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We need space for our babies; Teenage mums' thumbs-down to homes idea.

Byline: HANNAH DAVIES

Should teen mums live in special accommodation? HANNAH DAVIES asks three girls their opinion on the plans announced by PM Gordon Brown "I'D hate living together with a lot of other mums, sometimes there can be a lot of bitchiness," Elaine Young, 17, a mum-ofone, is horrified with Gordon Brown's new plans to house teen mums together in "supervised homes".

"You need your own space to bring up your baby in," she adds.

The Prime Minister's plans for young mums were outlined at the Labour Party conference last week. They are to house 16 and 17-yearold mothers, who don't live with their parents, in supported accommodation and have been met with everything from outrage to praise.

But most of the comments have come from other politicians The Chronicle we went to Ashlyns Unit in Kenton, Newcastle, to ask three of Tyneside's teen mums for their views.

Becca Wright, 16, of Heaton, is worried the homes could end up like hostels, "with just the worst sort of people in them, which wouldn't help anyone".

Chatting to the three young women it is clear all three value their independence and, although they all live with their families at home, Elaine and Sonia Heslop, 16, of the Montagu Estate, Newcastle, both want to move out soon.

"It'll be better for me and Harley," says Sonia, "my mum works so I do pretty much everything myself anyway and I want to get our lives sorted properly."

It's hard to think of any reason why Sonia, who is doing her GCSEs and wants to be a policewoman, shouldn't get her own flat, and easy to see why she wouldn't like to live in "supported" accommodation.

Mature and responsible beyond her years (as all three point out you have to be when you have a baby) she wants to have a good job so she can bring up Harley well. She is eventually hoping to become either "a policewoman or an accountant".

"I already knew how to do everything for my baby," says Becca who is hoping to become a hairdresser.

"I have two cousins who used to stay all the time so I learnt a lot from that."

Sonia agrees, "I helped look after my brother a lot."

"It also is a natural instinct," Elaine adds, "you know you have responsibilities as soon as the baby is born."

All three say they are good mums although they do say they know of one or two people who could do with a bit of help.

"But most people are great," Becca adds, "and there's a big difference in how people of all ages bring up their children," Elaine states: "Teenagers are just as good parents."

Becca, Elaine and Sonia all became pregnant accidently but say as soon as they had their babies they say became responsible, they didn't need to be taught.

"Having Shay probably saved my life," says Elaine.

"Before I was pregnant I went out every night, took drugs, drank and got arrested all the time.

"Now I only go out once a week when my mam babysits.

"I breastfed for six months so I can't be that bad a mam."

Elaine is studying health and social care and eventually hopes to be a midwife. She admits she misses just being a normal teenager sometimes.

And Becca says if she could give any young girl advice it'd be "don't get pregnant".

But from looking at their well-dressed, happy, babies it certainly doesn't seem these young women are shirking their responsibilities.

"Look," Sonia adds, "some people might need help but others just want their own flat so they can get on with their lives and give their babies a good start in life.

"Having to live in special homes could stop that. I'd hate it."

NAME: SONIA HESLOP Age: 16.

Lives: Montagu Estate, Newcastle.

Family: Lives with mum Allison, 40, and her partner Scott, 30, sister Jordan, 18, who studies at Kirkley Hall College, and Jay, seven, who is at Wyndham Primary School. Daughter: Harley-Natalie, 14 months, she is still with Harley's dad.

Sonia says: "I didn't plan Harley but I love my life now and I wouldn't change NAME: BECCA WRIGHT. Age: 16.

Lives: Heaton, Newcastle. Family: Lives with mum Joanne, 34 and dad James, 45, and brothers Adam, 14, a pupil at Heaton Manor School, and Christopher, 17, an apprentice. Son: Louie-James, six months. She is separated from Louie's dad.

Studying: maths GCSE re-sit and Hairdressing.

Becca says: "I never go out and I spend all my time looking after NAME: ELAINE YOUNG Age: 17.

Lives: Heaton, Newcastle. Family: Lives with her mum Joanne, 40, and her 16-year-old brother. Son: Shay, 16 months, she recently separated from Shay's father. Studying: Health and Social Studies.

Elaine says: "Just because you're a teenager doesn't mean you're a bad mother.

"There are plenty of women in their 30s who shouldn't be

CAPTION(S):

RESPONSIBLE: Sonia Heslop, 16, of Montague Estate, with her daughter ADVICE: Becca Wright, 16, of Heaton, with her son Louie-James, six months
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:Oct 8, 2009
Words:842
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