"It’s all about having my worker’s support."

By Lucy Summers | Posted: Monday May 28, 2018

Hannah* from North Otago talked to us about how our Family Start programme for babies and their parents has helped her through tough times.

Hannah is a young mum from Oamaru who was “looking for ways to become a better parent”. She felt she wanted to look after her kids better, use different parenting techniques and learn alternative ways to approach family routines.

A friend of Hannah’s was working with Sue, a Family Start whānau worker, and recommended the programme. Hannah already had a four-year-old and decided to seek help when her second child was born. “I didn’t have the support of Family Start with my oldest son, but I thought why not, it’s a different avenue – someone else to support me.”

So she enrolled with her youngest son and hasn’t looked back. Hannah says that Sue has been really supportive and that she understands her well as they both come from a country background. “Sue can understand my train of thought, which has helped a lot.”

When Hannah has a particular parenting difficulty, Sue gives her pamphlets or advice, and even advice from personal experience, which really helps.

“We meet weekly or fortnightly ­– Sue pops out to see me and the kids, and we just talk about what needs to be talked about. If there are any problems, they are brought up and sorted out.”Hannah said she would definitely recommend Family Start to other people. “Not everything works, and every child is different, but it’s all about having my worker’s support,” she goes on to say. “I am allowed to contact Sue anytime which has been good for my peace of mind.”

At the moment, sleep is an issue for Hannah’s children, so she and Sue are working through a range of practical ways to get them to settle in the evening.

“Family Start has definitely helped me feel more confident. The whole experience has been invaluable. I’ve been involved with Oranga Tamariki and Sue has helped me right through that process, even with my oldest boy who wasn’t actually enrolled with Family Start.” Sue was able to help get him into the early intervention system, which Hannah has found to be really helpful.

Even when the family were moving house, Sue helped in all sorts of ways, including helping Hannah find the furniture she needed. She also helped source clothes for the kids. “And when she hasn’t been able to help directly, she has pointed me in the right direction.”

Find out more about our Family Start programme which is available throughout Otago.

*name changed to protect client privacy