“Patch was a lifeline for me.”
Mum-of-two Kirsten McCartney is in no doubt about the debt she owes to Hartlepool’s family support centre.
It will just be such a loss to the community, it really will.Kirsten McCartney
The 41-year-old moved to Hartlepool more than three years ago, shortly after the birth of son Evan. Her partner Brian is from the town.
Since then the couple have welcomed the arrival of one-year-old Callum.
“I was new to the town, with no friends, no support. I had just had a new baby and did not know anybody,” said Kirsten.
Patch outreach co-ordinator for family support Sue Currell visited Kirsten and helped her through the early stages of being a mum.
“I think it is frightening, having children, it is frightening to be in that situation where you are entirely responsible for that person. I think a lot of people will identify with that.
“Sue used to come out and visit - she has just been an unbelievable support. She can give you advice as a parent that probably a health visitor couldn’t.
“As skilled as health visitors are, and as great a job as they do, they can’t support you in the same way.
“It may be there’s not actually ‘wrong’ that a health visitor could help with, it is about giving support to somebody who may not necessarily even know they need it.
“It is about understanding and reflecting what your needs are.”
Kirsten is devastated at the thought of Patch closing its doors: “It will just be such a loss to the community, it really will,” she said.
“Because people don’t realise what they do here. A lot of the work at Patch is safeguarding.”