Charlotte Beverley’s confidence was on the floor before she received support from Home-Start Greenwich. With the help of a Home-Start volunteer her confidence grew, and later she became a volunteer herself. This experience empowered her to realise she had the skills to build a better life. Charlotte shares her story:

“An abusive relationship left my confidence on the floor. I was nothing like how I used to be and couldn’t see how I’d be able to take back charge of my life. We had various social workers in and out of our home, but it wasn’t until my daughter’s nursery referred us to Home-Start Greenwich that I finally felt supported and that there was someone on my side.

Tina Atley from Home-Start Greenwich helped me to find my strength and to finally start to recognise that me and the kids deserved better than the situation we were in. Tina gave me information on abusive  relationships and how it affects the children. She was an impartial shoulder to cry on. I never felt judged and knew I could contact her whenever things went wrong.

Tina helped me find who I was again and over time I got to a place where I wanted to make a fresh start. My confidence was returning and I felt ready to build a new life.

I’d been a waitress for 15 years, but I wanted to do something that supported families. I decided to become a Home-Start volunteer and completed my 12 week training. 

Once I’d done my training I was matched with a mum who was struggling to engage with services or any form of support. It was nerve-wracking at first. I wasn’t sure how the mum would take to me. The mum viewed Home-Start as a part of social services and was very defensive. Because of what I’d been through I could relate to her. It took a little while but she began to trust me and we built up a good bond.

Like me, she had low self-esteem and confidence. I remember once telling her that in order to be able to look after her children she needed to look after herself, including her own mental health. It’s lovely to be able to see now that she’s in such a good place. I’m so proud of her and what she’s achieved.

Supporting another mum to help spur them on and make them believe they can do it feels so nice. And it really showed me how much we are all capable of if we get a little help when we need it.

Volunteering for Home-Start confirmed to me that I really did want to have a career in working with families.

I took part in the job group run by Hazel Chawapiwa, Head of Community and Partnerships at Home-Start Greenwich (pictured left). It helped me think about all the things I can offer and how to go about building a career for myself. For the first time I felt excited about the future.

One day I was chatting to Hazel Smith, Greenwich’s project manager, who said I’d make an amazing social worker. Hazel made me realise that my experience would help me to be one of the good ones. She old me I had my whole life ahead of me and that I shouldn’t settle. After that she never missed an  opportunity to badger me about Access courses.

With Hazel’s encouragement I enrolled in an Access course and I’m going to be starting university in September to train to be a social worker. There’s no way I’d be on this path if it wasn’t for Home-Start. Even in practical terms I wouldn’t have been accepted on the course without relevant work experience that I got through my volunteering role. Home-Start is so well respected that universities see it as a real asset when you have volunteered for them.

The emotional support from Tina, the practical advice from Hazel Chawapiwa and the self-belief from Hazel Smith paved the way for me to begin a new chapter. I’m really excited about going to university.

I’d never have imagined I’d be in this position a few years ago.”

Healthy Happy Home

Charlotte recently took part in a cooking masterclass with Becca, a chef from Waitrose Cookery School, as part of our new Healthy Happy Home programme which provides online training to volunteers to further support the positive mental and physical health of the families they work with.

The programme has been informed by insights from Home-Start volunteers who said three of the biggest issues families faced were around healthy eating, sleep and finance. 

Charlotte said: “I honestly believe that the Healthy Happy Home programme is going to be so beneficial for our families and volunteers. To have this tool behind us is going to help our families eat healthily, get their children involved and create such a strong bond between our families and volunteers. Everyone wins at the end.”

Find out about how you could become a Home-Start volunteer

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