House of hope for pregnant teens
The first teenage mum resident at Blenheim's Hope House believes the centre will help her become the mother she wants to be.
The house is run by Christian organisation Bread of Life, and cares and supports vulnerable teenagers and young women and their babies.
It will welcome its first residents this month. making it the only housing refuge for teenage mums in the top of the south.
The four new residents are all aged under 18 and will live in the house before their due date and may stay until three months after they give birth.
Each has her own private room kitted out with a bed, cot, toys and baby accessories kindly donated by the public.
Wherever possible, girls will continue their schooling through a correspondence tutor, but will also learn the many skills required in life including gardening, cooking, hygiene, housekeeping, crafts, music and motherhood.
A 16-year-old mum-to-be, who cannot be named for legal reasons, will become one of the first residents.
She said the home provided a safe and loving environment and would give her the foundations to become a good mother.
"It is like home here," she said. "It is so welcoming. Being pregnant is exciting and scary. I wouldn't be the mother I wanted to be without their support. It has given me more confidence and support than if I were to go it alone."
Introducing residents to Hope House follows the success of the facility's daycare programme.
Since the home opened in September, 17 teenage and young mums have gone through the programme.
They have been introduced to budgeting, nutrition, breastfeeding, play options with their baby and have received tutoring to help them continue their educational studies.
Bread of Life team leader Annie Bately said introducing residents was later than expected but worked well.
"When we opened initially, we expected to accept residential girls immediately. We have done the reverse and started the day programme to encourage girls to come in and to build trust. They were able to come here and be assured that that they are not at risk and going to be cared for in a safe and secure environment."
While at Hope House the girls will be supported by a raft of 36 volunteers, health professionals and will be individually mentored.
Subject to availability, the house will accept girls aged between 12 and 25 from anywhere in New Zealand under the condition they are drug- and alcohol-free.
The latest census figures reveal that in 2013, thirty girls aged 15 to 19 in Marlborough gave birth.
Mrs Bately said the founders of the centre long recognised the need for such a home for teenage and young mums.
"If you take the number of pregnancies in Marlborough and the number of terminations, which is very high, people would be horrified. Sex education is not doing what it was set out to do."
She said they endeavoured to keep mum and baby together.
"There has been this rumour going around that Hope House is about taking your baby off you. That is so far from the truth. We work hard to ensure the girls and their babies are kept together."
Hope House manager Meg McConway said the house offered support and advice to vulnerable young women.
"Many young adolescent girls becoming pregnant find they have very little by way of support," she said. "Many young mums have few resources, skills and experiences to raise their young child. They have very limited skills to run a home and raise a child.
"Hope House is a happy, positive and safe place. When they come they don't like to leave. Above all, they have a home where they may feel loved and also establish a strong foundation for themselves, their babies, and the father and families they belong to."
The Marlborough Express