Mum faced homelessness and poverty until she had a 'second chance' at life

-Credit: (Image: Sioned Peers)
-Credit: (Image: Sioned Peers)

A mum experienced homelessness and poverty as a teenager before a ‘turning point’ changed the course of her life.

Sioned Peers, 35, from Bootle, had a difficult upbringing. Speaking to the ECHO, she said: “When I was two, my mum left. I was brought up between my dad and grandma. I didn’t get on well at home. I went off the rails I suppose. I ended up living in a few different places.”

At 16, Sioned was out of school with no GCSEs and living in homeless shelters. She was often the youngest person there, with most people aged 40 or over. However, she felt “quite resilient” and able to stand up for herself.

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After the breakdown of a volatile relationship she said she fell on hard times again and ended up struggling to make ends meet.

She said: “I lived in a really bad area. I didn’t have any money. I couldn't even afford to eat. I used to sleep with a couple of coats on in the winter because it was that cold. I couldn't afford to heat the house. It was really difficult.”

Sioned had her first child, Eloise, when she was 18. A year later, her grandma Hilda died, triggering a period when she “really struggled with alcohol”.

-Credit:Liverpool Echo
-Credit:Liverpool Echo

Despite this low point, she was determined to turn things around. Shortly after giving birth to her second child, Tyler, she tried re-entering education to study health and social care but was turned down from several institutions. She feels she was not trusted due to her past.

The mum-of-two decided to apply to enrol on a criminology course at the Open University instead and was accepted. Sioned said: “Things started to look up. I didn’t get any GCSEs from school. I did my degree with the Open University as you didn't need any.”

She ended up studying for nine years, completing an undergraduate degree and then a Master’s degree at Liverpool Hope University. Though it was tricky to balance studying with bringing up two young children, it was well worth it.

The 35-year-old added: “I feel like I was given a second chance, to create a more stable future. It was difficult having two young children. The workload was a lot. But going to university was the turning point.”

-Credit:Liverpool Echo
-Credit:Liverpool Echo

Her degree gave her more confidence and opportunities for work. She began doing pole fitness in her spare time, and enjoyed it so much she began offering virtual lessons during covid.

Sioned said: “In my entire life, I'd never been interested in any type of fitness. I became really passionate about it. It was something I was able to stick at.

“I started spending a lot of time learning. I then started teaching from home, offering one to one lessons. Then I started teaching a class at the Arts Bar once a week.”

After her lessons in the Hope Street venue proved popular, she weighed up whether to open up her own studio offering lessons. She said: “It was a big risk. I wasn't sure what path to take - go with a normal job in the field I had got a degree in or follow what I really wanted to do.”

However in September 2023, Sioned took the plunge and opened Pole Dolls Dance and Fitness Studio in Bootle. She told the ECHO: “It offers more than just the gym experience. It's because of that community aspect that it brings like minded women together. People form friendships.

“I don't just offer the basic pole fitness. I offer a diverse range of classes and workshops. I also do parties, hen parties, birthday parties. I always try to offer something different.” She also rents a room in the studio to a woman who teaches children Taekwondo.

-Credit:Liverpool Echo
-Credit:Liverpool Echo

Sioned feels she is able to apply what she learned in her degree to make the women in her classes feel better about themselves. She argues many, including her own daughter, have become more confident since taking part in the classes.

The former student added: “I learnt a lot about feminism, sociology and psychology. When you’re working in a position with people, there's a lot of different personalities.

“Everyone’s got their own story. Everyone’s got their own struggles. I feel like people find their own sense of community within the studio.

“There’s one woman I've worked closely with since teaching at home. She's lost five stone. She's like a completely different person. She’s got so much confidence to achieve things she would never do. It makes me feel like I made the right decision.”

Now with her partner Geo, Sioned is excited for what’s to come. She said: “I've got an endless to-do list of things. In the future, I'd like to do more work in the community and offer classes to women on probation.

“I feel really proud of myself. I've come a long way. A lot of people probably had doubts and didn't think I'd achieve anything.”

Pole Dolls is located at 29a to 30a The Marian Square in Bootle. You can find out more here.

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