Click below to read our family’s stories
*Names and identifying details have been changed
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Sara and Nicky*
Sara was referred by her midwife when she was 4 months pregnant. She was homeless and suffering from depression, and had recently been admitted to hospital because of a suicide attempt. In the lead up to her birth, Home-Start supported Sara to be housed in suitable accommodation and source essential furniture and baby items, such as clothes, a cot, a sling and toys.
Shortly before the birth of her baby, Adam, Sara was matched with a volunteer befriender, Nicky. Nicky supported her to access advisory services to ensure she was receiving the correct benefits and helped to set up payment plans for her debts. She also provided vital emotional support and Sara was able to share her concerns and worries. Sara had never held a baby before and so Nicky supported her to bond with Adam, by modelling interaction and helping her to dress and wash him. Nicky also supported Sara to attend meetings with social services and to feel confident in voicing her needs in those meetings.
Sara is now in a very different place. She has a wonderful bond with her baby and is confident in caring for him and his needs. Although she still struggles with low mood she has said she is far more comfortable in reaching out to appropriate services. She has come in to talk to new HSW volunteers about her experiences and has said that she did not know where she would be without Home-Start support. Sara said Nicky had been like a sister to her and she thought of her like family.
“Thank you so much to all the Home-Start for the wonderful job they’re doing for supporting us as a family… it’s always nice to feel at home and as a family around them, they’re such amazing friendly helpful, professional and wonderful people to work with. Thank you.”
Nadia and Grace*
Nadia was referred to Home-Start by her perinatal mental health nurse, she was expecting her first child and suffered from long term PTSD and depression. She was extremely isolated with no family or friends in London, and was very worried about being able to bond with her unborn baby. Home-Start initially supported Nadia to prepare for the birth, suggesting local ‘mums and bumps’ groups, referring her for a volunteer Doula to support her through the birth, and helping her to get essential baby items including a cot and buggy.
When Nadia’s baby, Amelia, was 3 weeks old she was introduced to a volunteer befriender, Grace. Since then Grace has visited most weeks, initially building a relationship with Nadia and baby Amelia at home, offering a listening ear and reassurance to mum’s anxieties, and helping Nadia to recognise the wonderful bond she had been developing with Amelia. Once Nadia was more confident to go out and about Grace began to introduce her to local community and children’s centres, in particular to a parenting support group at a local community centre.
In a recent conversation Nadia got very emotional when talking about how much Grace and Home-Start’s support has helped her, both in having a friendly face to talk to each week, and also in the local services it has helped her to access. Through attending the local parenting group Nadia has found an additional therapeutic support group, and she is developing great relationships other local mums, building up her local support network. Grace continues to visit Nadia and Amelia on a weekly basis.
Alice and Matt*
Alice was referred to Home-Start by her health visitor for support with her 18-month old twins. Her husband worked full time and she had been signed off work due to severe back pain and was struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder from an accident during her pregnancy. She had no friends or family in her area and had gone from being in a successful job every day to being unable to get out of the house alone with her active twins due to her back-pain.
Alice was introduced to a volunteer befriender, Matt, who visited once a week for 2 hours. Matt introduced the family to local parks, museums, and the nearby children’s centre drop-in and library. He also offered vital emotional support to Alice, who was facing lots of difficulties with her employer and was struggling with the impact that motherhood had had on her life.
Matt noticed a change in the children after just a few weeks. From initially having no awareness of danger and others around them, both twins soon became much more confident to approach and play alongside other children, as well as both gradually becoming more adventurous and exploring new play areas independently and safely. Alice also fed back that Matt’s visits not only gave the twins a chance to get out and about and explore new places, but also gave her some time to speak with a caring friend about the difficulties she was having. Matt’s support and gentle encouragement gave her greater confidence to face her challenges with her employer and attend drop-ins with her children more frequently.
After 8 months Alice returned to work part-time, and with the twins enrolled in nursery and Alice feeling much more confident to take them out alone, Matt’s befriending visits ended.
I’ve been [in the] middle of my life crisis and struggles. By meeting the right people, getting brilliant advice and help in a lovely, warm and friendly atmosphere, I got my life back on track. I’m greatly thankful from all the people that helped me to get back to my right path of life.
I feel more in control, I don’t feel sorry for myself, I am able to ask my husband to stay with the children for an hour, while I go for a walk to breathe, I feel empowered by the volunteer’s constant encouragement.