Danielle’s Story

Posted on February 5, 2021 by Iosis

“Merivale has given me back my family.”

32-year-old Danielle had been in and out of jail several times before she arrived at Merivale in June 2020 with her new baby, Jade. She had started using meth when she was 14 and moved out of home around the same time.

Danielle carrying baby Jade - Iosis Merivale

“Things went from bad to worse and I got involved with gang members as I continued to use,” explains Danielle. “When I was released from jail the last time I went back to Jade’s father and fell into my old ways. This time when I fell pregnant, I knew I didn’t want to lose my baby and I didn’t want him involved in her life.”

Danielle moved out and went to live with her best friend. However, her friend was a meth user and she was still surrounded by users, which she says made it “almost impossible” to change – even though she wanted to. “I realised how unwell I was and that I would need help to get off meth and make the changes I needed to keep her.”

“When I had Jade, I tested positive for meth and it was during lockdown, so it was really difficult. I was in contact with OT (Oranga Tamariki) and my mum suggested that this time, I shouldn’t go to rehab, which I tried many times before, but that I try a parenting programme.”

Merivale – a parenting programme for young mothers

OT put Danielle in touch with Merivale, a residential parenting programme in Auckland for mothers who have a background of abuse, addiction, or domestic violence – and who are struggling with the challenges of parenting. Women receive counselling and attend a range of life skill, self-development and parenting classes.

Most mothers graduate after six months and leave the programme with their children in their care. They’re sent here by various agencies including OT, but they all have one thing in common: Merivale helps them learn to care for their children – and regain their lives.

“I came to Merivale in June 2020 and I felt so relieved to be there – I have never felt so supported or welcome in my life. Initially it was so hard and I was really sick while I was withdrawing from drugs, but I looked after Jade and went to class every day. I kept thinking during this time, that if I’m going to stay in bed, then I’m not fighting for my daughter.”

“My approach has been to be really honest and to not waste the opportunity. I’m one of the lucky ones.”

The staff have been amazing and the tools I’ve learnt like the ‘Circle of Security’ and parenting techniques have changed the way I parent. I’ve also had a lot of personal issues to fix. I can now express myself and am much better at connecting with others. My relationship with my mum has improved and I see her every weekend. She and my Nan are really proud of me and they both love spending time with Jade. Merivale has given me back my family.”

Regaining her self-esteem, her daughter, and her family.

“I am so grateful to the acceptance Merivale showed me,” says Danielle. “I value myself now and my self-esteem has improved so much.”

She says she’s looking forward to moving to the next stage of her recovery. “I’d like to go to Unitec at some stage and help other people, but for now we are waiting on a house to settle in and my priority is getting Jade (now 7 months old) into a really good routine when we leave. Thank you Linda, Jillian, Sonny and Merivale for giving me my life back.”

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