To 18 month old Cara, a hairbrush was a weapon – used against her and her mum by Cara’s dad when they made too much noise. As a result, Cara was extremely scared of brushes and other things that her dad used as weapons.
Cara and her mum Susan fled their home late one night following a particularly violent episode and arrived at a women’s refuge. They arrived with just the clothes they were wearing. They were terrified and exhausted. Susan was extremely upset because they had left most of their things behind and had brought nothing to change into for bed. They had grabbed a few things in a garbage bag as they left, but not thinking clearly, not much of it was useful.
Thankfully, the refuge had Buddy Bags with basic, essential items for Cara, such as pyjamas, a toothbrush and socks. The bag also had a hairbrush. When the refuge worker showed this to Cara she became hysterical and was difficult to settle into the strange new cot. The Buddy Bag also had a teddy bear which reminded Cara of the one she had left behind and she eventually nodded off clutching ‘Googy’ to her chest.
Over the next few days, Cara learnt that the hairbrush did not have to hurt. Her mum Susan learnt to soothe Cara by gently stroking her hair with the brush. They would sit for ages – mum healing her hurt and sadness and connecting with her baby girl. Cara learnt that life can be safe and hairbrushes can be nice to make your hair – and your mum – shine again.
Susan also loved the Buddy Bag because it gave her a way of being like every other mother. Instead of putting her spare nappies, wipes and bottles in a plastic shopping bag, she had a practical backpack to store Cara’s things in as life began anew.
- Lee Cameron, Head of Care
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