Every week, thousands of Home-Start volunteers knock on the door of a local family, ready to offer support, advice and guidance to the parent who answers. For the last ten years, 200 of these volunteers have been out and about, supporting families in West Dorset.

Over the next three days, we will be featuring three stories from three of the ‘original’ families who received support from Home-Start over a decade ago to find out what they are up to now…

Day Two: Caroline’s Story

When Caroline Pike’s babies were born at twenty-nine and a half weeks, she felt completely overwhelmed.

‘It feels very scary, having triplets. After five years of trying we’d had IVF and I’d never actually thought about how I would ‘do’ things; because you’re in that moment of being pregnant and amazed that you’re finally there. But then having them born so early. They were so very tiny…’

In the end, two of her boys, Ben and Ed, stayed in the hospital for two months and Will remained another four. ‘We were told at 12 weeks that he was poorly, so for the whole pregnancy I was scanned every fortnight. We always knew his name. We’d say, ‘he will live, he will survive.’

For Caroline, alternating weekly visits from Barbara Powell and another volunteer, Anne Hiles meant company. ‘That was the biggest thing,’ she says. ‘At work, I was so used to being around people. Then suddenly I was at home and felt really isolated. Everything I’d known just disappeared. I had three babies to look after, plus the house, and I came last – but having Barbara and Anne made me feel I could cope with all of it.’

‘I used to go on a Friday afternoon,’ Barbara says, ‘and stay until Caroline chucked me out. As a mum, I

 knew to say, when you’ve had enough of me, just let me know. ‘It’s like the friendship you didn’t know you needed,’ says Caroline. ‘In the early days I just couldn’t have done it – the simple things you don’t realise you need an extra pair of eyes for: like going to the park or the library.’

Barbara agrees that in a world of increasingly stretched services, the charity is filling a need; although personally, she feels that after having helped eleven families over the last ten years her Home-Start days are over. ‘I’m going to b

e 70 next year, and I think that if you hang on too long then other people can’t come in - and it’s important to have new volunteers.’

‘If I could grab that generation of grandparents and say, come and support these young mums. Things are easier for me these days and I’m now in my second year of training to be a paramedic – where I’ve seen first-hand how important it is to be able to truly empathise’, says Caroline.

With twins having unexpectedly followed the triplets five years later, I wonder what three words Caroline would choose to describe having her children. She thinks for a moment, watching two of them whizz down the slide, then laughs. ‘Routine, routine, routine.’

Thank you to Jess Thompson from Home-Start West Dorset for her help with gathering these stories and images.

Click here to read Zoe’s story from Day One