7 August 2019
Rebecca's Story - Help up to help families flourish
“Living with a child who has ongoing challenges from abuse he suffered at an early age as well as my own mental health issues is hard! The ongoing respite at Cholmondeley, allows me and my children to rebuild as a family unit and gives my kids the best start in life”
This is Rebecca’s story and hearing her tell it continues to remind me that together we can make a difference.
Rebecca spent the first years of her children’s life in an emotional and physically abusive relationship. Her youngest child Harry was caught up in the abuse and as a result suffered a broken leg. In the early years of one’s life - when love is replaced with violence by a male figure who is meant to care about you, not hurt you, this really takes a toll. Rebecca was finally able to break free from the cycle of abuse and received court orders to allow her and her children to move away from their violent father.
Being a single mum and moving to Christchurch where she had little support was hard, but at least she felt she was finally able to start to rebuild her family. However being alone with the children was difficult and cracks were starting to show for her youngest child Harry. It was clear the abuse he suffered was having a detrimental impact and was affecting his sleeping, eating and ability to manage his emotions. Those around him were also suffering. He was angry and violent towards his sister and difficult for his mother, Rebecca, who was trying to survive and provide for her children on as little three hours sleep a night. Rebecca tells us “It really felt like the weight of the world was on her shoulders and she really had no idea who to turn to”.
It was at this point Rebecca and her children were referred to Cholmondeley Children’s Centre. At Cholmondeley, we aim to create a safe and stimulating environment to support the children and their families in a time of need. We are here to ensure that we can give children and their families the respite they need to keep going, and to support parents like Rebecca to build her family unit again.
It has been four years since Rebecca, Hannah and Harry walked through the doors of Cholmondeley and life can still be hard at times. Rebecca and the children are in a much better place, but she still has many challenges to overcome. Managing a child with high needs, plus her own mental health issues means she always needs to have strategies in place to give her family every opportunity she can to grow together. Without Cholmondeley Rebecca said “I really have no idea how I would have ended up”. In stressful times when the children are at Cholmondeley, Rebecca is able to use the break to develop coping strategies for herself and the family. For her it is a lifesaver.
Here at Cholmondeley we aren’t just the band aid, it is the ongoing support and ability for children to stay (often every six weeks for up to seven years), which makes a significant impact. Whilst every family has a different situation, the need they have is not unique - Rebecca needed support and respite to be able to really focus on bringing their family unit back together.
Watching Rebecca smile as she talks about the change in Harry since coming to Cholmondeley is humbling. He is planning to go to school camp in a few weeks and Rebecca cannot believe this is the same child. Rebecca explains “he is so comfortable taking these next steps and Cholmondeley has definitely been a part of that change, along with the resilience he has built up by being supported each and every stay.”
Thank you for letting me tell Rebecca’s story today and for taking a moment to think about how you can continue to support Cholmondeley Children’s Centre.
Cholmondeley Children's Centre