Unresolved trauma from her past left Kirsty Duffy struggling to be the mum she wanted to be. Despite having a clear vision in her mind of a loving, happy family, Kirsty couldn’t see how to get there. That’s until Jackie, a volunteer from Home-Start Renfrewshire and Inverclyde showed her the way.

Kirsty says: “I was 19, pregnant, in an abusive relationship, with no family support. I was in a dark place and desperately trying to find help. Everything came to a head when I lost my baby daughter at full term. I was left with nothing else in my life but grief". 

I thought once I was a nurse everything would fall into place

"Two years later I met my husband and started to rebuild. I’d always wanted to be a nurse and began a nursing degree. By the time I graduated in 2016, I’d had my second son. I was working as a registered nurse, but that’s when I started to crash.

For the last few years, my focus was on becoming a nurse. I had tunnel vision and kept thinking once I was a nurse everything would fall into place, but it didn’t. I had a lot of unresolved trauma from my past and I was struggling.

I desperately wanted a better life for my family and for my children to see me happy. I had this lovely vision of having a happy family who made the most out of every day. But I couldn’t see how to achieve it when I was constantly feeling anxious". 

I needed help

“I knew I needed help to find me again, and not just become this person who has faced so much adversity. We moved to Erskine for a fresh start. Once we’d moved, I was referred by to Home-Start Renfrewshire and Inverclyde. I was so ready to accept help, I just needed someone to offer it.

Mags, a co-ordinator from Home-Start came over to the house and asked me how family life was
and what I needed support with. From that point onwards, Mags became a huge support to me.

Later she introduced me to Jackie, a home visiting volunteer. Jackie got me out and about to groups and made sure I was meeting other parents. “I lock things away, but Jackie helped me to talk about my feelings. The boys love Jackie; we all do. Jackie brought joy into our lives and the loveliest warm energy into our home. To watch her with my children is beautiful.

I try to do everything myself and sometimes I just wish someone else was there to sprinkle some extra love towards my kids. Someone to have a cuppa with, and just give me a little hand when things felt overwhelming. Jackie helped me to remove any obstacle to achieving the happy family life I’ve always longed for".

Home-Start volunteers choose to be there for families

"I think the biggest difference with Home-Start’s support compared to other services I’ve been part of is Jackie wanted to be here. She didn’t have to be, but she always showed up and dedicated her time to supporting me. It took me a while to accept there are amazing people in this world who care, and she is one of them. I’m forever grateful she’s a part of mine, my husband’s and my children’s lives.

Home-Start played a big part in reducing the isolation we felt as a family. I loved attending the weekly perinatal and family groups and it was a brilliant way to meet other parents. My husband went to the dads’ group. He used to be nervous at taking the boys out by himself, but Home-Start helped him overcome his nerves.

In July 2021, my partner and I got married. There were only two people I wanted there - Jackie and Mags. They’ve always rooted for me and wanted to see me succeed. Jackie and Mags helped me to
find my self-worth and confidence. I feel so much stronger because of them.

Jackie supported me for three and half years. In that time, I had my fourth baby. When we announced the pregnancy, I heard so many negative comments about having another one. Jackie was the voice that cut through all the negative ones. She told me that every baby was a blessing.

We’re no longer a Home-Start family. I don’t feel I need support anymore. I’m confident, happy and I’ve overcome what happened in my past. I’m still connected to Mags and Jackie. I believe we will always be in touch. They were such a special part of our journey as a family.

It’s so true you can’t pour from an empty cup and my weekly visit was exactly what I needed to boost myself up and be able to be focused and happier for my children. I have goals again, and the future is exciting now. I have been given all the support to reach to where I am today".

Breaking the generational cycle

"I want to be that role model for my boys, and, I wouldn’t have got there without Home-Start help. The kindness they’ve shown me is something I’ve never had before. I needed that. If my boys ever have children I want to be like Jackie. I’m going to be the most supportive mum and granny ever. I’m going to break the generational cycle. I’m determined I’ll never show judgement, only kindness.

To all Home-Start volunteers, the moments you share with your families will be memories for life. Your impact will always shine on the children’s lives and will be a special part of the parent’s journey of having children. I hope you all love being a part of Home-Start and families’ hearts. Jackie has literally changed our lives and I absolutely admire her as a person, as a volunteer, but most importantly she’s now a friend forever.”

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