Home-Start supports many families who are facing difficult life circumstances; anything from coping with drug or alcohol dependency, fleeing domestic violence or dealing with social care involvement in the family. Many families have to cope with several issues at the same time. Having a Home-Start volunteer stops them from reaching crisis point
Lisa turned to Home-Start because she wanted to give her youngest daughter the best start in life.
Lisa is mum to three children; her daughter Elliah, three, is her youngest. Home-Start has been supporting Lisa’s family for more than two years now, through home visits and a family group. Lisa came to Home-Start because she was feeling isolated and felt that she could become a better parent to Elliah if she had support.
Lisa has had difficulties with drugs and alcohol in the past and felt that this had stopped her being the best parent that she could be to her two older children. She recognised that she had made mistakes, but wanted to move on, knowing that she might need a little help along the way. Being brought up in care meant that she had no family to turn to. She knew that she would need to make some new friendships to help her change her life around, so she came to Home-Start.
To begin with Lisa was matched with Helen, a volunteer in her early sixites. Helen became an important figure in Lisa’s life, almost the mother that Lisa had never had. The support that Helen offered Lisa began to pay off, with Helen being able to show Lisa that trusting people and forming new friendships would be a positive impact on her life.
Even the simplest things made a difference to Lisa. Helen began to show Lisa how to cook simple meals, even going round to the family’s home on Christmas day to help prepare the lunch – something that Lisa had never done before. Being brought up in a children’s home meant Lisa had never experienced her own mum showing her how to cook; meals had simply appeared on the table. With Helen’s help Lisa was starting to make small but important changes to her life.
Sadly Lisa was re-housed, meaning that Helen was no longer able to visit her. Whilst waiting to be matched to her new volunteer, Lisa began to attend a Home-Start family support group. Coming to the group meant that Lisa was able to make new friendships with other parents and Elliah was able to play, have fun and learn to share with other children.
Earlier this year, Lisa was matched to her second volunteer, another Lisa. As both of them were a similar age they formed a close bond with Lisa the volunteer being able to offer Lisa the mum emotional support; helping her to work through her lifestyle and health issues. Lisa is no longer using alcohol as a way of coping. She is now much more confident and able to cope with everyday situations.
Lisa has come a long way since arriving at Home-Start’s door. Not only has she spoken at her local Home-Start’s annual general meeting, but she has taken an active role in the family support group, encouraging other parents to join in.
When Elliah starts school, Lisa is hoping to become a Home-Start volunteer. She says that she wants to ‘give something back’ to a charity that has helped her turn her life around.