Tanya Marshall, 32, is one of our Home-Start Better Start volunteers. She completed their Volunteer Preparation course in Spring 2019. In this blog Tanya shares how volunteering has increased her confidence and helped her with her own anxiety issues.
I love volunteering for many reasons. The biggest factor for me is wanting to help out in the local community, but also, volunteering gives you great experience to help improve your job prospects.
I used to volunteer with Action for Children, but when that role became unavailable I started looking for another volunteering role to support young families. My mum, who is a Family Support Worker, recommended Home-Start Better Start to me which seemed to ‘tick all of my boxes’.
“Some of the things that we learned were quite ‘hard-hitting'”.
I attended their fabulous 10-week Volunteer Preparation course which was full of information to arm me with everything I needed to start volunteering. Some of the things that we learned were quite ‘hard-hitting’ especially during the safeguarding session, but everything was of great benefit to the role.
All the trainee volunteers got along so well and we still all chat as a group on WhatsApp and share our experiences to learn from one another.
I was very nervous when I met my first mum, Aisha*. I am quite an anxious person and Jane Lawton, my Home-Start Better Start Volunteer Co-ordinator thought I would be a great fit for Aisha as she was also a very anxious person.
“We were the perfect pairing!”
She was right, we were the perfect pairing! Aisha soon felt comfortable with me knowing that I could completely empathise with her anxieties and worries – it made her feel less alone knowing that I know what anxiety feels like.
Aisha had high levels of anxiety and she would tend to overthink everything. For example, she would worry whether she was feeding her family too much, she would worry about the house being messy and all sorts of things and this impacted on her enjoying her new baby.
It was also challenging for Aisha to get out and about as she had to take the eldest child to school in the morning and pick him up later and then the baby would sleep between 12-2.00pm so it restricted her day.
“I was able to reassure Aisha that she was doing a great job.”
I was able to reassure her that she was doing a great job and listen to her worries. I would take her shopping, sit with the children when she had appointments, such as going to the doctors, and I would also provide a lot of emotional support.
It was so rewarding for me when I could see over the weeks that Aisha was getting calmer and a lot less anxious. It gave me such a confidence boost and showed me that the support I was providing was really making a difference.
“I love being part of the Home-Start Better Start team.”
I love being part of the Home-Start Better Start team. They are so supportive and are always on the end of the phone if I need advice or support with anything that I ask of them.
I would really recommend volunteering for Home-Start Better Start. Through supporting families, not only have I grown in confidence, but I am learning new approaches on how to deal with things. I am also less anxious and even though I will be nervous meeting new families, I know that the support we provide as Home-Start Better Start volunteers works and makes a massive difference!
*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 peer supporter 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 interested in volunteering, then Home-Start Better Start have a new Volunteer Preparation course starting on 26 February 2020. Find out more here.
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 details can be found on our projects page.