Home-Start Case Study 1: CLARE

CLARE is a young mother, who was living happily and uneventfully with her family in a small Suffolk village until the day when her husband  – only in his early thirties –  had a catastrophic heart attack at home in front of his wife and their two tiny children.And died tragically and completely unexpectedly.

While the details are unusually sad, young parents are bereaved in Suffolk every week through accidents and illness.

Clare’s situation was brought to our attention by her health visitor. A Home Start coordinator visited, and found Clare to be in a state of shock and mourning.

Her baby was only a few months old and had obviously no recollection of his father, but one of Clare’s daily difficulties was that her other child, a toddler, remembered him clearly and was always walking around looking for her dad and asking where he was.

Clare also had– quite understandably –  developed a huge dislike of being in the house because her husband had died in it. She didn’t want to live there but she wasn’t able to move  and so she tried to get out of the house whenever she could because she found the images and memories of the past were too overwhelming to deal with.

A more practical problem was that because the children were so young, she never really had any time to start or finish things in the home.

Clearly Clare needed some practical help from a comforting presence. Many Homestart volunteers are specifically trained in handling bereavements. A suitable volunteer began visiting Clare at home at the beginning of the year. Within a short time the little children had warmed to the volunteer – which allowed Clare the chance to lave them and get on with household tasks,  deal with bills and letters – and even grab a few minutes on her own.

Clare is particularly happy with this support because it enables her to stay at home for one day a week without feeling scared because there is another adult in the home.

She also likes the fact that her volunteer arrives first thing on a Monday morning. Clare had found the weekends particularly difficult because that is when her husband had been there all the time and they had been abler to do family things together. She says that it is nice to have an understanding person  arriving on Monday to talk to and share her thoughts and worries with.

Her volunteer is there support Clare as long as she needs it but then she will move on…

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