I began to struggle after my baby was born and was referred to Home-Start by my Health Visitor. I had never heard of Home-Start before. The co-ordinator got in touch and came out to see me and to discuss how they could help. I had to wait a few weeks and then my volunteer was brought to my house to meet me.
Panic attacks and anxiety
I was suffering from panic attacks and anxiety so I needed someone to help me to get out of the house and ‘out of myself’. I needed someone to talk to that I didn’t know on a personal level. She encouraged me to leave the house and came with me to various places. We then went to our local Sure Start Children’s Centre together which I managed with her help. Both my child and I enjoyed going there.
My volunteer understood me
When I had down times we just talked, just the two of us. She would ask me how I was feeling and was a very good listener. We would talk about my feelings. Sometimes she would telephone me several times between her weekly visits to make sure that I was ok. My volunteer interacted well with the whole family when they were around.
When I was down I didn’t always realise how bad I was but my volunteer did. On one occasion I couldn’t get an appointment at my GP so she went and told them that I needed to see someone and made the appointment for me. When I thought that I didn’t need medication, she helped me to realise that I did and encouraged me to sort out getting repeat prescriptions and going back to my GP when I needed to.
In time, my GP decided that I should see a counsellor, but I wasn’t keen to ‘rake up the past’. My volunteer encouraged me to give it a try and I’m so glad that I did because it has really worked for me. I’ve been able to deal with the issues from my past.
The difference having Home-Start made
I am now seeing my mother again, on my terms so that I can cope. My child has benefitted from her mum’s recovery from depressive illness and anxiety. She doesn’t need to see me how I was sometimes.
I have been able to go out shopping, to the park or to do anything that I want to for a long time now. Last year we all went to the trip that Home-Start put on to Gulliver’s Land which the whole family enjoyed.
I have even got myself a part-time job which I love. I feel so much better. I haven’t felt so good for years.
I needed Home-Start support because I felt alone with 2 little boys, my family being a long way off and my husband working long hours. I was struggling with my youngest son’s behaviour and had no-one to support me.
Home-Start showed me where I could get support from
I had to wait a few weeks before there was a volunteer available but I was signposted to my local Sure Start Children’s centre where I was able to attend a parenting course and found out about other events such as the summer scheme for children with special educational needs that my eldest son attended. I was also supported to attend 2 trips with Home-Start over the summer, whilst I was waiting to meet my volunteer in the autumn.
How my volunteer helped
I have appreciated having someone to talk to about my child’s behaviour. My volunteer has been someone that can see things at ‘face value’; she was unbiased and didn’t just see him as ‘cute’ as his grandparents tend to. My volunteer was ‘grounded’, giving me practical ideas and confirming that I needed to get on top of his behaviour. Not only that she didn’t judge me or ask “why are you doing that?”
We are so different now
We are so different now from when my volunteer started coming. She made me see that I ‘wasn’t quite right’ and the questionnaire that I completed at the Children’s centre seemed to be saying the same thing – that I was ‘on the edge’ all of the time. I realised that I needed to see my GP which is where I got the help that I needed. My youngest son has grown up and changed anyway.
There is no comparing that support that you get from Home-Start with what you get from other people and parents. It’s about finding some support when you are on your own all of the time. Having children is really hard.
I now have the confidence that I can take the boys to the swings, for example. I wouldn’t have done that last year.
–By Claire, Towcester
“I don’t know what I would have done without Janet at times”
“Janet was very helpful; playing with the children and the children loved her. Sometimes, having Jane there meant that I could just get a shower.”
“ It’s like having a friend coming in who I could talk to.”
Home-Start have been absolutely amazing to me and my family during the 4 years that they have supported us through our ups and downs. I first heard about Home-Start from my Health Visitor when I was finding things difficult with a lively 3 year old and twin babies aged 5 months.
I had suffered with depression since losing my own Mum when I was 19 years old and missed her more than ever when my children were born. Having a Home-Start volunteer was like having a new family member. Home-Start were always on the other end of the phone to help if they could.
The volunteers and staff are great and it has been a pleasure to have them in our lives. Without Home-Start I don’t know where I would be today. The praise, support and energy has been outstanding and has helped me to see light at the end of the tunnel. Home-Start does so much in so many ways – I just wish there was a way to pay back what they have given to my family. I could never express my sincere gratitude for what Home-Start has helped us achieve. A massive “thank you” once again.
We were given a Home-Start volunteer after our son was born; he was very ill and in hospital a lot. We had just moved to a new area and I had to give my job up to look after him. I felt very isolated as we didn’t know anyone in the area, found it difficult to go out and about to groups because of my son’s medical condition.
It was such a relief to have our volunteer coming every week, my son needed constant watching it meant I could go and get a shower, sort out appointments, catch up on housework come to medical appointments and most importantly have an adult to talk to that listened and offer advice.
Our time with the volunteer has made me a stronger person and has given me back my confidence to be able to deal with everyday life.
We cannot thank Home-start enough, an amazing charity that offers a weekly support, if things were going badly I always had my Home-Start volunteer to look forward to and help me get through.