Simona and Vivine’s Story

Simona and her two sons – Yusef, 9, and Sabir, 2 – found themselves in a dire situation when she heard that her partner would be unable to be in the family home for 15 months.

As a result, and while pregnant with their third child, Simona was suffering from depression trying to cope in their small flat on the 12th floor. Her low mood, isolation, stress and anxiety were all having an impact on their sons’ mental health and the health of their unborn baby.

The boys were also finding it difficult to cope with their Dad’s absence. Yusef was used to him helping with his homework and without his support he was falling behind at school. Simona has Carpel Tunnel in both wrists, making even simple tasks difficult; without Dad around, nine-year-old Yusef had taken on responsibility for the household cooking and cleaning. Meanwhile, his younger brother Sabir was spending all day in the flat with Mum, which was having a negative impact on his behaviour.

With family and friends back in her home country of Czechoslovakia, Simona was not able to call on them for help. The children’s father also had no family living in England and the lack of childcare support meant she was struggling to access her counseling sessions.

Simona was introduced to Home-Start volunteer, Dianne.

Dianne helped Simona with phone calls and paperwork, and accompanied her to appointments, provided an extra pair of hands with shopping and enabled the family to visit the park. She also helped Yusef with his homework, and obtained two-year nursery funding for Sabir, at a local nursery.

The whole family really enjoyed Dianne’s visits and school’s feedback regarding Yusef’s progress was excellent.

The baby’s due date was fast approaching and Simona’s Brother and Mother managed to come to England from Czechoslovakia to stay with the family to help. Before long the new edition arrived, Sara a beautiful healthy baby girl.

Home-Start support was extended beyond the expected length of support, although mum and brother were staying with the family to help, neither of them could speak English or had any money/income, so there were still some ongoing needs. This is when Vivine stepped into the volunteer role visiting the family every week.

“Vivine built a fantastic bond with the whole family, helping Yusef get into afterschool clubs and boxing at the St John’s Centre”, explained Home-Start’s Co-ordinator

“She also helped Simona with the boys’ boundaries and behaviour, did homework with Yusef and entertained Sabir with fun activities.”

“Vivine is so good at helping with my homework when I am stuck on something” chips in Yusef, “and I love my after school activities.”

Vivine also found ‘English for Speakers of other Languages’ classes for Simona and her brother, accompanied the family to Yusef’s Parent’s Evening, where they were delighted to hear about his positive progress, and helped sort out milk vouchers and benefits when they were curtailed.

“HSTSW support has been wonderful”, says Simona. “They have really helped me and my family get through this very difficult time.

I feel less isolated and more confident and although I am still very worried about what is happening with my husband, I feel that there is enough support around the family to help us get through it.”

To find out how you can help support families like Simona’s take a look at our donations page, sign up to become a volunteer or become one of our corporate partners.