In this weeks blog, Jude, our Poet-In-Residence, talks about a visit to one of Home-Start’s Family Support Groups.
Our Family Support Groups offer a safe space for isolated families to come together and develop friendships and a peer support network. Sometimes, when life throws you too many curveballs, you can lose confidence and taking your children out to meet others feels like a real challenge. Home-Start groups offer families a space where they can develop their confidence again, free from judgment or criticism.
The Family Groups, which are supported by volunteers, feel safe and calm and offer families the chance to take the first steps to build links within their own community.
No one knows what is around the corner, sometimes we all need a bit of friendly support.
Sarah, Scheme Manager
Visiting a Home-Start Family Group session
Before the pandemic hit, I visited one of Home-Start’s Family Support Groups and enjoyed chatting to some of the parents as well as some of the volunteers.
It was much like many of the toddler groups I used to go to when my children were at that stage, and it took me flooding back to that time, and the feelings I had. So many of the things the parents mentioned I could identify with. Feeling like other parents were judging my child for his or her behaviour. Feeling like I wasn’t coping with life whilst it seemed everyone else was. Feeling utterly, totally, indescribably exhausted yet still being responsible for two precious and vulnerable little lives.
It’s perhaps a very obvious thing to say, but it made me realise that the parents and families being helped by Home-Start are actually just like me.
They have similar issues and problems, comparable feelings of insecurity, stress, self-doubt, fear, anger. A sense of being overwhelmed that I still very much recognise.
The differences, I think, are in the degree or intensity of the problems, and in the relative lack of support in the places and times, it’s needed.
At the time, life had thrown me a curveball – an unexpected, problematic turn – but it only threw me one. My family stability, finances, my relationship with my husband, our employment, the support I receive from my own parents, my supportive friendships, the health of my children and their school arrangements – all these things are unchanged.
Imagine if they all changed at once.
Or if some of them had never been there at all.
I feel I have a new understanding of how easily any of us can be swayed in life, and also of what a massive difference it makes having someone there for you when you need them. It’s really the one secret ingredient that makes all the difference.
One parent I met was near the end of her engagement with Home-Start. Having attended the Family Support Group and worked with a volunteer, she now had the ability in herself and her circumstances not to need Home-Start support anymore. Their support had enabled her and her partner to overcome a number of significant, complex and intensive issues, to regain their own confidence, and to build a life with supportive friendships around them.
After telling me her story, she simply said, “it’s amazing what you can do with the right support.” Those words have been ringing in my ears all week.