My name is Amanda and I am a Home-Start Volunteer in the Biggleswade and Sandy area.
I have two young children; a boy age 10 and girl age 8 and have been volunteering with Home-Start for 4 years! I also volunteered with Christian Family Care at Manor Farm and also with Sweet Peas which is a support group for parents with children on the Autism and ADHD and was first introduced to volunteering through a friend.
I had to give up teaching to look after my son who is on the ASD spectrum. I knew that I didn’t want to do nothing and really missed teaching so thought that volunteering with Home-Start would be a perfect way to give back to families in my community and I liked the idea of being able to help a family who was struggling. I have since been helping families who are dealing with lone parenting, severe depression and multiple births. I support them through practical help and signposting to other agencies for more support. I have also supported families with children who have ADHD or Autism with parenting strategies. I am also able to help put things in perspective sometimes, especially with families who are feeling overwhelmed.
I don’t think you can really support parents if you aren’t one yourself. Parenting is so complex and overwhelming at times, you have to understand the challenges that parents face and the anxieties, even if they are different to the one’s you have experienced at least you have some idea of how it feels. I have learnt so much through my time volunteering. I think I have realised that I am bomb proof. Nothing that somebody tells me will shock me. I have realised that I am much calmer than I thought and realise that I am able to calm another parent too and help them feel less overwhelmed. My own confidence and self-esteem has increased a lot. I guess sometimes you feel so insignificant as a mum. Your just a mum and you never feel as if you are doing something really worthwhile but when you can use your parenting experience to make a difference in another families life, it really does make you feel so good.
I spent a couple of years supporting a family where the mum suffered from severe depression and anxiety. She would not leave the house with her children and was adamant she would not send them to school as she was so fearful that they would be bullied. After some time I managed to convince her to go and have a look at the local nursery. The day I accompanied her and she registered her children there, that was very inspiring as I knew that I had played a role in getting those children the opportunity to learn and develop. Seeing lives change and get better over time, that is so rewarding, knowing that you are making a difference just by being there for someone.
I think every parent should be a volunteer. Just to be able to give a couple of hours a week to help another family is so worthwhile.
Are you a parent or grandparent living in the Sandy area? Contact us now to start your rewarding experience of volunteering in Sandy, Bedfordshire.