My Safe Families Angels

What happened to me in a second on a rainy Wednesday afternoon at the end of May could happen to anybody.

wet floor x250It was my worst fear… something happening to me that would make it difficult for me to care for my son alone. I slipped in my garden, and knew immediately that it was more than a sprain.

I had to call the paramedics. I’m not local – had in fact just moved into a new area five days previously. My lifelong friends are either in Leicester or London, and my 5 year-old son and I are – through circumstance – kind of alone in the North East, only just starting to get a network of friends and support. Even when the paramedics were speaking to the local walk-in health centre and arranging to pick up my son from his holiday club on the way I was unnerved: the person at the centre stating that if I required treatment or surgery they would have to call in social services to take care of my son. Pretty terrifying.

Luckily, it was a clean break and required only a cast and so we were brought home in a taxi, I crawled on hands and knees over the steps leading into the house and then pulled myself onto my crutches and burst into tears: how on earth was I going to manage on my own with a 5 year-old for possibly 6-8 weeks on crutches and strict instructions to be totally non-weight-bearing?

I managed that night to get dinner sorted, my son bathed and ready for bed and collapsed into bed myself, crying with worry again I’m afraid. I know there are much, much worse things but all things being relative, this was a pretty devastating thing to happen to us.

The next 3-4 days were spent sorting out plans for getting my son to and from school 7 miles away once the half term was over. After countless phone calls to the school, the council, social services, health visitors, it seemed I had little choice but to send my son to school in a taxi without me, as it was impossible physically for me to leave the house. Any parent here tonight will agree that putting a 5 year old alone in a taxi with a stranger feels totally wrong and against everything you do each and every day to ensure your children are safe and feel safe. I did it for 5 days and each of those mornings was terrible until I spoke to the school to confirm he had arrived safely. Added to that daily worry I was stressed about keeping on top of my housework and maintaining the family home in its usual manner.

A health visitor I spoke to happened to mention Safe Families for Children so I Googled it, read the info on the website and – not even sure that I ‘qualified’ for help, thought it would be worth a try. Well, goodness… 3 days  later arrived a team of four women, kettle on, tea made, questions asked, solutions offered and that was that: I had a regular, consistent lift to school every day for my son, and some help with housework sorted; and some company for myself and my son organised. Just like that. My team of angels left that Thursday morning and my whole broken ankle experience changed.

Honestly, I can’t find the words to tell you how much Safe Families for Children helped me. Not just with the actual physical help, although that was invaluable: but the feeling of having that support, that care, that assistance in my hour of need enabled me to get through the 6 weeks without sinking into a horrible depression. All of the Safe Families folks who helped out were so helpful, friendly, kept offering to do more, told me I could ask for anything… luckily I managed pretty well and didn’t need to call on them for any more than they originally arranged to do but knowing they were there was a real emotional support in what could have been a sad, lonely period of time.

I hope you know what a fantastic thing you are doing and how much your help and support will be to somebody who either, just like me, has a temporary blip and needs some support or to somebody who may need longer-term help. And, now I am at the other end of my short but nonetheless difficult period, I feel incredibly thankful for both Safe Families and the group of few people I know locally who really rallied round to help us. I feel less alone so, annoying as it was, my broken ankle has actually had benefits!