Families lifeline: ‘I put the phone down and felt better’

Parent Helpline...Pictured is Volunteer Dot Balcombe
Parent Helpline...Pictured is Volunteer Dot Balcombe
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One 20-minute phone-call to Parent Lifeline.

That’s all it took for Jane Heley to find herself.

She had split from her partner and was raising their children, Kasalina, then six, and Paulo, then four.

“There were days when being both mum and dad to the kids, trying to keep the discipline and the nurturing going and keep myself strong all at the same time was really hard. Occasionally things got on top of me,” says Jane. “Looking back, I could probably handle those days easily now. But at the time I was still quite wobbly after the relationship breakdown and that affected my confidence as a parent.

“Bringing up children in the hardest job in the world because it’s the most important one. And you don’t get a day off when things get difficult,” she says.

“I rang Parent Lifeline; I can’t remember where I got the number from, but I wanted to speak to another parent who didn’t know me and never would. That made it OK to tell I was struggling to cope.

“Actually, making the call was easy.It felt good just to talk about how I felt to someone who had no prior knowledge of me and was calm, patient and a good listener.

“At the end, she said: ‘You know where we are if you want to call again.’ I never did need to.

“Once I’d put the phone down, I felt that little bit better and got on with my afternoon with the children. Slowly but surely, I started to move forward.”

Jane underwent cognitive behavioural therapy to strengthen herself emotionally and landed a new job – she is now a family intervention worker for Sheffield City Council’s children’s services. She went on to find happiness in a new relationship and had her third child, Max, a year ago.

Three years ago, she became a Parent Lifeline volunteer; she wanted to be the voice on the receiving end of the phone.

“I’d had a rough patch and come through it to create secure new family unit for me and my children; I wanted to help other parents who felt as I once had,” says Jane,

For two hours a week, after she’s put her children to bed, she sits in her living room in Nether Edge and waits for the phone to ring.

n Parent Lifeline’s helpline is open 9am-1pm Mon-Fri (excluding bank holidays) and 7pm-11pm every evening (including bank holidays) on 0114 2726575.