Richmond drop-in centre, Ma’s Place, has closed its doors after nearly five years, after helping hundreds of women across the region.
The Richmond home-based charity, aimed to support solo mums through accommodation and providing a community network, has finally closed, but founder Carol Marshall says that the last five years have been an ‘incredible’ journey.
The charity was started after Carol, who has a background as a midwife, realised there was a need in the community for support for solo mothers.
“We realised quickly when we started that there was a huge need for accommodation. We’ve been doing accommodation for single mums, we were one of the options for people with kids in the housing shortage,” Carol says.
“It’s not just about the accommodation, it’s the community to belong to as well.”
Over 30 families have lived at Ma’s Place in the last five years, staying anywhere from two weeks to an entire year.
Ma’s Place also ran a shed for used baby gear, where people could come and take what they needed, as well as two drop-in days a week where mothers could come and meet with each other.
“It was about being an open home, like being able to drop into your mum’s house for a meal, or a chat. There was a gap in the community because not everyone had that.”
“We didn’t want to just provide a roof over people’s heads, we actually wanted to see them progress and grow, and find their direction.”
Carol says that most of us know people and have a community, which enables us to succeed.
“If you don’t have anyone whocan support you, and you’ve got little ones, you can get stuck.”
After 5 years, Carol and her family made the difficult decision to close Ma’s Place. With four children under 10, and another one on the way, Carol says it was becoming increasingly difficult to juggle both.
“We home-school, we’ve got a lot of kids, and my capacity to be the host ended.”
Last year, Carol and her family moved off the premises on Cautley Street in Richmond to enable someone else to take over Ma’s Place, but eventually, they needed to move back into their home after being unable to find accommodation elsewhere.
“Covid hit, and our plans got messed up,” she says.
“We needed a home and we’re having another baby. We were trying to make it work, but it meant we couldn’t run Ma’s Place from our home anymore.”
“I’ve had to change my focus. I wasn’t able to fully be a mum to my kids. It’s still on my heart and I still want to help people, but not as an official thing.”
Carol says that the decision was a hard one to make.
“I poured everything into it, and I believe in it, but I think it was the right decision to make for the season we’re in.”
Carol says that the best thing has been seeing the transformation in people’s lives.
“Seeing that change in the mums who come through, where they’re in crisis mode and they can’t get ahead, and in a cycle of moving from place to place and not getting anywhere, to see them become settled and find their feet, and find that confidence as parents.”