Home-Start doesn’t need a single day in the year to champion women - it’s what we do every day! But International Women’s Day does provide us with a moment in the annual calendar to reflect on our achievement in supporting tens of thousands of women to be the best parent they can be.

This critical support, which has a lasting impact on both parents and children, is also made possible by the many extraordinary women within our organisation who go above and beyond to make lives better.

For 2024’s International Women’s Day, we asked three women who have been supported by Home-Start to tell us how they believe Home-Start makes life better for women.

Nneka Egbunike

When Nneka found out she was expecting twins, she knew that having four children under the age of five would be a huge challenge. That’s why she sought out support from Home-Start Ealing. Little did she know that this decision would help her rebuild her life.

In the midst of an already traumatic birth, Nneka experienced peri-cardiac arrest. 

“I was on my own for the birth of the twins. There were several complications that resulted in me flatlining. It was harrowing. I lost a lot of blood and was so lucky to have survived. Not only did I have newborn twins and two other young children, but I was also in huge amounts of pain plus I had to mentally process what nearly happened to me.”

In her darkest moments, Zara, her Home-Start volunteer became Nneka’s lifeline, helping her to heal and to cope with her new life.

Having Zara’s support was amazing. We connected straight away. She would come to the house, and we’d do certain activities, we would talk, she would allow me space and time to spend time with my children. It gave me mental respite. Words can't describe how much her being there helped me. She was a godsend. 

"People do not understand the value of these small acts of kindness. It helps so much for your mental health. I couldn't have done it by myself, it would simply have been too much. There’s such a power in women supporting other women. I encourage every woman who needs support, even if you have a partner, sometimes you just need someone else to be beside you, maybe not even saying anything, just being there.”

Nneka continues, “Zara made everything more manageable, I couldn’t have done it without her, I wasn’t alone anymore. It gave me mental respite. Words can't describe how much her being there helped me. She was a godsend. Thanks to Home-Start, I have new lease on life, and I am so thankful for all the support I received, my children are thankful too.”

Preya Chauhan

“I was overwhelmed, almost paralysed by the pressures of motherhood but every time I opened the door to my volunteer, I would feel my shoulders would soften, I felt relief, I felt held and understood for those few hours. The difference it all made was incredible.”

Pregnant with her first child and facing the daunting task of navigating a new life in a new town, amid the challenges of neurodivergence and pre and post-natal depression, Preya Chauhan turned to Home-Start for help.

Preya says, “Home-Start Wandsworth was my life buoy when I was sinking. I don’t know what I would have done without the help from the women at Home-Start. My Home-Start volunteer Was so thoughtful, her support always left me feeling held and seen. 

"I had always a felt two pages behind in life generally. So, in addition to the stresses of becoming a mother, my neurodivergence added more barriers to accessing help, my confidence levels and ability to think straight! I was as very hard on myself on reflection, the comparing to other mothers was not helpful. Overthinking and feeling constantly judged was a plague on my mind.” 

To Preya, Home-Start was a much-needed safety net. The simple yet significant gestures of her Home-Start volunteer changed Preya's life in countless ways. From coaxing her out of bed on challenging days to accompanying her on daunting trips out, the support was both practical and emotional. 

“One of the biggest gifts my volunteer gave me was space to develop love for my child, by holding me emotionally as a mother. She would help in small yet hugely significant ways, from encouraging me to get out of bed on the days I just didn’t feel I could, to holding the baby whilst I had a shower. I felt held a person, a woman, as a mother. 

"Home-Start offers a unique layer of safety and empathy that those who have walked a similar path can offer. Being around other women, mums and wonderful Home-Start staff offered me just what I needed when I needed it most, a safe and supportive space, what a gift that is.” 

Preya later became a trustee for Home Start Wandsworth and even gives free reflexology treatments to Home-Start parents and staff.

Kelly Sims

Kelly became a single parent when she was pregnant with twins and her eldest was two years old. Suffering from postnatal depression and feeling traumatised by past abusive experiences, life was swiftly becoming overwhelming. 

With her mental health at an all-time low, she didn’t know who to ask for help, or even if she could be helped. It wasn’t until she was referred to Home-Start that she realised it may be possible.

Kelly said, “I was carrying around so much pain, making it hard to focus on the children. When you are at a place like this, life can be so hard and confusing. I was stuck between feeling at my absolute lowest and wanting to be a good parent to my children, I felt like I was failing.

"Home-Start and the work it does to change the community and help families, it all goes towards making lives better for women, for future generations. Women supporting women helps to breaks cycles, by helping women to make choices and changes to improve their lives.

"The support I received was amazing. It all started with a hug and talking, this led to feeling safe. Safety turned to confidence, confidence turned to knowledge and then knowledge to power. I took the power back and have been able to turn the tables and make a better life for me and my children. They took the fear away." 

Kelly, inspired by the help she received, went on to become a Home-Start volunteer herself and has since been offered a paid role at Home Start Corby as their new Digital Developer. 

Kelly continues, “I now know that I am enough, I am capable, and my children have a better, healthier mum because of the support I received. Women are at the forefront of Home-Start support, and I am so proud to be a part of such an amazing charity.” 

Home-Start is proud to be making lives better for women on International Women’s Day and every day.

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By supporting mothers through some of the obstacles they face, we empower them to become stronger and more resilient and we equip them with tools to raise the next generation so that they can thrive.

Donate to help ensure Home-Start's expert staff and trained volunteers can provide a lifeline of practical and emotional support to women at this critical time. 

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