Judy is a volunteer, and lives onsite at Small Steps as the overnight caretaker. She is the one that is there when the young mums can’t get the baby to sleep, or just need an ear to listen. To the girls, Judy is more than a volunteer, she is mentor.
Judy comes from Hobart’s suburbs where everyone knows each other, and would always help out, but she would never get too involved.
She has always seen a need within the community for a type of program like Small Steps and now feels that she is fulfilling her role and purpose in the community and it ‘feels good’.
“One of the girls came over several times in one night just wanting to chat, each time leaving happier than before. [They] just want someone to listen to them and someone they can trust to be there for them.”
“Sometimes there are challenges with the girls but we sort it out through talking about it all,” Judy said.
Working with the young mums requires building trust, having respect and building good communication in all areas, not only with the mothers but also with the children.
Judy experiences a development in the children as they become more comfortable and warm around her.
“It is all about being a listener, a sounding board and communicating in ways that the girls feel comfortable, which includes texting”, jokes Judy who says she has no idea about texting and emailing.
Judy loves the banter, the chats and overall fun that they have. There are communal pizza nights where everyone comes together one night a week to have a meal and learn what it is like to be part of a community and to also build friendships.
Judy plays an integral role and yet she describes herself as ‘not really feeling that what she does is that special’.
“That is all that I do,” Judy stated, and yet without Judy and volunteers like her, Small Steps would not be able to function as a ‘live-in’ facility for the young mums and their children.
Not only does Small Steps offer accommodation, education, parenting assistance, and skills and development to young mums, but it also offers hope and a future.
“Sometimes the girls just need some quiet time to themselves if they have had a hard night or if they just want to be on their own but they know I am always here for them,” says Judy.
Small Steps has volunteers attending the program throughout the week to assist with different training and education courses such as cooking and budgeting as well as offering emotional support.
For more information on Volunteering Opportunities, click here.
For more information on the Small Steps Program, click here.