Knowing that I was going to be going in to hospital, this time last year I swallowed my pride and wrote an e-mail to home start asking if I fitted their criteria for a home start helper.
Pressing the send button on that e-mail was one of the best things I did for us as a family, it started a chain of events that led us to Wendy. We are so blessed to have her in our lives, but first let me tell you a little of Home Start and the things they do.
Home start are the UK’s leading family support charity, they help parents with at least one child under 5 in their own homes by providing a support, friendly and practical assistance in their own home.
What they did for me was come and have a chat with me in the comfort of my home, meet with the boys and find out what was going on in our lives and how they could help. What this meant was that they matched us with Wendy, it is and was a perfect match, she is a retired primary school teacher.
She is the most wonderful person I have ever met and she fitted us like an old pair of shoes. She complimented me and she brings out a calmness and joy in the boys.
Since last December she has come to spend at least a couple of hours with us each week. She plays with the boys, she does jigsaws, reads books, sits and helps with homework, gets beaten at monopoly and is more than a Grandma to my children.
When I was at my worst she visited more often, fitting in with when MadDad needed support and assistance. She listened to my mum when she was upset and worrying, she supported the boys and talked through what was happening and why.
She has been there for me at the end of a phone, in times of crisis (she even collected the boys when I had a flat tyre) and just when I wanted a friendly impartial ear.
The last time I went in to hospital she collected the boys from school. She is wonderful in every way.
I was asked this week if I would speak to someone about what home start did for me and I didn’t hesitate. When they asked how I felt about my worker, I replied “I trust her with my children, they are the most important things in my life and I let her look after them without me around, what more can I say”.
She now comes every week as a friend to spend time with me and the boys. The boys light up as soon as the door bell rings and they hold on tight as she is about to leave. I am proud to say that she is my friend, that she is am amazing person and we are all the better off for knowing her and blessed for her being in our lives.
Now I know that I am not what people would class as a typical person needing help from Home start, but appearances can be deceiving. My mother suffers from Rheumatoid Arthritis and my Mother in Law suffers from Lupus, which means that they can not be as hands on with the children as they would like. I was looking for some stability and consistency in the boys life. It was so so hard to say I need some help, but we have gained so much more than I could have ever imagined.
So anyone out there that thinks that home start could make the difference in their life, then please give them a chance, but also anyone out there that feels that they have what it takes to be a home start supporter, then please, please give them a call. It is such a worthwhile cause and once I can I would like to become a helper and give back some of the karma we have received.
I guess what I am trying to say is that sometimes you need to swallow your pride and take a look at what you think you need, evaluate the situation, take a deep breath and do what is best for your family as a whole. Sometimes serendipity just happens and life gets all the better for it.
It is so hard to ask for help – it can feel like admitting defeat. But you've really proved that it's wise and sensible, not defeatist! When I worked for a school which closed down, a number of our infant and nursery staff found new jobs with Leeds Homsetart. I really admired what they did, and I'm really glad to hear about how you and Wendy have been able to work together for the good of your family.
It's good to have support when you need it. So many people wouldn't ask for help when they need it so well done.
Love this post. What an amazing service. I had no idea it existed. How wonderful that Wendy has become a part of your family.
And well done to you for reaching out. It must have been an incredibly exhausting and emotional time for you and I am in awe at your attitude and how you got through it with such young children.
I am also in awe of your craft abilities. It's not like that in my house unfortunately. But maybe I can be inspired by checking in with you regularly… xx
What a lovely post. I'm going to have a look at Home Start tomorrow as I have been thinking about doing some volunteer work when my youngest is a bit older to help me get back into work mode and as a former social worker I'm really interested in working with families and children again. Thanks for this. Its motivated me to have a look and start thinking about it properly. x
It sounds like Wendy was a wonderful find. And well done you for taking that initial step.
Isn't it often true how stepping outside our comfort zone and doing something we find very difficult can often bring the best rewards 🙂 x
Home Start sounds like a wonderful service and you have obviously been very lucky to find someone as special as Wendy.
I had no idea this was available. Thanks so much for sharing this. I too have family that might benefit from this. Thanks again!
Home Start is the most amazing charity. I knew about it because my mum is the fundraising coordinator for Home Start in her region. Having spent much of my time with her over the past few years fund raising for home start it was, in a way, even more of a leap and a swallow of pride when I, too, got in touch with them when S&A were about four months, L was just two and I was losing my marbles. I live in central(ish) London, so when I saw on the website that they don't cover the whole of the UK I didn't even really register it. Except they really don't. They're actually supported by the local council (although I don't fully understand how), and so if the particular local council doesn't use them, then they can't work in that area. My area isn't covered. There is another system, but it's means tested and we didn't fit the criteria. I was totally knocked back by that and resolved to try, once I was more in control of my life, to do something (although I'm not sure what) to make sure that everyone, whether in tube zone 1 or the Outer Hebrides, has access to someone as wonderful as Wendy. I'm not quite there yet, but your great post has reminded me how important it is…
gosh, that's amazing. what an inspiring tale!
I am so glad that you have been able to find the help that you needed at a tough time – it sounds like a really worthwhile organization.
Homestart are a fabulous organisation. Worth donating money to them too, they are a voluntary organisation and always short of money. I've known them for a long time, and if I had the time, would really like to volunteer for them. But I guess I'm doing that in an informal way just now. Thanks for sharing your fabulous experience with them!
Wow! I didn’t even realise they could provide such care. When I had an operation last October my partners parents left someone else in charge of their smallholding and took the 5 hour drive down and stayed with us for a week, but with 6 children to look after it was really hard work and I didn’t really get the chance to take the recovery time I needed. It sounds like such a fantastic thing, and brilliant that you have been connected with such a gem!