Today I’ve been at PANDA to start some training for a newish initiative they’ve become involved in – Homestart. Basically with Homestart I’ll be connected with a new mum near my home (usually a first time mum) and will visit her once a week for 3 hours to provide support. I’ve been volunteering as a phone counsellor for a few years now and while I enjoyed the interaction with the other counsellors, the staff at PANDA and of course the amazing people who took the courage to call in, the trek to North Fitzroy once a week was becoming difficult with work and other commitments creeping in on my time.
Because I still wanted to be involved with PANDA, I decided Homestart would be a great way to provide some peer assistance to women who need that little extra support. Some first time mothers can feel quite isolated, either because they have no family support or, even if their families and friends are around, they may find it difficult to understand or accept that their daughter, sister, etc, may not be coping. By visiting once a week for 3 hours, I’m providing some physical and moral support in a non judgemental fashion. AND you get the opportunity to hold a little baby then magically give it back again!
I wish I’d had this type of support when I had Mitch. While Anth was amazing support (and still is) I still remember feeling very isolated during the day, with only one friend who had a baby around the same age as mine (hi Michelle). We used to catch up once a week at North Road Pavillion in Elwood and that was my lifeline. That was the one constant in my life at the time which kept me sane…just. If I can help someone feel a little bit sane a little bit of the time, then my volunteering job is done.
Not everyone has the time to volunteer once a week but research shows that volunteering can be good for your own wellbeing. Even if it’s once a year, imagine the difference you could make in someone’s life – and your own.