A decade of giving hope

12:00pm Friday 21st December 2012

By Oliver Evans

HOMELESS, in debt and struggling with alcohol, single mum Edith Mulondo had hit rock bottom.

But after two years at a centre which helps young parents, the 24-year-old has turned her life around.

Rachel House this month celebrates 10 years of helping more than 200 women improve their lives.

It was set up by Sanctuary Housing after concerns about Banbury’s teenage pregnancy rate, which was twice the national average.

Miss Mulondo said: “I was homeless. I had no job, I had debts and I had a baby. I was a single mum, I had no family or friends to turn to.

“When I came to Rachel House I was a little bit scared because I thought they take away your independence.”

Yet she said she received vital support from the 11-bed Dashwood Road centre, which caters for parents aged from 16 to 24.

This included help managing her finances and maintaining a healthy lifestyle, said Miss Mulondo, who came with son Bentley.

Miss Mulondo said: “I have learned how to live independently, I have gained a lot of confidence and self-esteem.”

Now Miss Mulondo has moved into a Sanctuary home and has another son, Brayden, four months. She is also taking a degree in youth and charity work at Ruskin College, Oxford, alongside volunteering in the Bretch Hill area of Banbury.

The centre, funded by Oxfordshire County Council, provides 24/7 on-site support for residents, who stay an average six to 12 months.

Local service manager Louise Powell said: “When I first met Edith, she was very worried about coming here.

“She was quite shy and nervous and we have seen her really flourish, especially in terms of her confidence and self-esteem.”

The centre helps mums who would otherwise struggle to maintain tenancies because of issues like anti-social behaviour, has a “near 100 per cent success rate” and a waiting list of about 15 she said.

Residents, who have to be referred by Cherwell District Council, pay a service charge of £7.08 a week.

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