Becoming a first-time mother is hard work. If you are a single mother, it is harder work. If your child has significant health issues, it is harder still.

Kimberley is deeply in love with her son Declan, but their first two-and-three-quarter years together have not been easy. Declan has epilepsy, and Kimberley has had to learn a lot in a hurry about how best to manage his health issues.

In her hometown of Taree, Kimberley has support from her father as well as good friends. However, when she first came into contact with the ParentsNext program, delivered by Bamara, she was doing it tough.

“When I went to Bamara to do ParentsNext, I met my Support Mentor Marlee things weren’t so easy, but she was amazing,” Kimberley says.

“She is always very encouraging and supportive. It was important to me also that she was always so great with my son.”

Taking on one of the most significant roles anyone can face – mother to a toddler with health issues – Kimberley told Marlee that she felt she would benefit from some further advice and support.

“I did counselling through them, and it was the best thing for me at that time,” Kimberley remembers.

“They put me with a lady, Nicole, who did the counselling who was really helpful. To be honest, I think I would have gone insane without the sessions with Nicole. She was really great.

“I wanted to get my confidence back and feel good in myself again. After a few sessions, things turned the corner and I felt a lot better.

“After that, we talked about getting back into working, strategies for employment, and what my goals are. ParentsNext offered a lot of other programs and workshops, not all of which I could do at the time, but they were all-round amazing.

“Marlee is always so bubbly, happy to see me and Declan, ready to have a good conversation. She always says that if we need anything we shouldn’t hesitate to call.”

There is a lot of truth in the old cliché about it taking a village to raise a child. In Taree, Kimberley knows that she has a lot of supporters who want the best for her and Declan, and will take practical action to help her make her goals into realities.

With shrewd medical care, Declan’s seizures have reduced significantly. Kimberley has a lot of reasons to feel positive about the future for herself and her precious son.