Family visit Dudley Lodge a year after their assessment
03 May 2022
Staff were delighted when former residents Sasha and Paul came back to visit the centre with their daughter one year after their 12 week family assessment. It was a poignant day for everyone as we looked back to where they were before they came, their time at the centre and where they are now.
Sasha had her first child when she was 17 years old and went on to have four more while being subjected to abusive relationships. She suffered with anxiety and depression and struggled to keep a stable lifestyle. The older children from these relationships are no longer in her care.
Sasha then met Paul and became pregnant again. They were both motivated to care for their daughter and since her birth were keen to parent her together. Sasha and Paul came to Dudley lodge for their assessment when their daughter was six weeks old.
They embraced the process fully and were enthusiastic to put into action anything they learnt. A year on, it was so moving to see how they have developed as a family, and how they’ve grown into a strong, resilient family supportive of each other. It was wonderful for the staff to see their daughter who they knew so well as a baby, now a bubbly, happy toddler.
We asked them about their personal experiences of the assessment process and what helped them get the most from their time at the centre:
How did you feel before you arrived at the centre for your assessment?
Sasha: “Initially I felt very anxious and worried. I worried about what it’d be like, how I’d cope & what people would think of me because of my background. I didn’t know what to expect and reading reviews on Google made it worse. When I arrived I realised that it was nothing like the reviews at all, the staff were so friendly and understanding, they put me at ease. There wasn’t one member of staff that we didn’t get on with, they all helped us every way they could.”
Are there any memorable days that stand out?
Paul: “Staff put a lot of activities and trips on, we took part and got involved in everything we could. We really enjoyed it, especially the Bingo and it all helped make the days go faster. Initially we had no unsupervised time out but this was changed after a week. We’ve got great memories of a trip out we had as a family to Market Bosworth Country Park. We could leave the centre for 6 hours at that point so drove to Leicester for our day out. They had a man-made beach by the lake, a park, a funfair, arcade and a sandpit area. We sat on the sand, chatted, laughed & paddled our toes in the lake…it was lovely and felt like a holiday.”
Sasha: “We also went on a walk to the local Memorial park with staff and around 6 other families. We had a picnic, chatted and laughed. It felt like a lovely day out with friends.”
Did you have any difficult days?
Paul: “Yes, everybody has hard days. I have a mushroom allergy and the food one day was prepared with mushrooms on the plate. I was told to just take them off but it was ruined for me and couldn’t eat it. I told staff how angry I felt, they totally understood and gave me the space I needed that day. The assignments and 1 to 1 sessions that were scheduled that day were just moved to another day when I felt calmer.”
How did you feel after your assessment when you left the centre?
Sasha: “We felt sad to leave the staff who felt like friends and also leaving our flat which was our home for the 12 weeks. But at the same time we were so happy and excited to start living an everyday, normal family life together though.”
What does it feel like coming back to the centre?
Sasha: “It’s lovely coming back and seeing everyone again, staff felt like family when we were here and coming back is like seeing old friends again. We’ve got lots of fond memories of the people we met and the things we did and we still keep in touch with some of them. We even wish we could come back and stay over for weekend breaks!”
Have you got any tips or advice for families coming to stay at Dudley Lodge?
- Think positively, not negatively. Don’t worry that you’re not good enough, or won’t cope or what people might think.
- Remind yourself why you’re here. Stay focused. Be friendly with other families but don’t get involved with their dramas as it will only reflect on you.
- Make your flat feel homely, it’s your space so take in pictures or things from home. If there’s any equipment or things you need, just ask the staff & they’ll do what they can to help you.
- Be honest and open. Keep talking to staff, engage with them as they only want to help you. Take part in the as many of the activities they put on as you can. Communication is key.
- If you’re having an off day, just let staff know & they’ll give you time & space you need. Don’t show your little one you’re having a bad day. Remind yourself that things can only get better.
- It feels like the time goes slowly when you’re there but it actually goes so quickly – it really flies. Make the most of being there, listen & take on board the things you’re shown.
(*Stock images used for this article)