Mum of two, Caroline Mugambi, received Home-Start support for two years when she was struggling with post natal depression. Now as a Home-Start trustee, she is urging women to take care of their maternal mental health and to find the courage to ask for support if they’re finding parenting tough.

Caroline said: “My cultural background as a black African woman means we don’t speak out about problems and often find ourselves struggling on our own in silence.

But I want to say please don’t shy away from asking. We all have limits and it’s important to recognise them. If you feel things are tough, ask for help.”

Caroline was matched with a home-visiting volunteer when she was struggling with postnatal depression after the birth of her second son Ryan, now six and she and her husband had temporarily split.

Her eldest son Sean was four at the time and being supported with additional needs, and Caroline was breast feeding baby Ryan, when a family support worker at her local children’s centre mums and tots group spotted something was wrong.

Put on a brave face

I’d put on a brave face that day, but found myself bursting into tears at the session. A family support worker took me to one side and said let’s have a cup of tea and a chat.

Looking back I probably had post-natal depression but I didn’t realise it at the time. I didn’t have my mum or family local to me and friends were in London. Having split with my partner at that time it was lonely on my own with the children.”

Caroline was put in touch with Home-Start In Suffolk and, although reluctant at first, she was matched with trained home-visiting volunteer Janet, who became like a second mum to her. 

Janet was my safe space

Janet helped Caroline take one day at a time and made sure she did not become overwhelmed by life. Now an Independent and Wellbeing Practitioner, working for Suffolk County Council, Caroline said: “For me Home-Start support was like taking the weight off your shoulders for a while, so you can be the parent you want to be.

"Without Home Start I think I would have fallen into a deep depression. I didn’t and that’s thanks to Janet. I still go to her first to tell her important things. Janet felt like my safe space.”

Support included signposting to services like Citizens Advice Bureau, sorting childcare for Ryan so she could spent time with her eldest son Sean and practical support, like a Home-Start handyman who came and fitted a stairgate. The charity also gave the family vouchers for fresh fruit and vegetables.

“Janet championed me so it is time for me to champion Home-Start as a trustee, to encourage other mums to get help.”

Get support

Read more 'family voices'