Silvia[1], a single parent with four children, was referred to Home-Start Southwark by her health visitor after having her fifth child. The family lives in a three bedroom, third-floor flat with no lift. Silvia has no extended family support and she has mobility challenges due to her weight which also affects her ability to look after her children.

family-imageSilvia’s mobility issues meant that her older children acted as carers for their 5-year-old sibling and helped care for the new baby although this was not recognised until Home-Start became involved.  Silvia relied on her two eldest children to do the school run which resulted in poor attendance at school for her 5-year old and raised concerns about the older children’s ability to cope and lateness at school.

We worked holistically with the family by offering emotional support to Silvia, spending time playing with the younger children and talking to the older children about how they felt about looking after their sibling.

Home-Start arranged a Team Around the Child meeting with the primary school, Occupational Health and the secondary school where attendance issues were discussed and Silvia’s 5-year-old was offered free breakfast and a place at the after-school club during the term.  As a result, the 5-year-old had to be taken to school earlier with improved school attendance from 54% to 97% and the older siblings were able to get to school on time. Silvia also agreed to Home-Start making a referral to Young Carers so that her older children could get some respite and support. Occupational Health also put in mobility equipment to help support Silvia to be more mobile around the home.

The intervention helped Silvia meet the needs of her children which then allowed her older children to be children again without worrying about their younger siblings.

[1] Names in the case study have been changed and the photograph is not of the family