Volunteers at Home Start offer lifeline to struggling parents

Volunteer Gael Morling (right) with a parent she helps

Volunteer Gael Morling (right) with a parent she helps

First published in News Wilts and Gloucestershire Standard: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter

A SINGLE mother has said her life has been turned around thanks to the vital volunteers of a Cotswold charity.

Three years ago Rachael Humphrey, 39, lacked confidence and self-esteem after two tumours in her feet left her in immense pain. Her marriage, which she claimed was not perfect before the tumours, soon broke down and she was left left caring for her then seven-year-old son and eight-month-old daughter alone.

“I was perfectly active three years ago,” said Rachael, who is from Cirencester. “But then I was really struggling with my failed relationship. I wanted to find someone to help me.”

The mother-of-two was put in touch with Cirencester Opportunity Group, which then led her to charity Cotswold Home Start.

“My family live quite far away,” said Rachael. “There have been some really tough times but life with Home Start has been amazing.

“I couldn’t even begin to tell you how I thought my life could not get any better. I am still on my own but it’s much easier. I’m so much happier now.”

The volunteers at Home Start aim to help the parents in families, rather than the children, in any way they can. Volunteer Gael Morling, 43, helps Rachael by simply being there for a chat.

“I am here for Rachael,” said Gael, who has three children of her own, all under 10-years-old. “We just talk. We visit coffee shops and talk all the time.”

Rachael admitted that she could not even play with her children because of the pain in her legs, something she sorely misses.

“It’s really nice now, when I’m on my own, to remember that Gael is there for me. I feel she understands me and knows me. I feel normal around her and know she won’t judge me,” added Rachael.

Home Start trustee Katharine Campbell said when she first met Rachael three years ago, she asked her to score herself on her self-esteem, isolation and confidence.

“She gave herself zero on every question,” said Katherine. “But now, she is such a positive person. It really brings a smile to my face.”

Rachael has already started making plans for her future, something she had not considered before. She is thinking of going to university and studying for a teaching degree.

Another Home Start volunteer, Jill Coupland, 75, has been regularly visiting a mother who has just had twins, one of which has a serious heart defect, for nearly three years.

“I have twin grandchildren,” said Jill. “The emotional help I give the mother is how to cope. I do anything she wants. If she wants me to cook a meal, or care for the baby, or just listen to her, then I will do that.

“Sometimes she just needs a bath without the children.”

To find out more about volunteering visit home-start-cotswolds.org.uk

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