For the past year, Sian Evans has been volunteering with Home-Start South Warwickshire. Spurred on by her time spent with mums who have experienced domestic abuse, and their children, she ran this year's London Marathon to raise money for Home-Start UK.
Here, acupuncturist Sian tells us why running for Home-Start is so important to her.
“I’ve never been much of a runner but around five years ago I did the couch to 5K. It was a game changer. Since then every year I do a 10K run. I’ve never run a marathon before so it’s a little scary, but after seeing the amazing courage of the mums I come into contact with through my volunteering for Home-Start, I’m determined to give it my all.
I volunteer at the Freedom Project at Home-Start South Warwickshire, which is a course for women affected by domestic abuse. I’m in the very lucky position of being the one who gets to play with the babies and toddlers in the crèche while their mums attend the group".
I see huge changes in the children
"The course runs for ten weeks. In that time I see huge changes in the children. I looked after one small child who never made eye contact or showed any expression. His mum was doing an amazing job, but she was in such a bad place herself it hampered how she was able to interact with him. By the end of the course he was holding eye contact and smiling back. While this may have been helped by the interaction he had at our crèche, it was also a clear sign that his mum was starting to move to a better place emotionally.
We recently had a four year old boy who was autistic. He’d shout and scream all the time. His mum was unable to send him to nursery or go to any play groups so they tended to stay home. Another mum at the group brought some sensory toys for him. I played with him and he loved the sensory toys. Over the weeks he really calmed down, and is now attending nursery".
Putting smiles on faces
"Spending time with the children you can see that many are not used to affection. When you show them some attention they really come out of their shell. This is why I wanted to run for Home-Start. Through volunteering I’ve seen how much children are affected by their home environment. And I’ve seen how they, and their mums, progress and develop with a little support. How they smile much more easily and are able to find the space to build meaningful bonds".
You can come out the other side stronger and happier
"On the next course I’m looking forward to volunteering more directly with the mums on the counselling side. I’ve experienced domestic abuse in my past so I understand what it’s like to be in that situation. But I also know that you can come out the other side stronger and happier. You just need that support. So, I will push myself to limit to help ensure we can continue to be there to support mums and their little ones to overcome the situation they’re in and move on to a happier place.”