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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.

NeoMaxiZoomDweebie Mon 01-Apr-13 22:11:03

It sounds like she's not very experienced to me. She should be helping not hindering and I wonder why she's not reading you better...?

raininginbaltimore Mon 01-Apr-13 22:13:53

I dont want her to clean! I think part of the issue is maybe that maybe because it took four months to set up I am out of the worst. As I said when did was smaller and screaming all day I needed someone to help me get out etc.

But things like, my CPN visits once a week, each time she asks if I've had a got drink today and makes me one. She checks I've eaten and will watch the kids while I make something to eat. She always asks if there is anything I want t do hang washing out, wash bottles etc and just watches them while I quickly do that.

I just find talking to new people so hard. I think it is me. My main issues now are my mental health ones, intrusive thoughts etc and I can't talk to her about them. I just smile and pretend everything is great,because that is what I do.

NeoMaxiZoomDweebie Mon 01-Apr-13 22:16:33

I think you need to think about stopping the visits then have a CPN visit also...not sure what CPN is, but it sounds like your Homestart visitor would be better off being freed up for someone else.

raininginbaltimore Mon 01-Apr-13 22:18:34

Community Psychiatric Nurse.

Haberdashery Mon 01-Apr-13 22:23:10

>> I just find talking to new people so hard. I think it is me.

Hi, I have no particular mental health issues but would also find this insanely stressful because I am very introverted and prefer my own company. It's not just you. Do you think maybe you don't really need these visits?

FarleyD Mon 01-Apr-13 22:24:03

Bubby, no real reason why you can't keep in touch with your volunteer/family after the "official" relationship is over - if that's what you both want.

FarleyD Mon 01-Apr-13 22:28:20

Maybe HS is not for you then Raining - and that's not a criticism in any shape or form. As you say, perhaps your time of need for a volunteer has passed and now is the time for other services to help you. I think HS is a wonderful organisation, but tbh, I do think it has serious limitations, which is one of the reasons I left. The area in which I worked had so many families who were suffering in such dreadful ways (thinking particularly of one family where the mum had survived murder attempt and was being stalked), that the idea of a nice friendly woman turning up once a week to chat was a bit risible.

hudjes Mon 01-Apr-13 22:34:45

Bubbybub, HS made it clear to me when coming up to 6 months, that it was coming to an end. Felt really upset as me and my daughter was getting attached to her. Maybe they thought we were coping well. We have said we will keep in touch.

ariane5 Mon 01-Apr-13 22:40:55

I have had HS volunteer twice now. Four years ago when I was pg with dd2 I was very much in your position and it didn't work out.

I now have a HS volunteer who is a godsend, she reads to dd2, makes me a cup of tea and I can sit and feed ds2 in peace or get on with housework. She is really easy to chat to (and Iam not much of a chatty/sociable person so that's saying a lot!).

Speak to the hS co ordinator and perhaps they could change your volunteer? Or make a plan more tailored to the help you would like.

Lilicat1013 Mon 01-Apr-13 22:42:37

I think it might be worth talking with her about what could be helpful within the range of what she is allowed to do. At the moment it seems like she thinks you need a friend or person to talk to and is trying to be supportive that way.

I have been referred to Home Start myself and am waiting to here if I qualify. I have an autistic three year old and a newborn. My older son has become very distressed at the birth of my younger son.

Ideally I am hoping someone would be able to sit with my baby while I get my younger son when he is dropped off by his school transport. I have to go down four flights of stairs with baby in car seat, then wait with baby in the cold for the taxi. My older son gets dropped off with his bag and car seat. I have to get baby in car seat, unco-operative three year old who may refuse to move, three year old's car seat and his backpack up four flights of stairs back to the flat.

If someone could just sit with baby (who will be asleep) for five to ten minutes that would make all the difference. That is probably considered babysitting though so I am going to ask for some help to go out with both of them as I don't really leave the flat anymore.

BubbyBum Mon 01-Apr-13 22:45:02

hudjes, that is a shame. Perhaps they didn't realise you still needed / wanted the support. I hope you are able to keep in touch with your volunteer!

MintChocCh1p Mon 01-Apr-13 22:50:47

So, they don't clean or iron . You cant go off and rest while they are there < sleeping not allowed? > and they are there to 'empower the family? '

This all sounds really vague to me. A struggling parent would surely need a few hours of peace and a helping hand.

What exactly DO they do?

Ooh, interesting thread - might think about volunteering with HS - particularly as something you can just volunteer a few hours a week with - and would like to support a young family now mine are a bit older smile

montage Mon 01-Apr-13 23:13:35

I would have a think OP, about what it would be helpful for her to do. Then ask her or the co-ordinator which things on your list are ok for the volunteer to do. The workplan that Needingthework talked about in her post (of 19:53) sounds like a good way to do that, if your homestart branch also does them.

Then see whether the usefulness of the visit is worth the stress IYSWIM - completely your call.

If you think that the particular volunteer is just not a good "fit" for you and your family it sounds like you can also ask about a change of volunteer.

Your CPN does sound very useful but obviously a CPN and Homestart volunteer are very different and there is absolutely no reason at all why you should not have both. Many support plans for people in your position would of course include both. Completely different services.

Please make the decision based on what is best for you and you family - if there is a way this service can make life easier for you I would try and find it. If it's going to remain stressful I would let it go. But don't feel you have to free up a volunteer for someone else or that you have to let her go because you are wasting her time etc. It sounds like you have been through a very rough time.

Your mental health is the priority here so make your decisions based on that.

TheSecondComing Mon 01-Apr-13 23:23:53

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

FarleyD Mon 01-Apr-13 23:33:32

Mint - that was the question I kept asking myself, felt a bit of a fraud in the end, didn't think what we had to offer was anything near enough to deal with the problems we were faced with.

But, given the right volunteer matched with the right family, HS intervention can make a world of difference. Just having a sympathetic ear once a week is enough for some people, having someone to help organise you works for others, having someone to come out with you may help someone else, signposting as TheSecondComing says to local services and organisations etc.

It's all meant to about "empowering" the family to function as best it can, and to ease families through those often very difficult early days.

MintChocCh1p Mon 01-Apr-13 23:36:08

Well, I fully support HomeStart. Absolutely.

But this just seems really vague and woolly. I'd like to see something more concrete. All families are different and have different needs but I would think that you're probably dealing with a lot of folk who have some bigger issues than maybe a listening ear or holding the baby can help with.

Dunno, I'd have to think about it more. I just keep returning to the thought of ' it's not very specific

memphis83 Mon 01-Apr-13 23:36:52

I still go to a family support group and get support from there but I stopped visits after 4 weeks as I felt how you seem to. I felt on guard and cleaned house and put a front on while she was there. She once took ds for a walk while I had a shower but I didn't connect with her.
I told my co-ordinator how I felt that I didn't feel it helped me and she said some don't feel that the visits help. I have a couple of friends who have had visits for about two years now. But I felt better once the visits stopped.

FarleyD Mon 01-Apr-13 23:43:11

Absolutely true Minty, it is a bit woolly. But most of the HS volunteers are just that, ie volunteers. They're not trained social workers or counsellors etc, and can only work within the remit of the HS guidelines. Those families needing more specific help and intervention (and there are loads of them, or certainly were where I worked) are not going to benefit significantly from a lovely lady/man coming over once a week for a chat.

MajaBiene Mon 01-Apr-13 23:47:16

MintChoc - maybe in one family what the mum needs is help to take her toddler and baby twins out to the HV clinic/toddler group.
Another mum might need someone to entertain the children while she makes phonecalls/does housework/has a bath/sleeps.
Another might have a physical disability and need help taking her children to the park or swimming.
Another might just be really isolated and need a friend, someone who can help them tackle budgetting or form filling or getting on top of family routines.

If a family has really severe issues, more than just a friendly face/listening ear/extra pair of hands for a few hours a week, then it isn't a job for HomeStart - it might be a job for Social Services, Sure Start, mental health services etc.

OP - speak to your co-ordinator and tell her how you feel and what help you actually need. If what you want is for the volunteer to play with the children while you get on with other stuff at home then say that.

TheSecondComing Mon 01-Apr-13 23:52:07

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

BadRoly Mon 01-Apr-13 23:53:49

Unfortunately I didn't have a great HS experience. I was referred by the HV when dc4 was born as dh was working away, dc4 had health worries and dc2 was having real problems at school.

First volunteer was a lovely older lady who was to come after school for a couple of hours to help out as I cooked tea etc. only she came twice then went off sick.

Second volunteer was younger and had school age children so could only come during school hours. As I went out every morning to toddlers etc and both dc3 & 4 slept all afternoon, it was a bit pointless as time when I could have been snoozing doing other stuff was taken up with polite chit chat. And. Then had a school run and then all the witching hour/tea time nonsense to do on my own anyway... I think we only did 4-6 weeks tops.

I think the idea behind HS is superb but the implementation doesn't always meet the needs of the family. And I have to say that both if my volunteers were lovely but it just didn't work for me.

MintChocCh1p Mon 01-Apr-13 23:56:14

Yes I can see that.

I also know that I'd hate it, but then I'm not the target audience I suppose. I can understand how the OP feels...maybe time to try and be a little assertive and say ' Actually, I'd love a couple of hours to sleep tackle some jobs upstairs if you could play with the kids ? ' and see if that works?

I like the idea of help being out there for folk struggling, I'd love to see more hours available and something more solid but I suppose that Cameron will be doing away with HS shortly if he hasn't already, along with everything else?

MajaBiene Mon 01-Apr-13 23:57:46

I don't think it's necessarily implementation so much as being realistic about what HS is/does. In your situation BadRoly it sounds like what you really could have done with was a mother's help type person. Social Services/HVs are also guilty of referring families to HS who need actual care/help rather than a supportive friend.

TheSecondComing Mon 01-Apr-13 23:58:15

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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