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(68 Posts)
raininginbaltimore Mon 01-Apr-13 19:42:22

I have a homestart volunteer who comes once a week, and has been about four-five times now. I have ds (3) and dd (8 months), and spent 8 weeks in a lithe and baby psychiatric unit when dd was very little. Dd was also in hospital for refusal to feed and weight loss an dx with reflux and cmpi. Obviously I was struggling. Homestart was recommended a a way of getting me support for which I am very grateful.

The volunteer is very nice, but she comes and chats for two or so hours. We make small talk and talk a bit about some issues. The problem is I find it incredibly hard work and not all that useful. I don't want to sound ungrateful, but I have friends I see and chat to, I go out every day. I struggle with managing both children together and keeping on top of basic house stuff like washing bottles and the like.

I don't know how to address it as I dread her coming . It is the thing I find hardest, talking to someone I don't know, making conversation. And the whole time she is there I can't get on with anything, make a cup of tea etc. I'm probably not explaining this well.

What I need is a break, to be able to to things in house/sleep/be by myself for 20mins- that would help (we have no family near to help), not just to chat to a stranger.

I sound like a cow. But I just think I am wasting her time.

ssd Mon 01-Apr-13 19:48:08

You aren't wasting anyone's time. But I think she's just thinking you like a little chat, when really you need her to iron/bath the kids/let you get a lie down whilst she reads to the kids....or make up those bottles for you

You need to be honest with her and tell her what you want, shes there to help. TBH she sounds a waste of space, sitting and chatting instead of doing and helping.

Needingthework Mon 01-Apr-13 19:53:36

I used to work for them as a coordinator.
Does your volunteer not have a workplan? At our branch, each one had a workplan, to be reviewed after 6-8 weeks, which you should have been shown when the volunteer was introduced. This would give you and her an idea as to how the support will be carried out.

FarleyD Mon 01-Apr-13 20:02:19

I used to be a HS Co-ordinator too. Ring your local branch up and ask to speak to your co-ordinator and explain how you're feeling. She will be able to speak to your volunteer, or perhaps find another more suitable volunteer. Both you and your volunteer should be having fairly regular reviews to find out how things are going, if you're suited to each other, if needs are being met.

One thing I will mention is that our volunteers were told that they were not baby-sitters or cleaners, the idea was that they were there to empower their family so that the family could cope once volunteer support was withdrawn. So if it's practical help you need or a break from the children, maybe HS isn't for you? They might be able to refer you to other local organisations which may be better able to help you though? I hope you get the help you need/want.

fuzzpig Mon 01-Apr-13 20:06:55

Arrgh I wrote a long reply and then my phone died sad

In short - speak to your coordinator because there has been some misunderstanding about how your HSV should be helping you. It is supposed to be tailored to your individual needs - not that it's like a free babysitting or cleaning service obviously, but they should understand that different people need different forms of help. Some people would find the chatting helpful if they were particularly lonely or isolated.

For you the ideal would be that your HSV plays with your DCs for a bit while you get some stuff done and have some headspace from being constantly 'on duty', or maybe playing with one while you have some quality time with the other.

I just met my HSV and we agreed that she will be playing with DS while I get a bit of rest (I am disabled), in particular playing with him outside as I can't do that, and sometimes taking us out as I don't drive and can't manage buses plus DCs at the moment.

It sounds like you don't have the right HSV for you, or there's just been a misunderstanding about the aim of the match, so you should have a word with the coordinator.

elliejjtiny Mon 01-Apr-13 20:09:31

If you want practical help, Barnardos are great. I had a lovely volunteer from there when my DS1 and DS2 were little. She helped me get my house in order when I'd neglected it to concentrate on DS2's various therapies.

aquashiv Mon 01-Apr-13 20:10:59

Have you told her what you would like.

BubbyBum Mon 01-Apr-13 20:11:19

I've had a Homestart volunteer come visit me and my two children for almost a year now - and she's absolutely lovely. She is kind of like the grandmother I wish their actual grandmother was (my mil - my own mum passed away years ago and the rest of my family is back in Canada)

Anyway, sometimes we have a chat while she takes on entertaining the kids the entire time she is here. Other times, because she is so hands on with the children, I can get on with cleaning the house, the ironing, having an extended shower, or even a nap (particularly in the early days when I was really struggling with sleep deprivation and PND.) I really look forward to her visits, and my children adore her.

Don't feel that you're wasting her time, as I find that my volunteer gets as much out of visiting with my children as I do out of having her here. With that said, you may have to have a little chat with your volunteer and determine if both of you are comfortable for her to spend time with your kids while you're getting on with what you need to get on with. She is not there to do your ironing or housework for you, but I suspect she'd be more than happy to entertain the kids while you're out of the room. I know in the early days for me it felt odd to just leave the room and get on with whatever I needed to do, but now I don't think twice about it.

However, if it's not a good match, for whatever reason, you can always have a chat with the Homestart coordinator, probably the person who came out to visit you initially, and they may be able to arrange for a different volunteer to come to you. They don't take it personally, it's just something that happpens sometimes.

Hopefully you can get it sorted. Sorry I rambled on for so long!

amistillsexy Mon 01-Apr-13 20:12:07

I agree, have a word with your co-ordinator. If you don't like the visitor who has been asigned to you, he/she will allocate a new one ( if there are any vounteers free), but if it's just a case of needing her to do something different, the co-ordinator should be able to get that sorted for you without you having to have a difficult conversation.
The important thing is that you are well supported.

kinkyfuckery Mon 01-Apr-13 20:13:53

Just tell her what you would like. She can either say yes, or no. She needs you to guide her with what you are happy.

<3 your username by the way!!

littlemissbunny Mon 01-Apr-13 20:14:11

I am currently applying to become a volunteer and I was told all families are different and want different things.

As a volunteer I would want to know what you expect from me so I can help you as much as I can, and would be happy to help with the things you are asking.

Speak to your coordinator, it may be you would be better matched with another volunteer or that your volunteer just isn't clear on what you would like.

Sokmonsta Mon 01-Apr-13 20:31:28

It might be taking her a little while to settle in. Have you signed the papers to leave her alone with the dc?

I spent the first few weeks talking to my volunteer before feeling I could just leave her to get on with the twins while I do housework. But now she even makes their breakfast, dresses them and makes up their bottles without being asked.

Be honest with her about what you need from her and go from there. If you still don't get on, mention it to your coordinator when they do their next visit.

fuzzpig Mon 01-Apr-13 20:32:35

Ellie I didn't know barnardos did things like that, thanks smile

Namehelpplease Mon 01-Apr-13 20:39:57

I chatted to a girl who has HS help. She told me its great but she's not allowed to sleep whilst the volunteer was there?

MammaTJ Mon 01-Apr-13 20:56:15

Tell her you have friends you can talk to but you need practical help. I really miss mine since my son turned 5. She sould make such a difference to my living room within 5 minutes and helped me so much.

hudjes Mon 01-Apr-13 21:15:59

Hi bubbybum - you have had your homestart visitor for almost a year now? I thought they were for 4 to 6 months. Mine finished after 6 months.
OP - mine was helpful, I had to make it clear what I wanted though.

FarleyD Mon 01-Apr-13 21:22:20

There are guidelines within HS that suggest the volunteer doesn't do housework or babysitting etc. However, to a certain extent it's up to the individual volunteer to decide how much/little they are prepared to do. As long as they don't take over doing everything - the idea is they take up a bit of the slack for the period when the family is most stressed. So some volunteers might be prepared to come and do housework alongside the family, or help the family get a routine in place, or accompany the family/mother to a gp's appointment etc. They really do say though that they are not babysitters so whereas they can play with the dc, the idea is that they are showing the family how to deal with the dc once support is withdrawn.

And, certainly where I worked, it was always encouraged that if the mum for instance had a dental appointment, rather than leaving the dc at home with the volunteer, the volunteer should accompany the mum to help her out with the dc at the dentist. Which in practice sounds the hard way of doing things, but in theory helps the mum to develop confidence in being out and about with the dc. There's no reason though why Op can't go out with her volunteer if they both want. They could go to park, or soft play, shopping or whatever.

raininginbaltimore Mon 01-Apr-13 21:40:09

Thanks for all the advice. I'm not expecting her to clean or anything. But for example I always offer her a drink and she says no. So then I don't feel like I can sit and drink a cup of tea. And the house is always a tip, so I often send the morning before she comes rushing round making it decent. It feels like I am on my guard all the time, like someone is watching how I play with the kids.

It just feels like really hard work. Ds always get really hyper and 'show Coffey' if that makes sense. I just find small talk really hard. I don't really know what I mean, other than I get really anxious the night before she comes and it feels hard.

We have been out, but there isn't much in my village and I'm worried I will see someone- how would I introduce her?

In the early days when did screamed all day long and ds was dumped in front of cbeebies it would have been great.

BubbyBum Mon 01-Apr-13 21:45:56

Hi hudjes - yes, though I can't exactly remember when my volunteer started with us, but it's definitely been well over six months now.

At the six months mark I had a home visit with the coordinator to see how I was getting on. At that point I still felt that I still needed support, so my volunteer continued on with us. I am now feeling much more confident and capable and my pnd is so much better, so I suspect that soon I'll be letting my volunteer go to help another family. I'm dreading that day because my kids and I have grown really fond of her.

Does anyone on here, who has or is a volunteer with Homestart, keep in touch with the families they have helped, or is that frowned upon?

FarleyD Mon 01-Apr-13 21:47:02

She's not there to judge you*raining*, she's really not. HS train their volunteers quite intensively (ten week course when I was a co-ordinator), and chances are she will have been where you are now (the most important criteria for all our volunteers was that they had children so really knew how difficult it could be). During the training there is a strong emphasis on being non-judgemental, and although it happens rarely, people who don't seem to be "getting" the HS ethos are (nicely!) asked to leave.

Don't tidy your house before she gets there, let her see it how it is. She will then have a better notion of how you're coping, and may be able to help you with a routine or a strategy to keep on top of it. And absolutely if you want a cup of tea, go ahead and have one! If you meet anyone you know when you're out with her, introduce her as "my friend, Sarah" or whatever. Another thing HS is very keen on is confidentiality, so she will have been well primed not to talk about you to anyone other than her co-ordinator.

But ultimately the whole HS volunteer thing is meant to help you. If you feel it's stressing you out, speak to your co-ordinator, she/he is there to help.

Namehelpplease Mon 01-Apr-13 21:48:37

Sounds pretty pointless the way it is! Could you say to her "I'm so glad you're here - I'm going to get on with some jobs if that's okay and then have a bath/shower. Would you mind watching TV with the kids while I crack on and if they need anything at all just shout?"

I'm not sure if that would count as babysitting? Can others advise? I do have family but my dad bless him wouldn't know how to 'look after' DS in terms of changing nappies, feeding etc - but it really helps him just playing with him whie I get laundry done etc and then have a shower?

BubbyBum Mon 01-Apr-13 21:52:13

What FarleyD said. Spot on.

TheSecondComing Mon 01-Apr-13 21:53:11

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

redwellybluewelly Mon 01-Apr-13 22:00:37

I've been unable to get HomeStart in our area, but thanks for the tip about Barnados.

Think you need to be honest and discuss with your volunteer or her team a way forward to make the most of her time in your house. Definitely second not running around tidying up before she arrives, simply additional stress.

littlemissbunny Mon 01-Apr-13 22:02:41

raining I am starting my volunteer training soon and I would feel bad if someone felt they had to tidy up before I went! it would make me feel better about my own house not being perfect

The reason I am volunteering is because I really struggled myself and wish I had know about homestart, I would never judge anyone because their house is a mess. I am going there to hopefully make a big difference to them and give them the support they need.

And I would be happy to be introduced as your friend Sarah from school days etc, its one thing I would ask before I went out with you so you wouldn't feel awkward if you bumped into someone as you would know what to say.

Please have a chat with her about it, or if you feel you can't talk to her talk to your coordinator, it's what they are there for.

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