“I already had experience of volunteering before I applied to the Volunteers Supporting Families project. I had been a mentor for a school programme in Hackney which had been piloting a reading/writing scheme for vulnerable children. I had also attended a school in Hornchurch that had a deaf unit, where I provided support to the children during music sessions. I enjoyed both of these projects, so when they ended, I was keen to take what I had learned into a more challenging situation where I could make a difference.
I began volunteering with Volunteers Supporting Families in Southend on Sea and the first thing I learned was to expect the unexpected. Mum suffered from low self-esteem, had a lack of confidence and some trust issues, so I had to deal with a whole range of emotions. I knew I needed to establish a trust-based relationship with Mum to allow her to become a more responsible parent.
Mum was also suffering from depression and the family unit was generally in need of some guidance and support, especially as there were some historic issues around the absentee Father and Mum’s health difficulties.
I started with small steps to gain Mum’s trust, befriend her and build up a good rapport. Over time, she became much more confident, to the point where she took ownership of her own actions and situations. It has been great to see her grow in confidence and watch her develop a new zest for life.
This experience has helped me improve my communication skills and I have become more open to understanding someone else’s feelings, and to be more empathetic to situations I may not have had experience with personally.
It is lovely that Mum now sees a brighter future for herself and her child. She understands everyone isn’t against her now that she’s had me supporting and empowering her. She is in a much better position now than when I first began volunteering with her and the case has now been closed to children social care.”