Ali first comes to the village when her sister, Rachel, tells her about a cottage for rent in the village. Ali comes to view it and tells Rachel that she really likes it, so they visit Declan Macey and ask if she can rent the cottage. Former occupant, Nicola King overhears and isn't happy when Declan agrees. Ali soon returns to the village with Rachel and her children, Amelia and Sean, to move in but Sean is unhappy when Ali's girlfriend, Ruby Haswell, joins them. While Ali and Ruby are moving their stuff, Sean and Ruby argue about how much life would be better without her around and consequently no one notices Amelia disappearing and is nearly run over by Carl King. Luckily Cameron Murray, catches Amelia before she is harmed. Amelia's family run to her and Ali thanks Cameron for saving Amelia and punches Carl for not looking where he is going. However, Ali later learns that Cameron caused the accident, wanting revenge on Carl, so Ali makes them move furniture into Brook Cottage and both men are surprised to discover that Ali and Ruby are lesbians.
Ali gets a job at the Sharma and Sharma sweet factory and befriends Lisa Dingle. When Lisa learns her daughter, Belle, is seeing Sean, she asks Ali to keep him away. Ali struggles to pay the rent and asks Nicola for an extension, which is refused. Ali and Ruby begin drifting apart and things worsen when Ruby suggests moving back to Hotten. Ruby eventually admits having some savings that she planned to use to move away but Ali accuses her of trying to run away but Ruby insists she wants to stay with Ali and her family and asks Ali to divorce Dan but she makes excuses not to. When Sean asks Ali to read his school project, she reveals that she cannot read or write, admitting that she rarely went to school and the teachers didn't help. Ali is asked to cover for Lisa when she has to collect Samson from school because he is ill and accidentally sends a customer the wrong order. Initially, she blames Lisa but when Lisa is suspended, Ali admits to Jai and Nikhil that she cannot read. They insist she attends an adult literacy course if she wants to keep her job and all goes well until Ali notices another child wearing Sean's trainers and demands he return them. When he refuses, she knocks him over and is removing them herself but is stopped by the staff. The child's parents decline to press charges but the staff ban Ali from the school grounds, so Ruby takes over as Ali's teacher.
In summer 2012, she discovers that Rachel is pregnant and is unsure what to do next. Ali supports her but is frustrated by Rachel's refusal to name the father of her child and when village gossip accuses David Metcalfe, she attacks him in The Woolpack. Rachel, however, is horrified and demands Ali apologise to him in the Woolpack and accept that Rachel will handle the situation her way or she will leave. Ali accepts it reluctantly and is pleased when Rachel moves into Tenant's Cottage in the village. She, Ruby and the children live quietly for a while until Declan's sister, Megan Macey, takes a shine to the cottage and gives them notice to quit as she plans to live there with her son, Robbie Lawson. When Declan learns of this, he is not pleased and tells Megan to withdraw the notice to quit but she and Zak Dingle go to measure up. Ali visits Declan and tells him what has happened and they return to the cotage, just in time to see Rachel slap Megan. Megan threatens to call the police unless Ali and her family vacate the cottage within 24 hours, which they do and move in with Rachel.