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"It was a very good environment, in particular for the time when having a baby as a single parent you were very much a second class citizen and looked down on."

"Good memories, good memories, It was what I needed... I mean I dread to think what might have happened to me if there wasn't the The Croft at the time "

"The Croft was like being a family without being family ... You are starting again. You are starting afresh and you could be who you wanted to be"

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More Stories from the Croft
Ruth I Johns's Story

The project for me has been a very emotional experience. It is wonderful to know that what I did all those years ago at The Croft, out of a deep sense of injustice for the way many young pregnant women were treated, did make a positive difference. I am sad that we are now returning again to a more divisive society. There is need - more than ever - for individuals and local groups to speak truth to power.
The Croft - and all of Family First's work - could not have achieved so much without a large number of volunteers who became involved because they believed in what Family First stood for: many of them from their own life experiences.
Government bureaucracy has managed to destroy Family First as a local organisation. But many of us, who were any part of it, have not forgotten the justice and liberating processes of self-help and continue to use our skills and voices in many parts of the UK: and overseas.

Ruth I Johns: 16 January 2013

Ruth set up The Croft in 1966 and lived there in the rent paying 'resident family' role for ten years.

"Well, I think it was really essentially quite simple because I didn’t see anything complicated about it; it just seemed so common sense that people needed somewhere safe to live, for a period, whilst they sorted out their lives, you know, that seemed to be eminent common sense. So what you needed was a place, financial viability, so everybody paid a rent that covered it, there was no profit motive, that part of the work I did voluntarily of choice because I felt that if I was a warden, kind of matronly person, then if you weren’t doing something you’d feel obliged to fill your time by doing something and that’s where the rot sets in and ... for me it was extremely enjoyable because basically the group very much worked together and helped each other and the occasions I was called upon were usually when somebody was either going into labour or ... going to hospital, or if a mother was in hospital without any relatives to visit then we would previously ask her whether she would like a visitor and introduce her to maybe a volunteer, and they got on well, and then that volunteer would go in as her extended family, and it was simple things like that just so that people were supported in the way that anybody would want support for themselves. So, it wasn’t anything, in my eyes, as remarkable. The remarkable bit, with hindsight, is the nerve I had in standing up to authority, because on one occasion when a mum had to go back into hospital after her baby was born, very distressed because she didn’t want separation because of her own family background ... and it was after the edict had come out from Government that babies could be with their mothers in hospital, and there was an organisation had got that going, and she was told that she couldn’t have the baby and I remember getting in the car with the carry cot in the back and going to the City Hospital, taking the baby into the ward and sitting there until they signed that the baby was going to stay and, you know, that was purely I think an extension of how I think, well 'how would I feel if I was being treated like that?' And, you know, the baby stayed and all turned out to be well. But the preposterous ... it was when authority became preposterous that I kind of toughened ... but the day by day stuff was thoroughly enjoyable. Yes we had our ... you know, there were always things happening because you would get ... a neighbour, there was one neighbour who used to shout under my window fairly regularly at three o’clock in the morning about how awful the tenant was that lived next to her, and it wasn’t that at all, she was a very unhappy lady but, you know, she was ... those sort of things you can do without. But, by and large, the neighbourhood were, as I say, there were some absolutely magnificent people there and they got to know the mums and particularly mums that didn’t have family or local contacts. I mean many of the mums did have family and local contacts, some didn’t. And for the ones that didn’t, then there were neighbours and there were volunteers and there was quickly a big family feeling. "