Guest blog by Emma Leigh MBE
Emma is currently a Public Engagement and Communications Manager for NHS South Cheshire CCG.
Previous roles have included working for Public Health, in particular working with veterans and offenders for which she was awarded an MBE.
When not chattering, Emma enjoys reading and going to the theatre.
Emma is married to Glen and has 2 grown up children.
I offered this blog post some time ago, I was excited to share my thoughts, then got an attack of nerves, how do I really feel about reliving some of my teenage years?
So where do I begin, I guess a bit of back story. I was born into a fairly typical working class family, homeowners and proud to work all the hours that god sent to pay the mortgage. I was lucky in the sense that I enjoyed school, but lacked any longer term goals, aspiration wasn’t really promoted at home.
Like many families, my own had it’s resident skeleton in the cupboard, in the shape of one of my parents problems with alcohol and while it didn’t put me on the path to ruin, it hardly helped me enjoy a normal upbringing at times. Anyway, I thought I was rather grown-up, and found myself both married and pregnant (yes in that order) at just 17.
Sadly my intelligence didn’t quite stretch as far as working out somewhere to live, looking back I rather think I was in denial, hey there was a lot happening at the time, so I started married life and subsequently brought my baby home to my parents home, which was certainly not ideal.
After much cajoling, our names were added to the councils waiting list for a house. At first it seemed fruitless, 24 years ago the lists seemed just as long, but the squash at home meant I was soon motivated enough to press for action.
When our daughter was 4 months old we we’re finally allocated a house, an end terrace with a typically huge garden, which many council homes enjoy. Ah the joys of our very first house, the coal fire, the single kitchen unit and not a great deal else. But that didn’t deter us, with some begged and borrowed furniture, we set up home.
So what did my council house do for me and my family? It taught me the sense of community, memories of Jessie the old lady two doors down still make me smile now, it gave me the responsibility of paying my own bills and learning how to budget, it taught me how a myriad of families can rub along together when the drains block. The council and latterly, the housing association also provided me with a valuable back-up, like the time all our pipes froze and water came crashing through the ceiling, support was just a call away. The repairs team we’re always practical and and came and sorted problems out.
Over time, the house became a home. It wasn’t just a council house down a council street, it was where my family belonged. In 1999 we we’re lucky enough to be able to purchase the the house, meaning that I could afford to finish my education as well as keep the house going. I hope that by gaining not one, but two degrees and now working for the NHS I am able to repay, in some small way, the support I received over the years.
So there it is, actually I think I can look back and feel quite proud.