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I was a homeless mother of two with 20p in my bank account

A single mother of two has revealed how she turned her life around by starting her own business.

Caroline Strawson, 48, was left homeless in 2013 but now lives in a £600,000 house and sends her children to private school after turning her side business into a million pound business.

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Now Caroline and her two children, aged 14 and 17, can live comfortablyCredit: PA Real Life
Caroline's £1.3million business has seen her buy a family home worth £600,000

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Caroline’s £1.3million business has seen her buy a family home worth £600,000Credit: PA Real Life

Caroline, who lives in Northampton, hit rock bottom in April 2013 when her house was repossessed after she failed to pay her mortgage.

The distraught mother did not know where the money would come from to pay for her children’s dinner.

Finding herself homeless with two children, Caroline was forced to ask her father, John Hovland, 81, a retired chemical engineer, to be her surety so she could rent somewhere and put a roof over them. head.

Now Caroline is a hugely successful trauma therapist and divorce coach, living with her two children William, 17, and Maddie, 14, and her second husband, Simon, 51, a mortgage broker.

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‘I still have to pinch myself sometimes’ She said: ‘I can’t believe this is my life, I’m amazed that in 2013 I was homeless with two children when I look at the contrast to my life now.

“I offer healing and coaching programs to help people move on from their past and in the last year alone my business has had a turnover of £1.3m.

“But there were times when things were at their worst when I looked at my bank account and there was literally 20 pence in it.

“I was like, ‘How am I going to feed my kids?’

“I always made sure to cook them solid meals with whatever I could find in the kitchen, but I lived on a piece of toast so we could get by.

“I remember kids would sometimes find pennies on the floor and give them to me to try and help out.”

Caroline’s nightmare began in 2009, after her mother Linda Hovland died suddenly, aged 68, of an aneurysm.

She said: “Things started to go downhill in 2009. I had four miscarriages before I got pregnant with my daughter.

“My mother died very suddenly that year and soon after my first marriage fell apart.

“I was a full-time mum at the time, focusing on raising the kids, and all of a sudden I had a mortgage and bills.

“It goes without saying that I couldn’t follow them.”

Caroline’s house was repossessed in April 2013 after she was unable to make her mortgage payments.

She said: ‘I was homeless with two children and felt mortified.

“I ended up having to ask my dad to be my guarantor so I could rent somewhere, which I found so inconvenient.”

At rock bottom, she admits to feeling suicidal, but continued for her children.

“Even on the nights when I couldn’t afford to eat and felt like it would never get better, I knew I couldn’t give up as long as my two children depended on me.”

Caroline started looking for work, but also tried her hand at starting her own business to earn extra money.

She said: “It started as a small home-based business at the end of 2013.

“It was a network marketing business that I started using Facebook. It worked well for me because I could hide behind a screen because I was really dealing with anxiety.

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“The only reason I didn’t become agoraphobic was because if I didn’t take my kids to school, no one else would.”

Perseverance quickly allowed Caroline to turn the page and her business provided her with a stable income.

“Then, as I got to know the people I worked with, I realized that many of them suffered from trauma from past relationships and, with a divorce under my belt, I wanted to be able to help them.”

Deciding to retrain as a therapist, after graduating in 2017, Caroline began setting up a free counseling group alongside her paid counseling work.

She said: “I wanted to help people in any way I could, so I’m now a certified divorce coach with a background in psychotherapy.

“I have a Facebook group of over 24,000 women that I help for free and I have a podcast that is free to listen to and has had over 1.7 million downloads in the last 18 months.

“I also offer paid healing and coaching programs to help people move on from their past and in the last year alone my business has had a turnover of £1.3m. I also employ eight people now, which is amazing.

But it’s not just her clients who have benefited from Caroline’s new career path, she also says her children have noticed a marked difference in their mother.

She said: “‘I look at old photos and I don’t even recognize the woman I was.

“There’s an old photo of me wearing a gray tracksuit and I remember very clearly that I felt so low at the time, I just wanted to be invisible. I don’t feel that way anymore.

“I’m building a legacy for my kids now, so they never have to go through what I went through.”

She said: “Last year I bought a £600,000 house entirely in my name.

“Sharing this exciting moment with my children was wonderful. I think it really opened their minds to what is possible in life.

“My kids are also seeing what’s possible with the money I have now, with the people I help and the charities I donate to and that makes a really big difference.

“It’s great that we can have a great vacation and do great things. They have had a private education and they will go to university, which is great.

“But it’s important that they realize that the money we have has given us security and that they also see the good that we can do with it.

“I’m always reinvesting and looking for ways to help and support others as well.”

Ironically, while accompanying the women through the divorce, Caroline found love again – marrying her second husband in 2018.

She said: “I met my husband Simon on the dating app Plenty of Fish and we hit it off. He has three kids from a previous relationship and was really family oriented.

“My kids adore her, which was so important to me. We got married in 2018.

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“I feel a new joy in life that I thought I would never find again.

“I rebuilt my life from scratch and it’s amazing to be self-taught.”

In 2013, the single mother of two was left homeless

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In 2013, the single mother of two was left homelessCredit: PA Real Life
Now Caroline and her second husband Simon can enjoy holidays abroad without worrying about when the next meal for the children will arrive.

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Now Caroline and her second husband Simon can enjoy holidays abroad without worrying about when the next meal for the children will arrive.Credit: PA Real Life

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