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Ali’s Story: Making a house a home

Alison (Ali), a former resident of St Martins ‘Community Housing’ service shares her story about her journey with St Martins and how it has positively impacted her life.

At just 14 she ran away from home in Lowestoft and ended up in a Children’s Home in Liverpool. “They got in touch with my mum to say I was staying there, my mum said, keep her”. From then onwards Ali fended for herself. She is proud that despite her past life experiences, at 49 years old she has never had a criminal record.

When Ali first made contact with St Martins she visited the ‘somewhere safe to stay hub’ on recorder road- Norwich. Where they temporarily gave her a bed to sleep in until something else could be provided for her. Ali was then moved on to Bishopbridge House where she was given her own bedroom & en-suite. Ali has a knack for making her surroundings homely. While she was at Bishop Bridge house she transformed the garden into a beautiful space. “You have to be able to walk outside and have some peace.” One thing that helped Ali the most at Bishop Bridge House was the staff. “I miss the staff. All they can do is get you on a road where you’ll be happy at some time in your life.”

Being a mother and grandmother herself Ali’s motherly instincts definitely rub off on the other residents staying in her community house. “They call me mum! I bring back food from food banks and community fridges for everyone, to encourage the others to cook and eat healthily.” She did not want her residents to worry about where they can get their next meal from “worry kills you”. Not only does she make sure the cupboards & fridges are fully stocked, but she also gives the community house the ‘Ali’s touch’. “It’s a hollow house. It’s got no pictures on the walls.” Ali plans to put this right by going to the Donation Station charity shop at Anglia Square to pick some things out for the house. She has already bought a mirror “I make sure I smile at myself first thing in the morning, so it’s not wasted on anyone else.” Ali explains that her favourite thing to do is smile and she has previously been gifted things by members of the public to thank her for being so cheerful and smiley.

Ali plans to get a laptop and start to study so she can work with the domestic violence and abuse charity – Leeway or St Martins. Ali also talks about how her grandchildren are so precious to her and her dream is to have her own place and have her grandchildren stay with her so she can help and give her daughter a break.