Maria’s Volunteer Journey
I’m a former creative copywriter who moved from Bucharest to London at the end of 2014 to pursue the advertising dream. After spending a good ten years in this industry, I found myself asking “is this it?”. So, I left to retrain as a coach, meditation teacher, and now transpersonal psychotherapist. I felt immediately drawn to the mission of supporting families with young children. Even though I was intimidated by the task, the training provided helped me feel prepared and more confident that I have something to offer, and that there are so many wonderful and experienced people to rely on at Home-Start.
I’ve been supporting one family through Lockdown. There hasn’t been a week that I haven’t looked forward to seeing my family. I love volunteering here, and I appreciate the support that Home-Start offers in terms of training and supervision. It’s incredibly meaningful for me, and I’m learning and growing so much as a person from doing this work.
I was surprised by how well my family and I connected over Zoom – we even managed to use the platform to draw with our fingers on the screen, which was quite fun. I do my best to model compassionate listening and creating a safe space for the parent to talk about their real experience of parenting without feeling guilty or ashamed about their feelings… we can be very serious and productive, but there’s always room for laughter and jokes. That’s when I know we’re really connecting.
There are some challenges, of course, and sometimes it’s difficult to not be next to my family so I can lend a hand. But this whole experience showed me how powerful it is to just be there for someone and listen to them non-judgmentally – especially for new mums who, after spending so much time in lockdown with a baby, sometimes just crave chatting to another adult. I’m glad I had this experience, and I can’t wait to meet them in person.
My favourite thing about being a Home-Start volunteer is the feeling that I get at the end of each meeting with my family: a deep appreciation for their vulnerability and their effort to do their best as parents, and the sense that I’ve genuinely helped with that. I’ve found it incredibly rewarding to see my relationship with the family evolve so much over the course of just a few weeks. Even though we’re only meeting on Zoom for now, it’s been so heart-warming to see that the family’s child is eager to see me when we connect. She keeps calling out my name and showing me toys, and my heart just melts. It’s so wonderful to watch this happy little kid grow and learn new things from week to week.
To a prospective volunteer, I would say that it may seem scary at first, especially if you’re not a parent yourself, but trust yourself and the process.