Helen is mum to two little girls, Jessica and Isabella. She first heard about Safe Families when she was separating from her partner and trying to move house. Without any wider family in the area it was a difficult time for Helen and the children. Isabella has additional needs and needed a lot of attention and supervision, which meant that Jessica was often put to one side. Helen felt like she was really struggling to give Jessica adequate one-to-one time.
“My time was very much focused on Isabella and her needs”, says Helen. “And as much as I tried to split myself I’m one person trying to do as much as possible.”
Helen contacted the council and asked for an assessment. The lady who came to access the family suggested Safe Families might be the way forward and a volunteer named Joy was found to spend time with Isabella so Jessica had some one-to-one time with her mum, which they both love.
“Having Safe Families for Children being there to be able to give me that time with Jessica is invaluable. I couldn’t put a price on it.”
Helen describes Joy as “an angel from heaven”, saying, “I didn’t feel guilty or worried about where Isabella was or who she was with and I could actually not feel guilty about spending time with her sister Jessica.”
Jessica says, “Me and my Mum go out, like into town or play in the garden. It makes me feel really happy.”
Joy admits that at first she was daunted by the nature of the request for help. “I knew it was for someone to take Isabella out and I knew she had a wheelchair and I have a very small car and I thought, ‘That’s no good! I can’t fit wheelchair in the car or get special seat in back.’ And then I thought, ‘Well, I can focus on what I can’t do or I can think about what can I do.’ So the next conversation I said, ‘I can take her out walking or play with her in the house to free up Helen to go out with Jessica. If that works for Helen that’s fine with me.'”
Although Joy’s main objective was to support Isabella to allow Jessica and Mum some time, the entire family has bonded with Joy. Once the children were tucked in bed Joy and Helen would sit and have a cup of tea and “a little chat”.
For Helen, support has made a big difference. “I see our future much brighter. I know that’s a bit of cliché but we’re now in our home we have a true friend that we’ll have for life…We were in the hardest time and just that bit of support – even for me, having someone to talk to – was the best thing!”
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