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Saving lives, supporting families

Sarah's Helping Hands Experience

7th July 2018

Our Voluntary Support Practitioners make it possible for us to run out Helping Hands service. Read our chat with Sarah who helps us support families and tells us about the difference it can make to them.

Please can you tell us about your role now?

My role at Tamba is a Voluntary Support Practitioner for Helping Hands. This involves going into family settings, assessing the situations, before identifying and prioritising areas of need.

Then I provide practical parenting advice and support. This can including weaning, sleep training, structuring routines, behaviour management, potty training, getting out and about, general tips, and managing techniques when dealing with multiples in general (for example, how to bathe 3 crying newborns simultaneously, despite only have 2 hands whilst a two year old is running around!) 

How did you hear about Tamba’s Helping Hands service?

I was introduced to Tamba through Norland College, who are big supporters of the charity.

What made you decide to volunteer as a support practitioner?

As a Norland Nanny, I do feel that sometimes, only a certain kind of clientele get to benefit from my skill set and experience. These people aren’t always in crisis and need my support the most. By donating portions of my free time, I get to make a huge difference to the lives of the multiples I meet, and their families. The feeling I get from helping families, and giving them the tools they need to tackle future problems with more ease, gives me the passion which fuels my desire to reach as many families as possible. 

What types of families have you supported?

I’ve helped lots of different families, dealing with all sorts of pressures. A lot are families with a parent suffering PND, anxiety, or grieving the loss of a parent. Many are also parents diagnosed with illnesses such as cancer, or those affected by poverty. Another is those who suffer from family related circumstances. For example, a house on fire and families overwhelmed with the reality of life with twins or high order multiples.

What kind of support do you offer?

I go into family settings and build a relationship with them as a unit. Every child is different, and there are no blanket solutions when it comes to individuals. I get to learn about the children in a way no other process would allow, therefore providing the child with the best quality of care. And it’s often far quicker than it would otherwise be because you know them from a unique perspective.

We often start by discussing what they think is the issue. Through good communication and observing the situation, I can quickly gauge what the problem is and diagnose it. Then, I give them the respite they need so they are ready to deal with the issue head on. We discuss solutions that are tailored to their family’s needs. Then I always like to walk through it with them to give them more confidence and so they can see it works.

Then after that, I believe it benefits the family if they’re left to implement it, as that’s such a key parenting role. Meanwhile always remain available for telephone support and follow up visits if necessary (should circumstance change and/or the children take a developmental leap). Support practitioners play a unique role to these families that no other health care professionals can; teaching them parenting skills that are crucial for bringing up multiples. It enables them to deal with whatever life has dealt them, making sure they don’t feel alone or suffer in silence until everything is out of control. 

What difference do you think you make, and the service as a whole makes to families in crisis?

I think the service is invaluable. So often the things I advise on or become areas of concern are so rarely things parents can identify themselves. I think the circumstances these parents are in can be so overwhelming and immersive that it’s hard for them to compartmentalise what they aren’t coping with.

They have asked for help because they know something isn’t working, but they don’t know the source of the problem. Becoming a parent is life changing, becoming a parent of multiples intensifies that change. But to then add into the mix, these awful events and situations that these parents are also dealing with makes you realise how vulnerable and isolated they are.

The Helping Hands project allows parents the same right to a positive parenting experience that everyone else has. We can’t take away the pain or turn back time, but we can give these parents the guidance needed and the support of knowing they are never alone. 

What is the best thing about volunteering as a support practitioner?

I love offering families practical advice and support. It’s the sort of aid that can make an immediate difference to a family’s life. There’s nothing more satisfying than having all babies fed and happily asleep at the same time. It allows me to watch the physical weight of stress leave parents and it empowers them to take each day as it comes in the knowledge they have the skills and love to handle it.

If you think you, or someone you know, may benefit from our Helping Hands service you can find out more about the support available here.


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