As an ‘Early Years’ Support Worker, I’m lucky that I get to spend time with families who are just setting out on their life journey together, finding out more about each other as they go.

Having a baby is such a major life event, and it’s really touching to see how hard families try to make their brand new life work for them, no matter what the circumstances. Making the transition from homeless accommodation into a permanent tenancy can be scary enough, but with a new born baby it can be all but overwhelming.

[See the full set of photos on Shelter Scotland’s Flickr.]

When Scottish Gas offered to help one of our families by decorating and furnishing their new property, I immediately thought of a 24 year old single Mum, Riley, and her 9 month old baby son. Riley had been living in a homeless flat for 18 months – a single bedroom flat, in a high rise block in Glasgow, in very poor condition due to damp, insect infestation and poor insulation. The situation was so bad that Riley had resorted to them both sleeping in the front room. Despite Riley having a very positive, sunny, optimistic attitude, there were times when she would wonder when her homelessness would ever come to an end, and questioned would she ever be able to create a home for her baby boy.

When Riley was finally offered the chance of a permanent home in the South of the city, she was delighted, determined, and motivated. We all set to work applying for funds, arranging transport, sourcing goods, transferring details. When I was able to tell her that Scottish Gas would help furnish and decorate the property to create her own little family home, she couldn’t believe it. She was so happy!

Work started immediately, with a team of staff descending on the shell of a property and working tirelessly – new flooring was laid throughout the whole apartment, rooms were all painted gorgeous colours, Riley was treated to a brand new bed, sofas were provided in the beautiful airy living room, curtains were hung on shiny new curtain poles. Cushions, artwork, mirrors, plants – they were placed thoughtfully, and added lovely extra finishing touches. Riley was consulted at all stages about what she would like, and was able to concentrate on all of the other practical aspects of the house move, such as registering at a new GP, clearing out the old flat, notifying of new address etc.

I went out to visit Riley and her baby son a few days after she moved in. Riley excitedly told me:

“I’m over the moon with it – it’s all perfect! All of the workers in the flat were lovely, they welcomed me in at different stages to show me how they were doing. When I went in at the end to see the flat finished I was shocked and speechless – I thought “WOW!” I didn’t think they would get so much done. I felt so emotional! It would be great to have other families get the opportunity to have something like this – something great for them to look forward to.”

By far the biggest success in this fantastic collaboration has been seeing a little baby boy’s first room take shape beautifully – the time and effort that Scottish Gas put into creating a bright, soothing space all of his own has been the icing on the cake. From being huddled in the living room of a damp homeless flat, to their own cosy family home and each with their own individual space – walking from room to room, I could feel the happiness and contentment that this family now have. Shelter Scotland would like to express our massive gratitude to Scottish Gas for making this such a positive venture.

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