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Spotlight on Eden Park

2019 - February, Latest news

From the outside looking in, Eden Park is just another scheme – a tucked-away site in Corby with 13 self-contained flats. But the work that takes place in Eden Park sets them aside from the pack. For almost 15 years, the scheme has been supporting vulnerable young parents, many of whom have suffered domestic violence or have nowhere else to go. We paid a visit to the scheme to see the valuable work that goes on there.

“Our referrals come mainly from social services, so we’ve become very specialised in what we offer,” says Zoe Hall, Project Manager. “There aren’t a lot of services like this in the country – we’re very well supported and received. We don’t have any ASB, so we don’t require any police intervention. We offer activities like baby massage and holistic parenting support, as well as feeding into court visits and conferences, and delivering the Freedom Project.”

The latter is a tool that the Eden Park staff use to deliver messages around domestic violence. It’s a 10 week programme that can be delivered in a group or in a one-on-one setting. Zoe says that, while the attendees start off reluctant, they become more engaged throughout and end up taking a lot from it. For some, it has proven invaluable.

Zoe has worked at Eden Park since it first opened in 2005, working her way from officer to manager. She’s seen the scheme transform in that time, taking in a wider range of young families to include fathers and parents in their early 20s.

Every day is different here. Don’t get me wrong, it can be really hard – and quite harrowing when you’re working with the high risk cases – but we almost always have great outcomes. We have dealt with some very difficult things, but every member of the team wants to help and will go out of their way.” Our clients are going back into education; they have aspirations and they want to engage. So the more we can offer them, the better. We have the minibus now so colleagues are able to go out on trips and stuff with them. When you’re out on the trips, you’ll really see a difference in the families –the parents enjoy it as much as the children. They’re only young themselves.”

Zoe Hall

Keen to meet the clients, we went to call on Paulina, who we’d been speaking to prior to our visit. Paulina, who’s 20, has a two year old son, Isaac, but that doesn’t stop her working at her local gym, volunteering at her local community centre and attending college to attain her personal trainer qualification.

“I don’t like sitting at home, it’s boring. I can’t do it,” says Paulina, after welcoming us into her immaculately-kept flat. “I’m looking forward to qualifying as a personal trainer; I’ll have the opportunity to do further courses and I’ve already been offered a full-time role as a trainer for when I finish my studies.”

“I’m still volunteering some of the time at the moment, but I don’t really mind. It gets me out the house and I’m learning and getting good job opportunities.”

I didn’t really know much about the fitness industry before I had Isaac; I was doing Health and Social Care at college, then I switched to construction. I was doing bricklaying at six months pregnant! But I got my full qualification, had a year off with Isaac then got straight back to it.”

Paulina

Paulina is looking to a future where her hard work has paid off. “I’d like to be able to move out of here soon, hopefully into a house with a garden for Isaac. He needs it, he’s always running around!”

Finally, we meet 22-year-old Kirsten and her one-year-old son Hunter. She's been living at Eden Park for a year and a half:

I like living here. It’s better than where I was – I didn’t have anywhere. The staff are supportive and, although I don’t need a lot of help with Hunter, they helped me get set up when I first moved here. I’d never lived by myself and all the responsibility was new to me.”

My Nana was diagnosed with breast cancer last year. I had to stay with her – my mum passed away when I was 17. I was barely here, but the staff were great about it. My Nana’s cancer has gone now; she’s got the all clear. 

“I work in a pub – I used to be a carer, but I can’t do that with my son. I’m also a singer. I’ve been in one band for a couple of years, and I’ve just started with a new Classic Rock band. I’d like to move out in the next few years – it would be nice to have my own space.”

Since we visited Eden Park the end of last year, Paulina has moved into her own flat, but still visits Zoe and the team.

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