Cristina is a lone mother with 3 children who has lived in Westminster for the past 6 years. Her oldest child, who is 10 years old, suffers from severe learning difficulties and behavioural problems.

Due to a delay in diagnosis, Cristina spent many years feeling guilty for her oldest child’s condition and felt judged by society for what she perceived to be a result of poor parenting. Suffering from this guilt led her to develop depression and other forms of mental distress.

She was referred to Westminster Befriend a Family by her GP and she was subsequently paired with a family befriender, Jane. Jane and Cristina developed a trusting relationship over time and Jane was able to provide support to the family. Cristina and her family valued the chance to share their feelings with Jane.

Cristina also participated in one of the parent support groups that Westminster Befriend a Family facilitates. This gave her a chance to discuss her situation with others who listened and cared and assured her that she should not feel guilty. She participated in a one off self-defence lessons organised by the group, as well attending a talk on learning disabilities that was again organised by the support group. Cristina has made the most of activities offered by Westminster Befriend a Family; she has even recently taken a cycling lesson for the first time. This has helped her develop as a mother, build relationships with other parents and to cope with her own mental health difficulties.

Her children were also able to access other services provided by the charity like swimming and martial arts lessons. Through these opportunities her family has been able to develop skills which otherwise they may not have been able to. Cristina now feels like she can be a more supportive parent.

Please note: we have used stock photography and changed the names to protect the identities of our families.