Mothering Sunday presents a glossy image of motherhood, but what do you do when you're young, homeless and pregnant or have a new baby?  For the young women living at Hightown's Mother and Baby services in St Albans and Hemel Hempstead, this is an all too real predicament: they are among the 122,000 16-24 year olds who present as homeless every year in the UK*.

Thankfully, this Mother's Day, the young mums – and their babies – who currently live at the services have a safe, secure and welcoming place to stay and the support that is crucial to helping them navigate life as a new parent. 

Provided in partnership with St Albans City and District Council and Dacorum Borough Council, the services house up to eight young women in St Albans and up to 17 in Hemel Hempstead.  Residents – who stay at the service for up to two years - each have their own room and work closely with support workers to learn independent living skills in areas such as parenting, budgeting and health and wellbeing.  A large part of the support the young women receive is emotional; the staff are on hand round the clock to provide advice and a shoulder to cry on if needed.

John, a support worker at the St Albans service, says:

"Our residents have to deal with a lot of emotions but we aim to give them hope and something to aspire towards.  Their world is just beginning but there's nothing to stop them from following their dreams."

Mia, 18, was referred to the St Albans service in October last year after her family home became too overcrowded following the birth of her son, now 10 months. 

She says:

"It's nice to have people around you going through the same situation, you get support and you make friends.  It's also nice to have your baby socialise with other babies their age.  The support workers help you feel welcome and I have settled in very quickly.  You have to do everything on your own and I've had to learn how to plan meals, especially now that we're weaning, but John is always there to listen and give advice."

Once she is more settled, Mia hopes to resume her role working at a local children's day nursery – experience that has stood her in good stead for life with her new son.

Mia has settled in well to the St Albans Mother & Baby Service

* source: Centrepoint