“I was at the end of my tether. I don’t know what I would have done without Safe Families.”
Following a non-accidental injury, at 18 months Charlie and his sister Fay came to live with his grandparents. Fast forward three years and the grandparents were really struggling with Charlie due to attachment issues and suspected ADHD.
In desperation and afraid her own mental health was breaking down, grandmother Laura phoned social services and asked for help. When a social worker came to visit them Laura explained that as much as she loved little Charlie to bits, she didn’t think she could cope with him much longer.
“Basically I felt like I was going to have to give him up. I didn’t want to!
“I was desperate and at the end of my tether. I felt that if I didn’t get some help soon that I would go under and the children would be in care anyways.”
Laura was especially worried because she was afraid she might have to give both children up if they thought Charlie was too much for her to cope with.
“I didn’t know if they’d let me keep Fay. I thought they might say, ‘If you can’t cope with Charlie you can’t cope with Fay either. We don’t want to separate siblings.’ That’s why it was so desperate, I didn’t want to give them up but my own health was suffering…really I had to make a decision about something.”
Social services were keen to help and found a more appropriate school for Charlie and an Educational Health Plan. The early help worker directed the family to Safe Families for additional support.
Offered overnight respite care for Charlie, Laura was overjoyed. “I thought this was amazing. I couldn’t think of anything better. Because I didn’t want to give the children up. So that’s what happened. Safe Families managed to find volunteers quite quickly. We were introduced and they were really lovely and got on with Charlie really well.”
The volunteers took Charlie for four nights to allow Laura and her husband to go to a counselling retreat centre.
“It was absolutely marvellous…Prior to those 4 days, we’ve not had any time to ourselves for nearly 4 years!”
“Before I had no hope…Now I feel I’m understood and people realise how hard it is. Actually, it’s made me feel that given the chance that I would want to give back and do something similar myself because I know how desperate a person would be to get to this stage.”