“I would have sunk without Home-Start”
Neha is a mum of two little boys. Several years ago she heard the news that no one ever wants to hear. She was seriously ill with a brain tumour…
The same year that Neha was diagnosed, her own mum was also suffering with cancer, and sadly passed away. Left on her own with little or no practical and emotional support, and bringing up two small children, took its toll, and Neha turned to Home-Start for support.
After her diagnosis, Neha needed to have two operations to remove the tumour, and had to have daily radiotherapy. Every day for two months, Helen, one of her two Home-Start volunteers went with her.
It was one of the most difficult times of her life, and Neha knew how much it was affecting her children.
“Both my volunteers were amazing. They provided a mechanism for our family to survive and they maintained some level of normality for my eldest son.”
Jasmine’s story – “I will never forget Home-Start and what they did for me and my family.”
Leaving behind your family support networks is hard enough, but when you are fleeing domestic violence and moving to a new city with five children, life can be really tough.
Jasmine was referred to Home-Start just before Christmas in 2013. One of her children was due to have surgery the following month, and she had no one to turn to. No one to support her with the hospital visit, or to help her with her other children.
One of Home-Start’s targeted support workers attended the hospital appointment, not only to offer emotional support to Jasmine, but to give some practical help with two of Jasmine’s other children (who also had to attend the hospital appointment too).
This was a difficult and worrying time for Jasmine, but she had put all of her trust and faith into Home-Start. As she went down into the theatre with her young daughter, Jasmine knew her other two children were in safe hands, (one of which has severe autism), with Home-Start.
Jasmine said: “I really want to thank them from the bottom of my heart. Without Home-Start I really do not know what I would have done, how could I have gone to theatre with my child without someone to look after my other children? I knew no one and felt very vulnerable, I trusted my Home-Start support worker as I knew she was a parent too.”
Two years on and this family have grown in confidence so much. Jasmine now drives and her children have been settled into school and life in Birmingham.
Finding out you are pregnant un-expectantly can be hard enough, but when you are also suffering from epilepsy and you need constant supervision, parenting can be very tough and put a huge emotional strain on you. And that’s what happened to Allie.
Allie and her son were living with her parents, there were inevitable tensions and strain as the whole family came to terms with this life-changing experience. Despite her epilepsy, and the need to follow set procedures, Allie had always attended main stream school and college, so the restrictions now placed upon her due to the constant need for supervision with her young son in case of an epileptic episode had a dramatic effect on her, with very low confidence and a greater dependency on her parents.
Home-Start matched Allie with a volunteer who helped her get out of the house with her young son, building her confidence and offering advice and support in helping her make her own decisions as a new parent.
Over the past 2 years Allie has come a long way. She has attended college and her volunteer’s role at that time was to take her and meet her from college, Allie has now successfully completed her course.
In September 2014, Allie’s little boy started school and Home-Start worked intensively with the family to help Allie to drop him off and pick him off from school.
Allie has come a long way since those early days. She has begun socialising with friends and a degree of normality is slowly coming back into her life. In November Allie even completed the Home-Start volunteer preparation course and will be helping support other families at Home-Start’s Family Group in January 2016.
Home-Start has been on her journey with her, and her volunteer support has allowed her to grow in confidence and improve her self-esteem.
Fatima was referred to Home-start by her health visitor. She was a lone parent and as a refugee had no immediate access to public funds.
Due to a severe lack of money, Fatima’s children were put on a Child In Need Plan. Every fortnight, Fatima had to travel across Birmingham to receive payments from her social worker so that she could pay her bills and buy some food for her little boys.
Fatima’s situation was so dire, she was even having to sell household items to feed her children.
Home-Start provided Fatima with a home-visiting volunteer and made referrals to the local food bank, and provided clothing, a moses basket and a pram- all essential items that parents need for their children.
Life got worse for Fatima when she was evicted from her flat, and moved into temporary accommodation. She stayed in one bedroom with the boys, a double bed, bunk bed and not a lot of room for much else.
Over the coming months Fatima moved a further two times, living in dirty and cramped conditions. She had problems receiving her post and her benefits were proving difficult to sort out, but throughout all this time, Fatima remained a brave and strong individual.
Finally in December 2015 Fatima was offered a house. Home-Start provided the family with a few of the essentials- bedding, curtains, and toys for her children. The family have come a long way since those early days, nobody can fully understand the horrors that refuges witnessed, but though Home-Start help and ongoing support from a volunteer, Fatima is beginning to finally put her past life behind her.
Rosie’s story – “Home-Start is the agency that I prefer working with, as they have the best
understanding of my needs.”
Being a young mum to two small children can be challenging enough, but when you have survived cancer twice, (and had no idea if it will return), life can become extremely daunting.
Due to extensive chemotherapy treatment, Rosie’s heart has been weakened, she has recently suffered from pneumonia, and to make matters worse, she had to have her leg amputated as a result of cancer.
Rosie is 21 and has very little family support in place.
Home-Start has provided a package of care, working with other agencies who are also supporting Rosie. Home-Start supports Rosie with hospital visits for herself and for her youngest child who has developmental delay, support her with routines for her children and offer a great deal of emotional support too.
Rosie is planning on resuming her ambition of attending University and achieving a degree to enable her to work to support herself and her children in the future.
Imagine being kept prisoner in your own home?
That’s exactly what happened to a mum of four children supported by Home-Start.
Yasmin spent all of her time being kept in one small bedroom, she was only allowed out at night when the rest of the family had gone to bed. She then had to clean the house and prepare meals for the family the following day. All of the food was monitored and she was not given any for herself or her children. She survived by taking the leftovers that the family had not eaten, sometimes taking them out of the bin.
The children were allowed to attend school, but had to be out of the house before the rest of the family awoke and when they returned from school, they had to go to the bedroom. The family had no TV or radio. No computer or phones.
When Yasmin’s sister-in-law hit her daughter for being downstairs when she should have been in the bedroom, Yasmin decided that she needed to escape. She had always been told that if she left, the children would be put into care and she would be put in prison.
Yasmin went to the school for help and they sent her to the police station. The police visited the property, but her family had left.
The family were referred to Home-Start at a TAF (Team Around the Family) meeting and Home-Start have supported both Yasmin and her eldest two children with counselling.
Home-Start has also helped Yasmin with applying for support with housing and benefits, provided food parcels, toys for the children and equipment for the house. The family have access to a television and are in temporary accommodation.
When the day comes where Yasmin has been permanently house, Home-Start will provide the family with a volunteer.
The Six Home-Starts across Birmingham are :-