I first saw an advertisement in the local paper in June 2005 and was attracted to volunteering for a couple of reasons. Firstly, I felt I had learnt a lot, much of it the hard way since my two year old daughter was born. She had been a shock to my
nicely ordered thirty-something life. My baby was ill at birth and spent the first week of her life in SCBU. The shock was compounded by my husband starting a new job taking him all over the country, my own physical illness anda close bereavement. I struggled with my
feelings about motherhood and did not feel properly bonded with my daughter untilmuch later. Frankly I could have done with a Home-Start volunteer myself at this time.
Another reason for volunteering was my lack of confidence and feeling de-skilled. I also wanted to see if I could work in another area
from my previous professional life. Once the training was over I was thrilled to be matched with a refugee family. I was introduced to a young Sudanese mother and her one year old daughter. Aside from the language and cultural barriers, the mum was young and had suffered many traumas in her homeland. However, I soon got to know her, as her English was quite good and became known as 'Auntie' to her
daughter. My volunteering consisted of visiting them once a week at home for two hours and this included both practical and emotional help.
The work was challenging and very rewarding, but certainly never dull! There was often a crisis that seemed to present itself just as I arrived. Once mum had been duped into buying insurance she couldn't afford. I helped her get her money back. I supported mum with feeding, bathing and positive parenting. I tried to encourage her to play with her daughter although this was not the cultural norm. The child responded positively to everything she was exposed to and seemed bright and happy. Unfortunately, there was a child protection crisis and social services became involved. I would love to say it all worked out, but sadly the child was adopted in the end and after one year my support ended. However, I had learned some valuable lessons and that I carried into my present job.
I now work as a health trainer for the local Primary Care Trust, promoting healthy lifestyles. The training I had at Home-Start and the
awareness of community groups and resources that I gained meant that I was able to get my current post against stiff competition. This training was of an excellent quality and was delivered in an accessible, non-threatening and frequently entertaining way.
"I am unsure what my long term plans are, but working at Home-Start has inspired me to pursue a new career in health and social care."