Rebecka O’Brien (Becci), 26, is a single mum of two boys with additional needs. She understands how valuable support can be when you are trying to bring up children and has been proud to call herself a Home-Start volunteer for the past three years.
In this blog, Becci shares why her own life experiences made her want to give something back.
“I haven’t had the best start in life and come from a very complicated background. When I was a teenager, a social care worker supported me through some really tough times – they always saw the best in me despite everything and helped me to pass my school exams.
“Thanks to the support of that worker, I have since wanted to pursue a career in the Health and Social Care sector.
“When I had my two sons, I was out of work for a few years while my eldest underwent assessments for autism and my younger son had several health issues. It was my family support worker that told me about volunteering with Home-Start. This was a great opportunity to explore different sides of social care and to give something back and help families as I had been supported through the years.
“Three years on, I have supported many families and all have been very different in terms of their needs. When I start with a family, we make a plan based on what they want from me and I listen and personalise my skills to each family. Some simply want someone to offload to and someone to listen and to empathise with them. I do lots of learning through play with the children – it’s amazing watching them grow and develop in the time we spend as a family. I have also helped signpost families to other support services and agencies.
“I always take ‘baby steps’ with each family to build trust – often it is about helping the family realise that they can do it and cheering them along – it is often that bit of reassurance that goes a long way. The hardest part is leaving a family when they no longer need support but it is fantastic knowing that you have helped a family get to the point where they don’t need you. The best part is looking back to where you start with a family and how far they come and I feel so proud to be part of that.
"Home-Start has helped me so much and I have gained so many different experiences – there are lots of agencies out there I didn’t know existed. Professionally I have progressed and I am currently studying my level five in Leadership and Management.
“I am a single mum of two boys with additional needs. I work and I still find the time to volunteer. Those few hours mean so much more as I know I am giving something back. If anyone out there can spare a few hours a week, they can honestly make a difference – not only to a family but to themselves. Home-Start is a family – we do it because we care.”