These are hard words to hear and even harder words to say. Recently put on meds for bipolar disorder, Leanne was finding it hard to cope with her two young boys, especially the youngest who has times of being violent towards her.
Lonely, but struggling to trust people after bad experiences in the past, Leanne found it difficult to open her heart, get past shallow small talk and share deeply about what was happening in her life and the difficulties she was facing.
“I was in a bad place before Safe Families came”, says Leanne.
Eventually she was told by her support worker about Safe Families for Children and she agreed to accept some support from a volunteer Family Friend.
“People told me, ‘you need to learn to trust somebody’, so I let Safe Families in.”
The experience has been really positive for Leanne and she’s meeting the goals that she set at the beginning of support: to make friends, to get out of the house, to learn to do new things, and to do things with her boys. She regularly sets aside time every week to do something with her 3-year-old when he’s not in nursery, and they learn to bake cakes and cookies. Her son recently had a friend over and all three of them were in the kitchen baking.
“For me that’s a big thing”, says Leanne, “I would never have done that six months ago! Never ever ever!”
Safe Families’ Family Friend volunteers are different from the paid professionals in Leanne’s life. With professionals there’s always a line that you can’t cross, explains Leanne, but with “volunteers they may have a profession, but they are volunteering, so you can be friends”.
“[My Family Friend] she never lets us down, she’s always here when she says. I think that’s the most important thing we’ve learned, that we can trust people. They make me stronger, so I’m a stronger mum.”
Not wanting to repeat the same patterns that negatively influenced her life, she wants her kids to see a better standard of life, and that’s what she feels Safe Families has shown her.
Previously a sporadic church attender, Leanne now has a supportive group at church as well as Safe Families help. Church family who are now aware of some of her struggles are able to help her and support her through them.
“We’ve grown as a family [at church] and my kids enjoy going to Sunday school.”
Leanne says the friends and fellowship she has now is just amazing and she’s grown in confidence as a person and as a mum. She regularly gets little encouraging notes and calls to make sure she’s okay. And Leanne is okay.
“I was so close to putting my kids into care because I didn’t think I could parent them. Our standard of life was not the life I wanted to be living.”
“You know, I look at how far I’ve come and I can do it, and I am doing it. And my kids are happy and they’re healthy and they’re loved. I don’t even want to think what life would be like without Safe Families.”
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