This year has been tough for many of us, and saw the first quarantine since the 14th century. However, many families across Southend-on-Sea reported many benefits of the lockdown in our COVID-19 Impact Report, published in August.

Caterina and her family are no different, and although she faced challenges, our Volunteer Home Visiting team at Home-start Essex helped to find long-lasting support and friendship for her.

On the 13th March 2020, Caterina referred herself to the Volunteer Home Visiting service and received a call back from the team shortly afterwards. At the time, Caterina was moved to Southend Westminster, London, by Social Services after a domestic violence incident in November 2019.

Caterina reported feeling lonely and isolated, despite her family – who were visiting from Italy and unable to get home due to UK government guidance – living with her at home. Although they were very supportive and helped with the children, Caterina wanted to make new friends within her community, as well as boost her self-esteem.

At the time of support, the Volunteer Home Visiting service were unable to visit Caterina at her home, because the UK was in “lockdown”. However, Caterina was offered weekly phone contact which she gratefully received with the hope that, once restrictions eased, she could meet a new volunteer. During the support, Caterina’s mother became ill – although it was not clear if it was COVID-19 related or not – and she needed to be registered at the local GP so that she could receive medication. Our Volunteer Home Visiting team were able to help with the registration forms, which was very helpful for her.

As lockdown measures eased, Caterina was introduced to her volunteer, Molly, on the 1st June. Molly has been keeping in touch via weekly calls with Caterina and her family, and has encouraged Caterina to make friends, which she now has! Molly’s role of support for Caterina will continue into future as Caterina’s family have been able to fly back to Italy, which Caterina has said she had got used to their support. However, Caterina has begun to build her confidence by attending a course for confidence building and has begun her journey in volunteering for A Better Start Southend to support other parents.

Caterina’s personal journey in finding new friends and navigating services in Southend with a positive outcome is one to celebrate. Our Volunteer Home Visiting Service have been instrumental in supporting her along the way. Caterina shows that there is still a reason to celebrate, even in times of adversity.

If you would benefit from the same support received by Caterina, contact our Home-start Essex team on 01245 847410!

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