The Two Rachels!

Sometimes it is difficult to ask for help as it is human nature to try and cope alone, but sometimes a helping hand can make all the difference.

For one mum of three, Rachel Barritt, 38, who lives daily with a very painful debilitating bone condition, her Home-Start volunteer Rachel Mitchell has been a blessing.

Rachel’s story

I have three children: five-year-old Jack who has a mild form of autism and 20-month-old twins, Todd and Annabelle. Daily tasks can be very challenging and painful for me as I am also in the early stages of osteoporosis, together with arthritis and brittle bone disease. When the children cry it really affects my pain levels too.

I first heard about Home-Start volunteer support when I used to take Jack to Daisy Chain Children’s Centre. I was getting used to being a new mum and things were getting difficult for me. I was finding that I was up and down a lot more and struggling to do simple tasks. My husband is self-employed so he would be working all hours and I didn’t live near my parents. The Health Visitor referred me to Kirsty at Home-Start and I soon had a volunteer to support me in my home.

I felt a bit funny at first as I felt like I should be coping myself but I soon got over that!

I felt a bit funny at first as I felt like I should be coping myself but I soon got over that! It was wonderful having Samantha. She would get down on the floor and play with Jack – I would try to but I was in so much pain and once or twice I even got stuck! She would change him and make me a brew so I could have a break. She was also simply someone to talk to and she would also reassure me that I was doing a great job too.

I was sad when Samantha left to run her own charity but I moved closer to my mum and dad so I had their support too as they are both now retired and wanted to help me with the children.

When the twins were born, I suffered greatly with post-natal depression

I then found out I was pregnant with twins! When they were born, I suffered greatly with post-natal depression, I was absolutely convinced that something bad was going to happen to one of my children but fortunately I recognised that this wasn’t normal and I went to the doctors. My mum and dad were fantastic and they would come and help me each day with the twins and Jack. I also got a new Home-Start volunteer when the twins were 10-month old – Rachel.

Rachel is brilliant. Mostly we tend to do outings as I struggle out and about with the twins as they run in the opposite direction to each other! Rachel is also fabulous with Jack. She comes to my home and does all the running around for me, changes nappies, she even makes me a cuppa! It also allows my mum and dad to have a break from me and me from them.

It’s wonderful just to have someone to talk to - she’s like a little best friend

She’s like a little best friend – she keeps my secrets for me. It’s wonderful just to have someone to talk to. On the days that she comes I am watching the clock until she arrives as I really look forward to her being here – her support makes all the difference.

I don’t think you can understand the power of volunteering until you have benefitted from one yourself. If I was at a loose end and I could do something with my time and I could offer someone a shoulder to cry on and they need a pair of hands, then I would do it. Giving back a little is such a good thing to do. You can’t sometimes afford to support charities but you could give your time. I would be a volunteer if I was able – the idea behind it is fabulous.

Home-Start is such a valuable resource and it’s important!

I just think people need to spread the word about Home-Start – it is such a valuable resource and it’s important. Everyone struggles in some way when they have children and there are some people that struggle that little bit more and need that free support that’s out there. It feels like it is overlooked.

Volunteer Rachel Mitchell, 30, says

I wasn’t sure what I could bring and after a couple of weeks, I found that Rachel was putting up a bit of a ‘front’. She was holding back emotionally and not showing her pain, but we got past that and I can see the difference my support makes. I now feel like one of the family.

You might not think you are giving a lot but once you see how much you can achieve in a couple of hours, you realise you are making a massive change - it’s like having another little family and you get a lot more out of volunteering than you think you will.

As a volunteer, you are matched to a family that would suit you and that would not trigger any personal fears. You have your choices. There are so many people out there that would be good volunteers but perhaps are guarded because of own personal experiences. The Home-Start team is there to support you as a volunteer too.

People don’t realise what they can gain from Home-Start. If you need help, then accept help. Sometimes it’s hard to ask for that help as you feel like you’re being judged. Home-Start never judges!

Posted 9:18 AM | Permalink

TAGS: Home-Start family Home-Start Volunteer Home-Start Bradford Home-Start