Cece came over to the UK from Colombia with her husband. She made a few friends at first, but her husband soon stopped her communicating with them and with her family. It was when she became pregnant that the domestic violence started…and continued as her baby, a daughter, grew. With the help of her few friends, she escaped and eventually was moved with her daughter to a refuge in Islington.  

Cece struggled at the refuge, not knowing anybody and feeling isolated. In addition, her daughter was being bullied by some of the other children. A local church provided some social contact and it was there that she was told about a Pre-school at Mary’s.

‘I thought I would pop in and have a look and, right from the beginning, everyone was very kind and welcoming. I just wanted somewhere that was going to be safe for my daughter and where she could make friends and be herself. At the time, I was in the middle of a court case for my daughter and didn’t want to keep taking her to the court or leaving her with different people.’

The little girl made friends and loved going to our Pre-school. ‘My daughter was quite clingy at first but she came along with me and played with the other children while I was doing the paperwork. I was astonished how quickly she settled. She would talk about her (key person) and the manager, Sharon, and draw pictures about them at home. You could see that, despite where we lived, she was happy’. So the Pre-school suited her daughter.

In addition, it suited Cece. ‘Sharon really helped me in being flexible with my fifteen hours so that I could attend the court and buy some extra time.  I really needed the flexibility as I wasn’t entitled to any financial support. She gave me time to talk and helped me to access family support and social care so I could get the help I needed to leave the refuge.  I realised I couldn’t live in London because it was too expensive and I wanted my daughter to live where there were green spaces. Sharon even knew the town I was thinking of moving to and suggested a particular area. I didn’t expect all that help’.

Mary’s Pre-school helped both Cece and her daughter to become more confident. ‘The Pre-school made life feel normal for me and my daughter.  It was lovely when I met other parents and we could have a playdate with my daughter and a friend. Now we have found a flat and my daughter got into school and she is looking forward to it. Mary’s has done so much.

All contributions towards our work go towards extending these opportunities to more families.