boyfriend. He was much older than me and it was abusive but I believed that I loved him and got more deeply involved with him. If I tried to leave, he would become abusive so it was a shock when I discovered I was pregnant one evening.”

Emily spoke about how she denied this reality for days, wanting to ignore the serious nature of the situation until she took another test and received another positive; at this point, she knew she needed support and so reconnected with her parents.

“I called my Mum in tears at half two in the morning and I just said ‘I’m pregnant. She just said, ‘we’ll talk tomorrow. When your parents say that to you, you just feel awful. I love my Mum. She wears Russell and Bromley shoes and Per Una from M&S… but when she came to my supported housing with a bag of shopping from Waitrose she stuck out like a sore thumb. She told me that if I wanted the baby, I had to know that it was my baby and not hers, but if I didn’t want the baby, she would support me with that. I was kind of stuck because I wanted her to make my decision and to tell me what to do.

That night I plucked up the courage to tell my partner, he screamed at me and demanded why I had let this happen, and he grabbed my head and hit it hard against the wall. He said, ‘if you get rid of this baby, we’ll make a go of things and I’ll give you the world, but if you keep this baby, you’re not keeping me.’ Suddenly the bottom fell out of my world. After all, I had thought he would ask me to marry him, because I am from the life that if you get pregnant, you get married, and you live together happily ever after, but that’s not what I got.

I made the decision to keep my baby, which is the best decision of my life.

I never heard from the father again.”

Tell me how you first came to Alabaré?

“I had just turned 18 and was heavily pregnant…that’s when it dawned on me that I needed to do something. I had been recommended Alabaré’s Parent & Baby and I was told that it was a house and that they’d support me until I got my own place. After meeting with the team, I was told I could move in. After the birth, I became really ill which meant I was in the hospital for about 5 weeks, and I remember being desperately worried and asking my Mum to check that my room would not be given away. She was told that I just needed to get better and that it would be ready for me when I was, which was amazing.”

Within a few months of recovering, Emily was able to bid on an independent home for herself and her new child.

“Before Alabaré, I was floating with the wrong crowd, doing the wrong stuff. I was pretty sure there was nowhere for me, but by moving to Alabaré they helped me realise that I could do it; I could move on and I could have my own place, I just needed to prove to them I could. From there I just always wanted to come back, I had not realised how large the organisation was nor that there was more to it than simply Parent & Baby.”

Over several years, Emily worked in the care sector enjoying roles caring for the elderly. In 2019 she saw an advertised role at or a Support Worker at Alabaré’s Parent & Baby, on her application she mentioned that she had in fact lived there as a resident years before and wanted now to come back. Within months Emily began working across various services; Young People, Parent & Baby and Leaving Care and began to see a future for herself within the charity, and was keen to grow and learn at any opportunity:

“I thought I’ve got to keep going. Anytime somebody was needed, I made sure I was available. I knew I had to manifest, and I had to become a yes woman, as it would get me where I needed in the end.”

Now working as a Team Leader across Wiltshire, Chippenham and Bournemouth Emily has established strong connections with her colleagues and works hard to ensure a positive working environment.

“My team and I all have the same outlook and work ethic, and it just works because I love my team.”

How has your experience affected your way of working today?

“It’s that I get it, being there and their frustrations. And if there are frustrations, then I tell them that it is not forever.

Parent & Baby for me was like the light at the end of the tunnel. It’s just that last bit of work, but if you just do it you’ll have your own place. I love Alabaré, and the people that work for Alabaré work here because they care. Everyone is here because they have been through similar things or they know someone like that, or they just want to help and no day is the same and it's amazing.

I loved caring for the elderly, but it was their last stop... Alabaré’s like your new beginning, it’s the start of it, and if you use it for what it’s there for then you’re going to do amazing things.”

What do you think makes Alabaré unique?

“I would say because we get to know the people we are supporting. We care about who they are, where they’re from, where they’ve been and what has happened. Alabaré cares about the people it supports as individuals. Everyone has got a story, a reason why they’re where they are, and Alabaré listens to that story.

The services that Alabaré offers help so many different people. I know that if we had a client with different cultural needs that our chaplains could provide support. Alabaré manages to show you what Christianity is and what it stands for, whether you are Christian or not, the core values of Alabaré ultimately are held within everyone; Care, Compassion, Generosity, Respect.”

How would you describe Alabaré as making an impact?

“It’s making an impact even if just the one person has somewhere to sleep for the night, or the one young mother has somewhere that is going to lead her into the best years of her life, or one young person steps away from abandonment, who then has heating, hot water, and a roof over their head. One young person wouldn’t sleep on our bed because she didn’t believe she was going to be with us long enough to get comfortable; the impact that we create is that that young person now sleeps in her bed.

A lot of service users can be ungrateful at the time until they come to leave but you have to be in the right frame of mind to accept support, and also to get as much out of it and what we’re trying to provide. If people aren’t ready for it that’s fine. So long as the frontline staff understand the common goal then it all falls into place.” 

Words By Sophie Mrozinski
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