The day before her birthday and wedding anniversary, Mandie’s husband died suddenly aged just 39.
Mandie was left alone to care for her young daughter. Struggling with grief after the devastating and unexpected bereavement, nine-year-old Tiana was also dealing with the horror of losing a parent when she became her mum’s carer.
After an accident, Mandie had smashed her leg and was wheelchair bound for eleven months. Isolated from family back in Manchester and unable to work, Mandie struggled to provide for her and her daughter. Debts mounted and the financial problems kept increasing.
“I lost everything in six months – my husband, my job, my home, my car, and my independence. I was told I wouldn’t walk again.”
Tiana dropped out of dancing, cheerleading and gymnastics, withdrawing from social activities altogether. It wasn’t until one of our Family Entrepreneurs introduced themselves at Tiana’s school fair that things began to change.
We helped Mandie successfully apply for a council house and helped the family move in. We also provided invaluable support to Tiana, from taking her to school when Mandie was unable to, to meeting her on a regular basis and helping her open up and share her feelings about the loss of her dad. We also funded bespoke counselling for her and arranged support from the Young Carers Association.
“If it hadn’t been for Family Gateway, I simply don’t know what I would have done. They were there for me constantly and were so down to earth and practical. It’s very hard to admit you need help, but I’m so pleased I did.”
Tiana also got involved with our summer holiday activities with a friend and loved it.
“She became a child again, it was lovely. Since she’d been my carer, she’d been making sure I took my medication on time, doing the cleaning I couldn’t manage… things she shouldn’t have had to do at nine. I felt so guilty for the life she was living.”
Despite being in a wheelchair, Mandie volunteered with us for almost a year before starting work as a Family Entrepreneur. Since October 2017, Mandie has been working on our Macmillan Cancer funded programme in North and South Tyneside.
Tiana and a group of friends researched, created, developed and ran YACAs (Young Ambassadors for Cancer Awareness). Their workshops ran for six weeks at a time, with each session covering a different aspect of cancer and the impact that this had on young peoples’ lives.
“I’m just so proud, they deserved the Unsung Heroes award that they got last year for all the work they’ve done.”
Mandie has come full circle, working with us as a Family Entrepreneur to help support other families through difficult times with her bereavement training.
“When a family is in the darkest place they can be in, it’s my aim to help them through. To ease that burden.
“I’ve been there. I know how hard it is. We weren’t a family who needed help and then suddenly Mark died, and I needed all the help I could get. I was terrified my daughter would be taken into care because I felt I couldn’t take care of her.”
Mandie’s story demonstrates the cycle of the Family Entrepreneurs project from engagement, intervention, volunteering, and employment. We’re thrilled at the outcome for Mandie and Tiana and are so pleased we could support them through such a difficult time.
Mandie’s organising a health and wellbeing fair in November, we’d love it if you’d come along and show your support!
Family Gateway provides bespoke support to families with complex lives who need help to improve the life chances of their children and we help them design enterprising solutions to community problems.
We employ local parents like Mandie who have experienced the same or similar issues as those we support and we help families acknowledge, accept and address their underlying issues.