07 December 2016
Laying a holly wreath on his mother’s grave is a Christmas ritual for YMCA Norfolk Supported Lodgings resident, 22-year-old Thomas Hannant, and a sad reminder of this time of year.
Thomas was just nine years old when he returned home from playing at the park one day to find his mother, Donna, dead.
“Me and my sister Sonia were down at the park and she sent me back to see if dinner was ready,” said Thomas. “I went in and saw my mum with her head on her hands and under her hands was a note which she had written.
“After that I was depressed and not myself for a long time and was taking anti-depressants. I went to live with my dad and his other family, but we did not get on so I went to my Nan’s and then into care – which turned out to be for the best.
“I went into care when I was 10 years old, just before Christmas and around my 11th birthday. As there was no permanent placement for me to go to just before Christmas, this increased my anxiety and depression as I didn’t know what was going to happen.
“Fortunately, social services found me a placement with foster careers, so I was able to spend Christmas with them. I had a place to call home and my foster parents were brilliant.
“I came off the anti-depressants by the time I was 13 years old with the help of my foster parents. I phoned my dad, but he said he didn’t want anything to do with me.
“I stayed with my foster parents until I was 20 years old. They were very supportive and are still there for me today. They encouraged me to go to college and take up riding horses,” said Thomas.
“I moved into YMCA’s My Place, which at the time was a good move. But I didn’t really settle and moved into Supported Lodgings in Norwich with a lady called Freda who I get on really well with.
“I cook for myself and a friend as well sometimes. I have been offered the chance to start some voluntary work in a horse yard soon. I have already done a diploma and NVQ in Equine Studies at Easton College.
“The YMCA has helped me with finding a place to live and with managing my money, which I was really bad at. They have also helped me to come out of my shell as I was a very shy person and not much good at talking to people. I even got the chance to make some plum jam which we sold at the YMCA celebration event recently.
“Christmases with my foster carers were really good, I felt part of the family. Last Christmas was my first Christmas at the YMCA and I went to stay with my sister, who I have always been close to. It was really good as we don’t get to see each other as often as we would like.
“I’m looking forward to doing the same this again year, seeing my sister and her partner. I also try to visit my mum’s grave before Christmas when I can, to lay a holly wreath on it and flowers at other times during the year.”