"I’m finally able to enjoy life."

By Lucy Summers | Posted: Tuesday November 28, 2017

We talked to Jodi, a Family Start client, about the support the programme and her whānau worker have provided.

“My name is Jodi, I’ve had 5 kids, but only have 1 and a half in my care (I have shared care of my oldest daughter). I first joined Family Start when I was 16 and had my oldest child, who is now nearly 15. I contacted Family Start just before Nirvana was born as I had previously battled addiction and recognised I needed support."

Jodie said, "I knew it was going to be difficult. The Ministry for Vulnerable Children, Oranga Tamariki became involved and were going to have custody of Nirvana once she was born, but with my support network, we managed to keep Nirvana in my care. I ended up going to a supported living home in Christchurch and then was able to get custody. Now, 9 months later, Oranga Tamariki are not involved at all!"

"Now, I’m definitely more confident with my baby and, working with my whānau worker Nicole weekly, I’m finally able to enjoy life. I have made some new friends and increased my social network. When Nicole comes out to visit, we read books and play games with Nirvana while we talk for the whole hour."

I’d say to other mums or dads thinking about joining Family Start to definitely go for it. The support and knowledge that the whānau workers have really helps with everyday situations. We are a bi-cultural family, so Nicole has given us some Te Reo books, which is really cool – I wouldn’t know where to find them. Nicole brings an activity to try out with every visit.”

Whānau worker Nicole says, “Jodi’s description is very modest. Both Jodi and Nirvana’s father Dylan have completed extensive individual work in the last year, including training through Te Wānanga o Aotearoa, where Jodi was asked to facilitate a Te Reo class. Jodi has advocated for herself and her whānau extensively, attended parenting programmes, worked with Arai Te Uru, Pathways for Women, and both parents have attended counselling. Alongside this, Jodi has had surgery and has somehow managed to meet and engage with me weekly. Nirvana’s lovely nature is a testament to the time and effort both parents have put into their daughter’s life.”