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Home-Start Better Start volunteer support during lockdown

2 June 2020

Phoebe*, 26 had never felt so alone. She had left her family and friends in Huddersfield to move to Bradford with her husband and their two young sons aged two and three. Then COVID-19 struck! Thankfully Home-Start Better Start have been able to offer Phoebe ongoing support over the phone.

Phoebe’s Story

When we moved to Bradford, I didn’t know the area at all or what was available for families with young children. Even though my husband grew up here, he didn’t know anything about any services that were available or activities for young children.

I did not have the confidence to go out and make new friends. I knew there were lots of young families in the area as I would see them out and about, but I just could not bring myself to ask anyone about local groups. I also felt uncomfortable travelling with two children under the age of three alone, which I felt was inhibiting their development.

It was also very difficult at home, my husband works during the day and I was finding it hard to carry on doing housework such as ironing, cleaning and sometimes I couldn’t even cook or shower. The children need constant supervision. They are both toddling, and they get all over the place – I can’t even leave them for a moment!

I told my Health Visitor that I was feeling quite down.

When my Health Visitor visited, I told her that I was feeling quite down and that my elder son was having huge separation issues. He had found the move very difficult as he had been very close to my family back in Huddersfield. My Health Visitor told me about Home-Start Better Start and made a referral. Not long after, one of their Family and Volunteer Co-ordinators, Julie came out to meet me to find out more.

Julie was lovely, she had such a soothing, calming tone and made me feel at ease. She told me how they help families just like mine by providing a volunteer to come and visit me in my own home to do activities with the children, have a listening ear and that they would be able to tell me what help and groups are available in the area for us. It sounded like just what I needed.

But then COVID-19 happened! Julie reassured me that I would still get support from a volunteer, but that it would be via phone calls while we were in lockdown.

We had so much to talk about that we went over our time!

When my volunteer, Amanda, rang me the first time, we had so much to talk about that we went over our time and she was on the phone for over three hours. It was just so nice to have someone outside of friends and family to talk to as you don’t always want to worry them. I felt at ease telling Amanda my worries without feeling judged.

I simply feel supported and Amanda has kept me going through lockdown. It is so refreshing having another mummy tell you that there is nothing perfect about parenting!

Home-Start Better Start also directed me to lots of activities and ideas online to help keep my children entertained. We have loved trying out the nature activities that the Get Out More: Forest Schools Play Project have been sharing – I can’t wait to go out and buy a bug viewer! We also watch the Better Start Imagine story time sessions – I have even started reading differently to my children in a much more animated way, I felt really silly at first, but my children love it.

Before chatting to Amanda, I didn’t think the home environment was stimulating enough, but thanks to everything online I have found lots for us to do. I have even bought myself a printer and printed off colouring sheets for us to do. I am going to print off photos of me and my husband and cut clothes out of a fashion magazine for the children to dress us up! My creative side is coming out and I am finding that quite therapeutic.

Although I haven't physically met my volunteer yet. I don't feel as alone.

Although I haven’t physically met Amanda, yet, I don’t feel as alone. Just by her talking with me and listening to me, she has really given me more confidence in my parenting. Because I have had such a great experience over the phone, I can only imagine how fabulous the face-to-face support must be.

I would really recommend other mums and parents to reach out to Home-Start Better Start during this really stressful time.

*names and identifying details have been changed to protect the privacy of individuals.

About Home-Start Better Start

Home-Start Better Start provides peer support, friendship and practical help to families with children aged under four and during pregnancy. Families are matched with a volunteer who will come into the family home to offer understanding, reassurance, a listening ear and an extra pair of hands to help families cope with everyday situations.

If you are a parent with a child under four, and are finding things tough at the moment, you can ask for free help by contacting the Home-Start Better Start team. Contact Home-Start Better Start by telephone on 01274 666711 or by email at [email protected].

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Home-Start Better Start - Information for Families

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