Tracey's partner left her when her daughter Tia was six months old. Tracey was an older mum, and she already had a much older son, so she thought she should be able to cope. It was only when her health visitor referred her to Home-Start that she realised just how much she needed support.  

Here, Tracey tells her story: 

"I took my daughter for a baby weigh-in session and my health visitor noticed I wasn’t myself. I was recommended a referral to Home-Start. I had never heard of Home-Start but knew I was struggling and needed help.

"My Home-Start volunteer came to me every week. She changed my life. Tia was a colicky baby and cried every night between 5pm and 11pm. I remember the first time my volunteer came I managed to wash my hair and shower because my volunteer was taking care of her. She gave me time to sort out my unpaid bills and unopened post. It meant so much at what was a really difficult time. 

Tracey holds her sleeping baby daughter "My partner left when Tia was six months old, which was tough. I was a single parent again I was an older mum and thought I should be able to cope as she was my second child, so I wouldn’t ask anyone for help as someone might need it more than I did. I tried to go to mum and toddler groups but I really struggled. I’d cry before I went in and cry all the way home afterwards. It took me a very long time to find a group I could just be myself and comfortable with the other families. 

The mask that Tracey made, white with gemstones

"I remember the first ‘Mothers In Mind’ group I attended at Home-Start Stroud and Gloucester in 2017, we created masks. At the time I was just cutting things out with my daughter sat on my lap, talking to the mums either side of me. The aim was to create a mask for a local exhibition, but later when I took the pieces home to stick onto my mask, I realised this was therapy in itself.

Every item on my mask relates to my journey with my poor mental health and how I was feeling. I realised I’d been wearing a mask for much longer than I should have, trying to pretend I was okay when I wasn’t. I wore that mask when I should have been asking for help. That mask making session was a big eye opener for me. 

The team at Home-Start Stroud and Gloucester recognised Tracey's struggles and with gentle support, they enabled her to seek specialised therapy to help her with undiagnosed PTSD, severe depression and anxiety.

“I didn’t make it easy and was very reluctant to step into therapy,” Tracey says.  "My daughter was always clean, fed, well looked after, communicated to and loved but I was severely neglecting myself on autopilot caring for my daughter, doing it all staring into space with depression and sadness. I was present but I wasn’t really there. Luckily she has thrived but that will not be the case for every child. 

"It’s not a weakness to admit you need help. It is strength and the bravest step you will ever make. 

We are delighted that Tracey has gone from strength to strength and now works as the Co-ordinator at Mothers In Mind.

She says "I became Mothers in Mind Co-ordinator in February 2021, It’s a simple concept but a powerful one. We provide a safe and confidential space for women to be themselves. They can offload, talk and share with others who truly understand what they are going through. They know they can talk without being judged. They also know there are others who care, I also offer one to one support to mums who are unable to attend group and they know I am always on the end of a phone for a chat, advice and support. The mums can relate to each other because they are all going through similar things. If I hadn’t found Home-Start and Mothers In Mind I don’t know how I would have managed. 

"Nowadays, it feels like you have your baby and you’re left to get on with it. You’re supposed to know what to do and be all smiles and happiness. Reality is  - being a parent is hard work. A simple bit of help makes all the difference". 

Tracey and Tia now.  

Read Family Matters for more stories of people supported by Home-Start