Blanka, her husband and their three young children have lived in temporary accommodation for almost nine years. They’ve experienced many difficulties living like this, not least of which is the overcrowding and safety concerns. But for Blanka more challenging still was the simple lack of community.
Family life suffers when there’s no community
She and her family found it hard to form a strong social network with other families on the estate. New families were always moving in and out, and the high turnover made it almost impossible to sustain any kind of friendship and develop a community spirit.
This is in stark contrast to the community Blanka experienced while growing up in her native Poland, where children would be in and out of each others homes, run around and play together while their parents could socialised, take a break and get whatever help and advice they needed. Blanka became more and more concerned that her young family were missing out and would never get to enjoy the benefits of a strong community and she was keen to turn this around.
Creating strong community bonds
Through her involvement with Westminster Befriend a Family (WBAF), Blanka was able to slowly create that strong community bond she so craved. By taking part in many WBAF programmes, such as the twice-weekly mothers’ coffee mornings, the annual family Christmas party and the occasional special family fun day out, Blanka got to see the same families on a regular basis and build close friendships with other mothers in similar situations to herself.
Westminster Befriend a Family was also able to help her find regular swimming lessons for her children, which as well as helping them overcome their fear of the water, increased their self-confidence and helped them find and make friends with other local children.
“I feel blessed”
Supporting Blanka over the years has helped her find the confidence to alleviate the isolating home life her family was experiencing. “Westminster Befriend a Family and the other families supported by the charity have truly become my community and the community for my family,” she said. “I really do feel exceptionally blessed.”