Family Stories

Please note that names have been changed to protect the identity of our families.

What families say about Home-Start

 ‘I love Home-Start. All the staff are so warm and friendly’.

‘It was a lifeline to me and really helped me to avoid depression, knowing there was help every week, and I looked forward to company of a lovely kind person’.

‘I was inspired to volunteer myself once children are older’.

‘She gave me lots of confidence’.

Sarah’s Story

‘Debbie is a credit to HS and you should hold on to her with both hands.’

Sarah had suffered from domestic violence, and, struggling with anxiety, insomnia and depression, she was finding day-to-day activities a challenge. She couldn’t keep up with household paperwork and the home environment was chaotic. A Child in Need plan was in place. Sarah’s Health Visitor recognised that she desperately needed help and referred her to Home-Start.  Our volunteer helped her search for new accommodation and get a grant for essential furniture.  A daily routine for mealtimes and bedtimes was put in place and Sarah learnt other essential parenting skills.  As a result, the little girl is less anxious and settling well at school, whilst mum is on top of things and coping far better.

Sally’s Story

 ‘I needed to know what I was going through was normal, to know that people cared; to know that there was help out there’

Sally needed help from Home-Start as she was very isolated. She was separating from her partner, dealing with post-natal depression and trying to look after her autistic 7 year old and baby son.

Her volunteer helped Sally with parenting skills and accompanied her to the local park and other activities. She also provided a good listening ear and emotional support regarding her relationship issues.

Sally’s mental health is now stable and she is now clear of PND. She has become less isolated having made friends at the Home-Start Family Group. Her confidence has increased dramatically and she can now go out with her children on her own.

Lola’s Story

‘I feel that my Home-Start helped save my life. I feel very happy to receive this support.’

Single parent Lola’s volunteer changed her life completely. When they met, Lola was extremely isolated – her English was poor, her youngest child had a serious health problem and her confidence was rock bottom.

During her weekly visits, the volunteer helped Lola to attend medical appointments, sign up to Children’s Centre activities, apply to nursery, join an English class, visit CAB for advice on Disability Living Allowance, apply for a crisis loan to buy her child a coat and sort out the damp problem in her flat. Lola now attends college and both boys are happy at pre-school.

Sandra’s Story

‘It was essential. It was difficult to look after twins with no family around, so to have my volunteer to talk to made a huge difference and helped me to become strong emotionally’.

Sandra had severe post-natal depression and was feeling isolated following the birth of her daughter and then her twins who were born by C-section.

The Home-Start volunteer visited weekly to offer practical and emotional support. She gave respite to mum when recovering from her operation, 1 to 1 time with the toddler and/or the twins, and accompanied the family to Children’s Centre activities – a rare trip out of the house as a family!

Katie’s Story

‘This is such a valuable charity. They have made a significant difference to my life’.

Home-Start helped Katie through a difficult time – she was divorcing from her abusive husband, struggling with her own mental and physical health, living in an ill-equipped home and trying to look after her four children (two teens and two younger).
Her volunteer helped her to apply for a grant to buy a washing machine, to go the Furniture Scheme to buy a second hand bed, to arrange to fix her bathroom leak, to organise support for her troubled teen, plus helped the youngest to get ready for school with educational play and reading help.

Simran’s Story

‘Good experience having Home-Start, played and chatted to child and taught some English words. It was brilliant.’

Home-Start volunteers can offer practical help to families who are overwhelmed. Simran had a lot on her plate: a 5 year old, 2 year old twins and another baby on the way.

The volunteer visited regularly for 2 hours per week, giving practical support, helping mum to attend medical appointments, supporting her application to nursery, encouraging her to attend classes to improve her English and reduce their isolation. The family are now settled into their local community, with the twins enjoying nursery and mum coping well with new baby.

Anne’s Story

I got a lot of useful advice in the form of life experience of the volunteers.’

Anne’s learning difficulties made motherhood a challenge and left her feeling isolated.  Mike had been in care, and in prison, and was wary of dealing with support services. The volunteer helped them both with parenting skills and to access the Family Group. She also encouraged them to work with the Speech and Language services to assist their daughter, whose speech was exceptionally poor.   With Home-Start’s support, the family began to tackle their debt issues, using CAB for advice to secure a grant for fuel debts. Their daughter is making great progress and the whole family is now much more settled and increasingly confident about the future.

Gina’s Story

‘Home-Start came along when I really needed support, company and something to look forward to. ’

Gina, a mum of 4 boys under 10, suffered from agoraphobia. On top of her anxiety and depression, Gina lacked confidence in her parenting skills. Gina’s volunteer helped her after school, always a chaotic time for the family. With much encouragement, Gina eventually managed to visit Mortlake Children’s Centre, which the youngest boys loved.  The volunteer helped Gina apply for nursery funding and, with the Home-Start family co-ordinator, they applied to RPLC for a grant for garden fencing.  The boys were then able to play safely at home all summer long.  With her volunteer’s support, Gina is a more confident parent and her agoraphobia has lessened.

Janine’s Story

‘Excellent. My volunteer is such a support to me, I learnt so much from her.’

Janine, a single mum and the main carer for her own mum, has significant mental health issues due to a past psychotic episode. With no financial or practical support from the father of her child, she was struggling to keep on top of childcare and debt management.

Home-Start is helping Janine long-term; she is supported at meetings with her mental health worker, and the volunteer has introduced her to the local Children’s Centre to reduce her isolation.  With nutritional advice and help with routines, family life is easier and Home-Start’s support to tackle her financial situation means that Janine is now taking charge of her budget and feeling much more positive about her future.

Phyllis’ Story

‘I feel very positive and grateful to Home-Start for helping me in a very difficult point in my life, where I really needed support’

Phyllis was moving into a new flat with her two girls but had no furniture, gas or electricity. She was new to the area and struggling to manage her children’s behaviour during all the upheaval.

Her volunteer helped her to liaise with the utility companies and apply for a grant for furniture. She introduced Phyllis to the Family Group, offered parenting tips, signposted her to Occupational Therapy for her eldest, and helped clear the garden to make a safe play area.

The family is now safely housed, and Phyllis has better coping strategies and parenting skills.