TEN years ago M3 Project set up its unique Teenage Family Service and this year the 100th mother and baby were provided with supported accommodation.

Over the years the project, based in Rawtenstall but operating across East Lancashire, has had many success stories, including Anna who was just 16 and pregnant when she contacted M3.

She said: “I am very proud and I didn’t want to ask for help, I didn’t want charity because I have always earned my way, but I needed help.

“I couldn’t stay living with my dad because there was no room for me, contacting M3 was the best thing I could have done for me and for my children.”

Senior Project Worker Joanne Aspin leads the project and Anna said: “Joanne is not just a support worker she is a friend.”

M3 arranged for Anna and her partner Josh to move into a two-bedoom flat, which was ideal for the couple, Theresa, now three, and Athena, two, but when she was expecting their brother Cain, now 20 months, she needed a larger property.

Anna said being on the project gave her the confidence to then source her own accommodation, initially in the town centre and now the family have settled in a three bedroom end terrace in Church.

She said: “Without M3’s help when I was 16 and pregnant, I wouldn’t have known what I was doing. I don’t know where I would be have ended up, but it would have been a bad place.

“I am now living across from my sister-in-law and we have been able to help each other through the lockdown and be there for each other.

“M3 has made me more confident and able to sort things for myself.”

Josh, 23, is hoping to start a woodworking course in September, and Anna, will be 21 next month.

They are planning to get married in the next three years.

Her advice for teenage families who find themselves in a difficult situation is to contact M3 Project. She said: “Don’t think too much into it, help is out there.”

The service provides accommodation and an intensive support package for young women who are pregnant or have a baby and are living in temporary, unsuitable or overcrowded accommodation.

Senior Project Worker, Joanne Aspin, has seen many changes over the years and this has led to an additional Support Worker being employed.

Cutbacks have meant that the role of Health Visitors has changed. It is no longer a statutory service with one visit when baby comes home and they have restricted contact thereafter.

Changes involving Universal Credit have mean often there are issues around budgeting as payments are made once monthly so money management becomes problematic.

There has also been a rise in young mothers experiencing mental health problems and post natal depression and Joanne feels they now have far more complex needs than when the project was set up.

When the time is right, the project also encourages young women to get back into education or in to work.

To find out more about the charity visit www.rossendalem3.org/