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Deborah Sibley

My name is Debs and I want to tell you about my story…

By the time I was a teenager I had just about given up on my life. Having constantly clashed with my family throughout my teens I was eventually fostered by my best friend’s mother. Although happy there, I fell pregnant at a young age and moved out to start a family with the father. However, after growing apart we separated and my daughter and I began living alone in a council house in Beaumont Leys. Life was a struggle. I was in debt, trying to live off £20 a week and was surrounded by harmful people. I wanted more from my life but I didn’t know how to get it and couldn’t see a way out.

There had been a murder on the street where I lived and this encouraged me to move away into the city centre. I managed to find a job working in a bar, which made me feel so much happier and in control of things. I met my husband and fell pregnant again so things were going well for me for a while. But then my boss began to bully me at work. I lost my unborn baby and hit rock bottom. A feeling of loss and overwhelming sadness hit me and my family hard, and the anxiety I had felt before was stronger than ever. Feeling desperate and trapped I turned to alcohol and drugs which began to get me into trouble with the Police. My husband was in and out of court for violence and drinking at the time. Basically because of the bullying at work and losing the baby we got into drugs and we were arguing a lot and the family involved the social services. The police were coming to the house because of the arguments. We had a child there too.

It was then an Outreach Worker from the ‘Just Women’ project contacted me. We’d had a social worker out which worried us as things were getting out of hand and through my housing officer and social worker we met this outreach worker who I will call Helen. I knew that my family and I needed help and I could really open up to Helen. I realised that this was not a way for a young woman to live, so I enrolled on the project. I didn’t want my life to go downhill any more. I wanted to change quite early on but it was difficult to split away from my ex partner.

‘Just Women’ was my saving grace. It’s run by a charity called New Dawn New Day, which is based in Braunstone but works with women and their families from across Leicester and Leicestershire. The project provides a range of support services for people like me including money advice, one-to-one support, independent life skills and healthy living sessions. It was here that I met a fantastic woman who gave me counselling. She taught me to allow time for myself, to focus on ambitions, surround myself with positive people and to accept the good things in life. Helen gave me the support and understanding that I needed to let whatever was hurting me out and the courage to begin to turn my life around.

While on the project I discovered skills and confidence that I didn’t know I had. As a result I felt inspired to start up my own photography business. Since then I haven’t looked back. My company, ‘Debnheirs’ is going really well. It’s peak season for weddings at the moment so we are very busy and I’ve already received bookings for 2016!

Hopefully my story goes to show, if you are passionate about changing your life, you can. Help is out there. Through the Just Women project I have managed to turn my life around. With the confidence, motivation, skills and experiences I gained from the project, I now have a company to be proud of, a better relationship with my partner and my kids and a bright future for myself and my children to look forward to.

Women have to find the help themselves. It didn’t get help in my lap – rather I had to admit that I needed help first.

Taken from Issue 17

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