"Without surestart I wouldn't be where I am today"

About: Mansfield Woodhouse Children's Centre

(as a staff member posting for a patient/service user),

‘I first came to Sure Start shortly after having my first baby girl. I was a young mum at 17 and my daughter was 5 weeks old. I got told about Sure Start by my Health Visitor, so one day I got ready and decided to check it out.

My first visit was to a young parent’s group. I was so nervous I went on my own. I didn’t know anybody and felt pushed out and a bit neglected by the other mums. I stuck it out an hour, went through for snack time with the other parents and sat on the other side of the room. It was horrible. I felt left out and hurt. Shortly after, I got my things together and was ready to leave with the feelings that I never wanted to go back. I don’t know why I felt like that, then a member of staff came behind me as I was leaving to see if I was ok, clearly noticing I wasn’t. She offered me some support and asked if I would like her to come round for a chat. She was a support worker.

I left her my number. A week later I had a phone call and it was her. She arranged to come round the following Friday. I was sceptical at first but at that point I needed someone and some help.

The first visit had arrived and the worker came in for a coffee and a chat. All I remember was being very emotional. I explained why I left, how I felt at that point that I was dealing with depression. She sat back and listened and gave me other groups she thought might be good to attend. I didn’t go back to the centre for a while but still had the support nearly every week from home.

I was then due to have my second child. I didn’t know how to feel about it. I was probably more petrified on my second as I felt I couldn’t cope with the first. When she was born it was ten times more difficult to cope with, being in the house all day. I still saw my family support worker and decided to give Sure Start another go. My youngest was about 8 weeks when I went back with my eldest being about 18 months. I went to the Stay and Play session. A worker came up to me as soon as the girls had settled in, she introduced herself and asked me about myself and the girls. She made me feel really welcome. She helped me when she saw I was struggling.

It was so different from my first visit. From that day, I grabbed a timetable and started attending more groups like the library singing group and a new young mum’s group. I got to know a lot of the staff well and started making friends. I was still having a lot of difficulties at home. My family support worker was leaving so she introduced me to a new family support worker. She was just as kind and supportive. I got offered a lot of support and guidance by her. I was having doubts at the time about keeping my youngest. I loved her so much, but at that time I didn’t think I did, or could cope. A lot of support and help was given and I came through the rough patch.

After a while I started attending adult learning courses. The girls attended crèche and I felt happy and confident to leave them. I made more friends and my confidence was growing. I was feeling happier within myself. Things were getting thrown at me too but I felt I could cope with the help I was receiving. As my life got better and I felt happier, I started to think about going to work. With support from the support worker, I did a CV and handed them out. I eventually got a job.

Now I am a working single mum and couldn’t be happier. Without the help of Sure Start I wouldn’t be where I am today and I’m very grateful. Sure Start is my second home and they all do a fantastic job’.

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Response from Carol Pearce, Children's Centre Co-ordinator, Sure Start Children's Centres, County Health Partnerships

Thank you for sharing your story on Patient Opinion and it is wonderful to hear how you have worked so hard to make such positive changes to you and your daughter's lives. When the staff and myself hear stories like this it really makes us all so proud to have supported families and motivates us to continue our fantastic work in Children's Centres. I wish you every success in the future and I congratulate you on your achievements.

Carol Pearce

Children's Centre Co-ordinator

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