Beating the Odds

By Anglican Family Care | Posted: Saturday March 14, 2015

Jess is a confident young Mum who’s proud of her hard work and accomplishments. She’s come a long way on a difficult road but has a  positive outlook for her future.  Jess credits her success to the support she found through Anglican Family Care’s Family Start Programme. 

When Jess discovered she was pregnant at the age of fifteen, she and her partner  decided to relocate to Dunedin. They moved in with her partner’s sister but it wasn’t long before Jess realised they were not in a good environment. “When we moved to Dunedin, I had no support,” says Jess. “WINZ turned me onto Family Start and that’s where I met Cathy. I instantly trusted her and she’s been with me from the beginning.”

Jess didn’t have a car or transport at the time which meant she had to walk from St. Kilda into town for appointments. She was relieved to discover that the Family Start programme was home-based. “It was really good that Cathy came to us,” Jess recalls. “It made life so much easier.”

The Family Start Programme focuses on improving children’s lives. Parents can join the programme during pregnancy, like Jess, or after their child is born, up to the age of one. The focus is long-term and social workers can work with a family up to five years. The goal of the programme is to help those who are struggling with challenges or problems which make it harder to care for their baby or young child.

Jess feels the programme has helped her immensely. “There’s no way I’d be where I am without Family Start or Cathy. They’ve helped me in so many ways.” As a young Mum, Jess found some aspects of parenting quite challenging. "Cathy provided me with ideas on how to deal with things and that was really helpful.”

Besides meeting with families in their homes, workers of the Family Start programme also accompany clients to doctor and other social service appointments. “Cathy took me to Restore when we needed furniture for our house and she also went with me to WINZ. Because I was young I feel it was good to have Cathy with me as a support. I wasn’t scared about going because of her. She has fantastic knowledge and I couldn’t have done it without her,” recalls Jess.

Jess participated in the Family Start programme for four years. During that time she and Cathy were able to identify and work on issues and problems that were adversely affecting her life as well as the life of her son. “It took a long time to admit and identify that I struggled with depression. Without Cathy’s help, I would have spiralled down and not sought help. Counselling was one of the biggest things she wanted me to do.” 

New Zealand statistics show that young mothers are less likely to be in education or employment.* But Jess has beaten the odds. With hard work and determination she has earned her NCEA Level III certificate and is currently employed. She also teaches dance and competes nationally. Jess sees herself as motivated and contributes her success to the support she received from Cathy. “She helped build my confidence,” says Jess. “Cathy helped keep me sane. She knew my headspace and always had a way of making me feel better. She made me not feel ashamed.”

It’s obvious that Jess and Cathy have built a strong and trusting relationship. Jess is happy for her success today but also broken-hearted to be exiting the programme. “It was sad to say goodbye. Cathy is the most steady person I’ve had in my life. She was always there for me. My son had such a good relationship with her too. She would bring him toys and he would always get excited to see her. He keeps asking when she’s coming next.”

In the end, Jess continues to carry Cathy’s advice in her life. “Cathy has always told me to take care of myself. I take that on board now and still make time for me.” Jess is hopeful for both her and her son's  future. She has set her personal goals high and hopes to compete internationally for dance. "I'm so thankful for Anglican Family Care," Jess recalls. "Without Cathy's encouragement, I never would have tried dancing. Now I'm motivated to take it to the next level."

For $30 per month, you make a positive difference in the lives of young mothers, like Jess, please consider becoming a donor.  Visit our website for more information.


**Statistics New Zealand, “Few Young Mothers are Engaging in Education”.