“I had one Mum queueing outside the supermarket every morning with her baby, in the hope that nappies would be in stock. It was so stressful for her, but she was desperate. It was wonderful to be able to say we can help! It strengthens your relationship with them no end, proving that you care and that they can trust you, a leap which can be extremely hard because of their difficult upbringing.”
This week, we caught up with Johanna Hawker a Personal Adviser at Croydon Children’s Services who specifically supports young adults who are leaving care, to find out how lockdown is impacting them and how Stripey Stork has been able to help.
Johanna’s role is to support those who have previously been accommodated by Croydon Council in a care setting and are ready to take their next step into adult life. Usually this means they have been in foster care, but on turning 18 they no longer have the option to stay with their foster family, or in their supported accommodation. With otherwise little or no family support, Johanna helps them during their 18-25 years as a young adult, to learn the necessary skills needed to be independent, from finding employment and somewhere to live, to managing their own money.
Johanna told us how it’s not unusual for care leavers to become parents as young adults, so help with parenting and the practicalities surrounding this is another area which requires her support. This is where Stripey Stork has been able to help…
At the beginning of lockdown, Johanna collected a bulk supply of nappies, wipes, hygiene products, books, stationery and entertainment activities. There was enough for 40 families, so the supplies were shared amongst other departments in Children’s Services, covering areas such as disability and safeguarding. The collection came at just the right time as many families were struggling to find basic baby supplies in the shops – giving peace of mind to those who really needed help.
What was also amazing says Johanna, “was the wonderful beauty products by Jurlique which were included as a special treat for the Mums. The focus is always on providing for their children so they often neglect themselves and are usually overlooked. To be able to give them a little pick-me-up is an emotional exchange”.
She also told us about another young Mum who is living hand to mouth, she called Johanna absolutely devastated that her baby’s pram had been stolen. Johanna made an emergency referral to us and the very next day a replacement pram was collected and delivered to Mum.
“Mum’s funds are so limited, she’d never have been able to replace such a big cost item. To be able to tell her this good news, after feeling so worried and demoralised, was the best feeling ever.”
Johanna explained that without our service, there would be no other option to access this kind of help:
“There are limited organisations available to provide practical support and for those care leaver parents with no access to public fund there would be no other option. This would be devastating for these young parents who, although legally adults, still need a lot of support themselves so they can give their children the best start in life.”
We’d like to thank Johanna for taking the time to feedback to us and shining a light on the importance of our COVID-19 Appeal for the local families who need our support at this difficult time.