I moved from Eastern Europe to England two years ago with my husband and four children. I am expecting my fifth child imminently. My husband and I both receive the minimum wage. Our family live in a small 2 bedroomed flat.
When I started attending the Drop-in-group at the Meadows, Children and Family Wing, I was registered with ‘Homelink’ (band ‘C’) and had been unsuccessful in bidding for a larger property. Our flat is not good for a family of seven: the children sleep on the bedroom floor because there isn’t enough space for beds/bunk beds. My youngest child sleeps in my bedroom; but we cannot do this when the baby is born.
I am finding it really difficult to climb the 28 steps to the flat while pregnant and with a young child to carry and this has impacted on my physical health. I am suffering with severe back pain and I have recently been referred for physiotherapy. This condition is very debilitating and is impacting on my ability to cope with family demands. I am very worried about how I will manage the steps when the baby is born and I fear that it could be potentially dangerous to carry two children. I am also concerned that this may also aggravate/have a detrimental effect on my current physical health issues.
I have suffered with post-natal depression before and I am now really worried about our housing situation. I feel very lonely and do not have any support, this is causing problems with my mental health; parenting and home life. Initially, I found it quite daunting to attend a new group as I lack confidence and have low self-esteem. I found the staff really welcoming and supportive. I was able to share my problems with the Family Support Workers and this immediately made me feel that someone was listening to me in a non-judgemental and sensitive way. I was able to discuss my feelings in relation to my mental health. The Family Support Worker helped me consider my emotional difficulties and negative thoughts and how anxiety can affect the body, thoughts, and behaviour. We discussed ways for me to manage my emotions and feelings.
I had been feeling very anxious in relation to our housing situation – I have found it very difficult to engage with Housing Services without any support, and was finding the situation arduous and unsettling. The Family Support Workers, at the Drop-in-Group, encouraged me to identify my own needs for housing and we were able to compile a list of issues relating to the current property. As English is my second language, I found this support very helpful. The Family Support Worker made a referral to Housing Support Services and worked in partnership with the Agency. I was unaware that this Agency exists and supports people in my situation and I felt an enormous sense of relief that there is support available. The Family Support Worker also submitted a supporting letter to ‘Homelink’. Since the application to Housing, the housing banding has now been increased to a band ‘A’; consequently, my family will have a higher chance of bidding successfully on a larger property. This will provide my family with a safe, secure environment and improve the conditions in which we live.
I feel more relaxed as a result of the support I have received and the changes in my housing situation. I feel more aware of options and support available and feel more able to make informed decisions. My anxiety has been reduced and I feel better able to cope with preparations for the new baby and with family demands. I am very grateful for the support I have received from the Family Support Workers; they have been able to spend time listening to my problems and offering support, whilst my children enjoyed playing in a safe, stimulating, and fun environment.