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  • • Nearly half of children in care have a mental health disorder
  • • 4.2 million children in the UK are living in poverty
  • • Nearly half of children in care have a mental health disorder
  • • 1.4 million children & young people have a probable mental health disorder
  • • 1 in 5 babies aren’t receiving their entitled health visiting check at one year old
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“When Barnardo’s makes a promise, they keep the promise.”

With Barnardo’s help, one young mum went from feelings of isolation and post-natal depression to speaking up for others at the 2023 political party conferences.

Background

Corrine, aged 24, is a young mum living in Glasgow. She’s previously received mental health support from Barnardo’s and here, she shares her story…

“I got in contact with Barnardo’s when I fell pregnant just before the first lockdown in 2020. I wasn’t in a great relationship at the time – I had to make some tough choices. Obviously, I chose my boy. But it wasn’t an easy process and Barnardo’s supported me through that and with my mental health as well.”

Image of children at picnic table

Support from Barnardo’s

“I had my wee boy in May 2020. We were in the middle of the [Covid-19] pandemic at that point and I had really bad post-natal depression.”

“At the time, I had different services contacting me via the phone, but nobody was doing home visits… My Barnardo’s support worker was phoning me every week, sometimes two times a week and on one occasion, he phoned me and we just had a normal, chilled conversation…”

“He said ‘hiya’ and asked me how I was doing. I told him about my plans for that day and he must have known something wasn’t right – but I was playing it off and acting like I was totally fine.”

“About half an hour later, he got me the help I required. That was the first time a service had noticed my post-natal depression.”

During this time, Corrine was admitted to hospital to receive care for her post-natal depression. While she was there, Covid-19 safety regulations meant that she had to stay isolated within her social bubble. Her Barnardo’s support worker made sure that she wasn’t alone and worked with the hospital to ensure he could continue supporting her – as well as making sure her son was looked after by Corrine’s parents.

“With lockdown, nobody else was in my bubble apart from my boy. So that was a fight at first. But my support worker managed to fight enough to make sure he was allowed to be in meetings with me at the hospital and he managed to make sure that my son got looked after as well, with my family.”

“The support he gave was amazing.”

“I remember phoning him one time when I was really unwell in hospital and he said, ‘no matter what time it is, phone me if you need me.’

“One time, I phoned him when I was struggling in hospital and he sat on the phone for over an hour talking me through it. No matter what time it was, he was always there.”

“Barnardo’s is the only service I feel as if when a promise is made, a promise is kept.”

Changes needed in government

For Corrine, getting access to mental health support hasn’t always been easy…

“When I first started with my depression, it was a struggle to get the government to even accept me to get mental health support.”

“I remember phoning the doctors and I could just never get through to them. If it wasn’t for my support worker at the time from Barnardo’s, phoning and actually emphasising that I need support, it would have been a different story. It would have been a totally different outcome in the end.”

“For young people today, the waiting queues are so long for mental health support that people are getting to a crisis point. Early intervention should be starting much sooner rather than waiting up to a year and a half on a waiting list.”

“I think that’s the same for diagnoses as well. A lot of people are on waiting lists to be seen for things like ADHD and autism. If you went to the hospital with a broken arm, you’d get seen straight away and with mental health, it shouldn’t be any different.”

The stigma of asking for help

Regarding mental health support and being a young mum, Corrine has a message for other young people going through the same experiences as her…

“I think people think about social services and they think, ‘they’re gonna take my child’. And when social services refer you to a place like Barnardo’s, they think ‘Barnardo’s are gonna take my child’. But it’s not the case. Services are literally there to help you as a person and as a mum.”

“I want people to know that it’s okay to say that you’re not okay and it doesn’t make you a bad mum. You’re better off speaking out because places like Barnardo’s can help you become a better person for you and your baby.”

Cost of living

Here, Corrine shares how the cost-of-living crisis has affected her and her son…

“The cost of living has affected us as when we are going out for the day, I’m always looking for the cheapest options. With food shopping, I’m trying to work to a budget but doing this is so hard with ever rising costs.”

“When I go shopping with my little one, they’re always asking for things which makes it even harder to stay within budget.”

“The rising cost of living has definitely affected my mental health. I’m now doing less things for myself as the price is, most of the time, far too expensive.”

“When I was under 25, I was receiving less Universal Credit than someone over 25 would receive. How is that fair? It felt like my family was less important than other families.”

“I think there should be a standard rate across Universal Credit. I was doing adult stuff from the age of 19 when I was pregnant with my son and I wasn’t out partying or things like that. But I was getting less, even though it wasn’t my choice at the time to leave employment – it was due to being pregnant.”

Speaking at the 2023 political party conferences

In October 2023, Corrine, along with a group of other young people supported by Barnardo’s, attended the Labour and Conservative party conferences to speak with decision-makers and share her experiences.

“It was a really, really good experience and definitely not something I’ve ever experienced before.”

“The first night we were there with five other charities [speaking of the children’s charities coalition], and I think that had a really empowering effect because it wasn’t just Barnardo’s saying the same thing – it was all of them coming together.”

“The next day, we had the roundtable event and that was really good because we were talking about different funding. We talked about a lot of things in that discussion, like Universal Credit for example… I shared about how I was getting less Universal Credit than a 25-year-old, and I was able to express that I’m a mum and my family isn’t any less important than other families.”

“It was really great to see that people were actually on side with us and projecting our voices.”

“They [the politicians] had the same respect for us as everyone else around the table – rather than just speaking to us as young people who don’t matter.”

Corrine today

Today, Corrine and her son are doing well and Corrine now works with Barnardo’s.

“I feel like I’ve done a 360 turn. My mental health is so much better now.”

“If you told me four years ago where I’d be now, I wouldn’t have believed you.”

“I think, when you’re in a dark place, you just don’t know where to turn. But I can always say that when Barnardo’s makes a promise, they keep the promise.”