Home-Start South East Dorset

In recent months, I shared a post about a charity who visited us weekly to help out with whatever my family needed. Today, this charity gave me permission to share their name, and as part of volunteer week, I am very honoured to do so. Thank you Home-Start South East Dorset for everything you have done for us, and so many other families.

This will be a long post…but it would mean a lot if people read it.

Last September, when I started this page, I was in a desperate place. My eldest’s assessment for ASD didn’t seem to be going anywhere, and we were told it was unlikely that he would gain a place at our local school, for unrelated reasons. My youngest was flagged up as having ‘behavioural issues’ and just months before, I had been diagnosed with a chronic illness, after being told ‘it was all in my head’ for several years prior. Many people expressed their opinions about my children, and my parenting…and one day…it just all got a bit too much…

I felt that I needed a place to vent my frustrations, to have a voice, to find people who got it, to educate those who didn’t, to promote awareness and subvert the misconceptions…and so, at that moment, SEN Child of Mine was born.

Simultaneously, Home-Start came into my life. Well, our lives. My health visitor contacted them on my behalf, as she was concerned about me coping with two ASD children whilst suffering with chronic illness, and a short while later, they got in touch. I was adamant I didn’t need help, but the team clearly saw something I didn’t.

They encouraged me to accept the support and it was at this point they really came into their own. They get to know you, and their volunteers, so well, that the matches they make are amazing. In my case I have made a very close, life long friend in a volunteer who is autistic, like me, and has autistic children, like me.

We played with the children, we went for walks, we baked biscuits…but most importantly…we talked. I have a wonderful family who continue to be such a great support network, but this new interaction made such a huge difference to my emotional well-being. She not only ‘got me’, she lived it, so offered valuable, first-hand advice. She made me feel so validated and accepted, as an autistic person and mother, and I really looked forward to seeing her every week. I have had many people question my autism, and she helped me ‘let the mask slip’, as it were.

During lockdown, we have kept in touch, as have the team, and we were even gifted some Lush products to get us through.

People turn to Home-Start for different reasons, but I am so grateful to have met them, and of course my friend. We are so similar in our views and behaviours, and we both share the same passions and drives regarding helping other people like ourselves. Needless to say, we have lots of plans to take this further as our children grow.

Due to everything they have done for me, I will be volunteering with them in some capacity, and have found a new professional focus for the next stage of my life. I will share this with you at another time, but they are supporting me in this venture, and I am extremely grateful.

Home-Start help families in a plethora of ways, so please don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it. They are warm, friendly, non-judgmental, and are doing such good in the community. And of course, you can always get in touch with me.

Equally, if you want to help their charity, perhaps you could consider making a small donation, or offering your services. I have added a donation button to this post on Facebook, and have started it off with £5. Please do not feel obliged whatsoever…I just wanted to do something personally to promote them and thank them for all the good they do in the community.

If you got this far, thank you so much for reading.