How Amber turned her life around

Image: AmberFive years ago, a series of family tragedies left me in a really fragile place.

“My mental health suffered and I found it difficult to keep on top of things. My eldest daughter was taken away because I was struggling to look after her. When I got in touch with St Mungo’s. I was dangerously close to losing my home.

But my St Mungo’s advisor helped me start to get my life back on track. They supported me with things like budgeting – when you’re experiencing grief, the last thing on your mind is money – but also with my mental health. They helped me get through my grief and out the other side to a place where I could feel hopeful again.

One of the most important things my advisor did was encourage me to go and see a doctor. The doctor helped me begin to deal with what had happened, and also provided letters which helped me to negotiate repayments.

Once people knew that what I had been saying about my mental health was true, that it had been confirmed by a doctor, they were willing to be more flexible. I got the headspace and the time I needed to sort myself out. Because of my St Mungo’s advisor, I managed to keep my home.

Being in touch with St Mungo’s also introduced me to lots of new things. They sent me the Recovery College curriculum and I thought it looked amazing, so I went down to the open day.

That’s when I met a woman called Jill who told me about Outside In, St Mungo’s client involvement group, and I decided to get involved in that too. I’ve done all sorts of things as part of Outside In. I’ve organised the Client Festival, which is a one day festival run by and for the people St Mungo’s supports, and I’ve been on interview panels. It’s what gave me the courage to apply for the apprenticeship.


It gives me such a warm feeling inside to know I’ve helped someone improve their life.

Image: AmberEven though I was starting to get my confidence back, I was still struggling to deal with the fact that my daughter had been taken away. I don’t think it’s something I’ll ever fully come to terms with. Having a child removed is a very lonely experience – I felt this overwhelming guilt and shame but I didn’t feel like there was anyone I could talk to about it.

Sometimes I think that the parents are forgotten in these situations. Of course the child comes first, that’s how it should be, but I think it would be really beneficial for both parents and children if more support was available.

That’s why I decided to set up a support group at St Mungo’s Recovery College for women who have had their children taken away. We could meet once a week to talk about our experiences. I would see what the common themes were in our conversations – whether it was self-esteem or difficulties finding work – and then come up with things we could do to help combat those issues.

I like to think that the group made a real difference for those women. It helped me, too – I stopped feeling like I was so alone in having a child removed. In the future I’d like to do more to help women who have lost their children. Maybe I’ll set up a charity or something similar.

My next step is to move back into education. I recently got into university to study social work. I’d love to work with families who need immigration support, or with vulnerable adults. I’ve learnt at St Mungo’s that having a job which helps people is really important to me. It sounds cheesy, but it gives me such a warm feeling inside to know I’ve helped someone improve their life.

Now when I look back at everything that happened it makes me feel proud. All of the tragedies of the past have helped me to get to where I am today, a place where I feel fulfilled and happy. St Mungo’s helped me when I was at my lowest and now I can do the same for other people.”

Interested in finding our more about our inclusive learning, training and employment service? Find out more about our Recovery College.