Sandra* and her children received gifts through the Toy Appeal last year. We wanted to share their story with you to show you, with the right support, what a difference a year can make. By supporting Together at Christmas, you can help turn around the lives of families like Sandra’s.
This time last year, Sandra was struggling to see the light at the end of the tunnel. She had been through a horrendous experience – severely assaulted by the father of her three children. Due to the extent of her injuries, she spent weeks in intensive case, and because there was no extended family to care for her children, they were moved to foster care for this time.
After she recovered, she was reunited with her children and moved to a women’s refuge. Although now safe in her accommodation, Sandra was still struggling to get by after her traumatic experience. She was finding it hard to implement boundaries and routines with her children, and her eldest wasn’t going to school. She too had dropped out of her training course, leaving her feeling hopeless about the future.
At this point, Sandra was referred to Family Action and one of our outreach workers, Jenny, began to support her. Jenny built up a relationship with Sandra over several weeks, visiting the refuge and helping pick her children up from the temporary nursery.
Jenny was a lifeline for Sandra. She liaised with the women’s refuge to help her get school places for her children and start counselling – going with her to the first session as she was feeling so anxious. With Jenny’s help, Sandra was moved into a new home with her children. At first this was unfurnished, so Jenny applied for a grant for new beds, curtains, washer, cooker and toys and clothes for the children. Jenny also helped Sandra attend play groups with her youngest child to help her meet other mums in the community.
Christmas can be a struggle for many families – with expectations to buy presents and give children the best possible experience it can put a lot of pressure on parents. However for Sandra’s children, it was even more important to provide them with a stable Christmas. Jenny ensured that Sandra’s children were all signed up to receive a Christmas present through Family Action’s Toy Appeal. As well as toys, the family were given a donation of decorations at Christmas. Without these they wouldn’t have had anything to help them celebrate.
This year has been a brighter start for Sandra and the children. The two older children are now settled and thriving in their new school and the youngest has a place at a local nursery. This has meant Sandra has been able to return to her own education. Thanks to the counselling she now attends regularly, she is much more confident and happy to go out on her own.
Sandra still attends a parenting course with Family Action, but on the whole Jenny’s work is done. Sandra has told us she loves her new life and the support she has received has restored her faith in humanity.
*name changed to protect identity