Single mum-of-four Hayley and her family originally self-referred to us so that Hayley’s youngest son could attend one of our MySpace courses – (our treatment and recovery group for children exposed to domestic abuse) in early 2020. This course was completed in February, but when Children’s Support Worker Gemma reached out to the family in early April, it was evident that Hayley herself needed extra support to cope with lockdown and anxieties around Covid-19. Gemma used her background in counselling to listen and reflect, helping Hayley process her anxieties and feel better equipped to support her children, who were equally worried and unsettled. Hayley tells her story…
I work in the local hospital and was, at the time, on the frontline of the Covid-19 pandemic. My fear of the virus due to the amount of death I witnessed at work and the anxiety that caused at home with the children was a real challenge.
At the beginning of lockdown I was working long hours and extra shifts, as many of my colleagues were off work with Covid-19 symptoms. With four children at home, I would come in from work, and send the children into the living room as I washed my hands then went to shower straight away. I spent more and more time in the kitchen on my own and was too scared to hug my children for weeks for fear of passing something on to them. I put in place a rigorous routine of sanitisation. Now I see that this was a way to control my anxiety about spreading the virus. As well as working, I made sure to phone the children at 9.00 o’clock every morning to make sure they were all up and doing their schoolwork.
When Gemma reached out from Welcare to check up on us I was feeling overwhelmed and overworked, and I was so grateful to have that support. We already had a relationship in place through the group work in MySpace, and having a friendly and supportive voice made all the difference. I knew my children were anxious and scared as well, and didn’t want to show them how much I was struggling, so had been bottling a lot up. Throughout lockdown I had regular telephone contact with Gemma, who listened and reflected back to me a lot of what I was feeling. I knew I could confide in Gemma without judgement, and she reassured me that I was doing a great job and helped me feel more capable.
The weeks passed and the number of patients with Covid-19 lessened, and I could finally have days off to be at home with the children. I realised in retrospect how stressful this time had been, but I definitely felt more relaxed and less fearful towards the end of my telephone contact with Gemma.
Gemma and our other Child & Family Support Workers have continued to reach out to families and single parents who have often been isolated by lockdown, as well as families feeling anxious about things like returning to school amidst the pandemic. If you want to find out more about the support we can offer, please contact your nearest Centre.