Vongayi’s life, over a very short time, changed beyond belief. Still new to the country, tragedy struck when one of her twin baby boys died from a heart attack when he was just 19 days old. Struggling with debilitating grief and the pressures of having a newborn, Vongayi was referred to Home-Start Glasgow North who became a lifeline.

Vongayi is an asylum seeker from a country* affected by civil unrest and human rights violations and at the time of her son’s death had been in the safety of Scotland for three years.

“My beautiful Rylan had a heart attack and died. It was totally unexpected. We were waiting for him to have surgery and hopeful he’d recover and be able to come home with his twin brother Adrian and me.

It felt impossible to process the death of my child at the same time as having a newborn baby. Another charity, Amma Birth Companion, referred me to Home-Start Glasgow North. I wasn’t leaving the house. I couldn’t get anything done and felt utterly overwhelmed and lost.

In just a few short months I went from having a professional job in my home country to claiming asylum in Glasgow. Like any mum, my children’s safety comes first so we had to make the leap and adjust to a very different lifestyle.

We arrived in Glasgow on Christmas Eve 2017 and spent Christmas Day in a Police Station. From there we were moved into temporary accommodation. From having been used to working and being a busy mum, the days here passed slowly and left me feeling that I lacked purpose.

My Home-Start coordinator Julie, came out and talked about how Home-Start could help me. She’d take me out for walks and even on the days when I couldn’t step out the door, Julie would stay with me. Our chats kept me going and made such a difference to my ability to function. Just knowing that I’d see someone from Home-Start was enough to give me energy.

Being a single parent and having the baby 24/7 can feel a bit relentless. Julie recognised this and played with Adrian to give me a chance to take a breather. Our walks in the park gave me a sense of peace. It also gave me the space to take a moment and work through what I had lost.

With each walk, each cup of coffee, each chat I felt more and more at peace. Even my GP and health visitor noticed it. My mental health was slowly improving. Then Julie introduced me to my volunteer, Kayleigh. Together Julie and Kayleigh got me back on my feet.

Kayleigh understood what it was like to have lost a child. Her understanding and empathy gave me strength. When I told the flowers from Rylan’s grave had died, she suggested getting artificial ones. Not only that but she helped me to arrange them – it was beautiful tribute to Rylan.

Of course going on in the background of all this is the asylum process. To have lost a child and also be stuck in the system is a lot to deal with. I don’t know what would have happened to us if during this time we didn’t have Home-Start holding us up.

It’s difficult to think too far into the future with so much uncertainty hanging over me. I’m still waiting for my court date. I hope after that we can really begin to build a permanent and happy life here.

I know my grief will never go away. But through the love and support I got from Home-Start, they’ve helped me to find a way to live.

Home-Start helped me to have a life beyond my struggles and heart ache. To have someone see you and say ‘let’s take a walk’ really does go a long way. I’m so grateful.”

*In the interest of safety, the name of the country has not been detailed

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