Jess was struggling with ADHD and depression when she fell pregnant at 17. With her confidence at an all-time low, she was finding life overwhelming, until she was offered Home-Start support. 

With the help of her volunteer, Jess regained her confidence and turned her life around. This is her story:

"I was 17 when I found out I was pregnant with my daughter. When my daughter arrived I didn’t really feel much of anything. Just sort of empty, numb. My midwife was concerned about my mental health and asked if she could refer me to Home-Start Winchester. I wasn’t that bothered about being referred and couldn’t see how they could help me.

Home-Start matched me with Kat, a home visiting volunteer. Straightaway Kat was so instinctive and appeared to know what I needed even before I did. We talked about everything, and when I broke up with my boyfriend, she helped me to heal. I suffer from social anxiety and found going out hard".

Rebuilding confidence 

"I didn’t have many friends, but going out on walks and trips with Kat, opened up my eyes to the value of friendships and how they add so much joy to life. Kat was keen that I went to baby groups, to make some mum friends. She came to groups with me for the first couple of weeks, until I found my feet and was able to go it alone.

When I did something on my own Kat really celebrated it. Every time she praised me, I felt so proud. I didn’t realise it at the time but everything she was doing was building up my confidence. During one conversation she asked what my next steps were. I explained how I’d love to go back to college, but it was hard with the baby. Kat didn’t see my baby as a barrier. She told me about the 15 hours of childcare funding, meaning college – something I thought I wouldn’t be able to do for a few years, was actually something I could do within months. I enrolled that September".

Home-Start helped me with my dream of becoming a car mechanic

"My ADHD and depression make it hard to be organised and I can quickly become overwhelmed. Kat enabled me to feel more in control by being more organised. Kat showed me how to find a childminder and helped me get everything in place so I could start my course in Motorsports Mechanics Level 2. By the end of the course so much had changed for me. I was confident, capable, I had a network of friends, and I was doing a course in a subject I’d always been interested in".

Home-Start was the road to my recovery

"For over 18 months Kat was a huge support to me. It’s hard to describe how much she helped me. When she told me one day that I no longer needed her, I cried. It felt like I was losing a family member. At the same time, as much as I was devastated to see her go, I knew she would be moving on to another mum who needed her as much as I did.

I loved my course so much I did Level 3 the year after. Life was already quite different by this point. I’d met a new partner and a few months later I fell pregnant with my son. Once again the midwife mentioned Home-Start, but my response this time was very different to the last. I bit her hand off to have Home-Start back in our lives. I was so happy to hear that Kat was still volunteering. 

When my son was born, Kat would take him and my daughter for a walk, to give me time to do some housework. Or she’d play with them while I took a nap. This all made me feel so much better able to manage. I had the energy to care for my children, and I had the headspace to take care of the house".

Life changing support

"It’s hard to comprehend how life would have been if Home-Start hadn’t been involved. Both times I was struggling, becoming snappy and bad tempered. Both times I was feeling overwhelmed with life. Kat never told me what to do, but she helped me realise what I wanted to be and gave me the belief to make it happen. She always made sure I knew how important I was. 

Home-Start enrolled me onto the nurturing programme. It was focused on teaching parents about positive parenting. I made some good friends on the programme. Being around the other mums, and with the confidence Home-Start gave me, I started to think more about developing my own business. I’d been trying to find work as a mechanic but couldn’t find anything that would fit around the children. I decided to start my own business, doing maintenance and car services like brake disc changes and diagnostics on the doorstep".

I'm now a Home-Start volunteer

“I’m now also volunteering at the Tubs & Toddler Tuesday group. Volunteering feels like a natural next step. I get such joy helping others. Volunteering also gives me the chance to say thank you for everything Home-Start did for me. They gave me the confidence to create the life I wanted. My business is growing, my kids are happy and I’m now in a position where I can help other mums deal with whatever life (or children!) throws at us.”

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