Picture shows Home-Start volunteer Sue playing with Naneh’s daughter. Her late son’s photo is on the mantlepiece.
We recently heard from a mum we supported a few years ago, expressing gratitude for our support during a very difficult time for the family. Many thanks to Naneh for offering to share her story and experience of Home-Start:
Home-Start: Our Story
When tragedy struck our family, we were expecting our second child. Our first-born, a four-year-old treasure with an angelic face, died in his sleep just two months shy of meeting his sister.
The first year was a fog, but we had my mum’s help with caring for a new baby against the background of loss. Then, my mother, who lives abroad, went back, and it dawned on me that, without many friends and family nearby, a 1:1 ratio is nothing when what you have is an energetic toddler and what you are is energy-sapped and grief-stricken.
How Home-Start helped
I came across Home-Start’s details and, since every little helps, I contacted them. Home-Start Richmond were speedy, and we had an initial visit with a view to be assigned someone suitable to our situation.
That someone suitable was a mature lady, a grandmother and former pre-school teacher, as well as an author, but she told us to call her Sue. She came at a set time every week and was tactful, attentive and calm. She was with us for around a year, and we still remember her with fondness and gratitude.
The great thing about it was, as a Home-Start volunteer, she was impartial, free, and there for a specific purpose, so you don’t have the usual guilt about taking advantage of friends or over-burdening family. Sometimes we had conversations, which distracted me or opened a window on the outside world that I’d shut away from, and sometimes I would leave her with my 18-month-old and take to my room. I appreciated the fact that there was someone who went at my little one’s pace, who sat through her pressing random buttons on toys and taught her nursery rhymes.
A lot of people in acute difficulty find that it’s sometimes the trivial things, such as doing your nails, that can anchor you and give you a sense of achievement in an otherwise directionless day. Other times, it could be the simple act of washing-up whilst listening to the radio.
How our volunteer helped me and my daughter
Sue understood that and was there to take over the play with our daughter whilst I cleared and calmed my head. Her input into my daughter’s early years cannot be quantified, as her help to us as a family. Beyond the simple fact of having regular chunks of time thanks to a Home-Start volunteer, I learnt a lot from Sue. She calmly got me to question my self-doubt and self-imposed pressure and reassured me in a lot of subtle ways that we were OK, and that in the circumstances we were doing well enough.
I believe in the ethos of Home-Start – it’s about helping adults through spending time with children. When in unusually stressful circumstances, you’ll be better able to cope with your daily routine, given the chance to re-charge. And it’s fabulous to know that your child’s had stimulation and attention whilst you’ve caught up with things.
If you know anyone who needs help, or if you would like to offer support, please do not hesitate to contact us on 020 8487 8500 or firstname.lastname@example.org