Samantha Dawson, now a happy and healthy student midwife, suffered from an extreme form of Postnatal Depression which kept her virtually housebound with her young baby. She says that she thought about killing herself many times after the birth of her son, Brandon.
“I fantasised about taking an overdose,” said Samantha. “Or I’d plan to drown myself or cut my wrists.”
By the age of 17, Samantha had been a victim of domestic violence and was living in a women’s refuge. Pregnant and isolated by her family, she was eventually housed on the Hemmingwell estate.
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But the birth of her son was difficult and Samantha lost a dangerous amount of blood. In the weeks and months following Brandon’s arrival, she says she thought about suicide constantly but had no support from health professionals.
Talking about the vital importance of maintaining the Home-Start charity service in the town, Samantha explained that it was a Home-Start volunteer who was the only person to reach out to her.
“I was on the edge of either killing myself or losing my child. But Home-Start assigned me a wonderful volunteer who encouraged me to leave the house and helped me to bond with my child. She made the bad days bearable and was there for me no matter what,” said Samantha.
The Wellingborough Home-Start service, which pairs local trained volunteers with vulnerable families – including suicidal parents of young children – is currently under threat due to funding cuts. The charity has been operating in the Wellingborough area for the last 20 years, providing a unique service with weekly visits to families who are in need of support.
Samantha was assigned the same volunteer for around 18 months, who supported and advised her on emotional and practical issues until she felt strong enough to cope alone. She says she now has a lovely relationship with Brandon – now 16 years old – and is due to complete her midwifery training in 2019.
“Parenthood is not plain sailing,” said Home-Start Wellingborough’s manager, Janet Sanders.
“Many parents in the town and surrounding villages struggle with suicidal feelings and depression. Feelings of isolation and loneliness are very common amongst new parents for all sorts of reasons.
"Our charity trains volunteers who know all about the difficulties of parenthood and matches them with families going through tough times. As the NHS and social services are stretched to breaking point in the area, many of these parents have no other support to get back on their feet and suicide becomes a very real threat.”
Home-Start Wellingborough and District will close next year if regular sponsorship can’t be found. The charity now needs its own dramatic rescue.
“We desperately need local people to help support us because without local help, many families will simply fall apart,” said manager, Janet.
"This week sees the launch of our Changing Futures campaign, to find two thousand local people willing to donate £3 a month. That will enable us to continue working with Wellingborough’s fragile families.”
Individuals can donate via http://www.homestartwellingborough.org.uk/donate