Do facts and figures win people over or is it a good story? I was asked by the Scottish Parliament’s Future Forum to show the benefits by the year 2025 of early intervention to help babies and parents who were struggling. At first I lurched into statistics on the health and economic gains and then I stopped myself. Instead I wrote this letter from one sister to another.
30 June 2025
I’ve wanted to tell you for years what a brilliant sister you are and to thank you. If it wasn’t for you, my life would be in a complete mess. I’ve never quite found the words so I’m hoping it will be easier by letter! Here goes…
Twelve years ago when I was 16 and the madhouse that was our home finally blew, you were 22 and getting on with life. I was still at school, a plukey adolescent discovering cider and boys.
I’ll never forget telling my pal during English that I was pregnant with John and the teacher telling me to shut up in class. But, looking back, John was more planned than I realised at the time. I think I just wanted some love in my life.
I hadn’t a clue about how to take care of myself, never mind a baby. Mum and dad not being there for me didn’t help but they wouldn’t have won any medals for being great parents anyway.
You were the one who cuddled me and put me up in your flat. If you hadn’t done that, well who knows, but John and me would likely have been written off as two more rotten Scottish statistics. I’d probably have been on the scrap heap with several more screaming kids in tow.
I didn’t really want Marie to come to the house but when you went on and on at me and sat with me for her first few visits, I decided to give it a go. By then I was pretty fed up with the social workers and all the different medical people who just wanted to prod me or poke their noses into my business. I felt like the first chocolate whirl going down a production line.
Well you know what Marie was like. She was a laugh. I thought she was OK because she seemed to understand me and she said I had more than mince between my ears. She was great in the way she found me a flat and got me sorted before John was born and then afterwards. Do you remember my pals were pretty disgusted because she helped me to breastfeed? I suppose she was a bit like a mum who has her marbles together and who helps with the new baby. I really got to know her over those two years.
Brian got involved for a few months … but really he was just a joke.
You and Marie helped me to realise that I could make a decent life for John and me. And I have done.
I don’t know if you know this but way back in 2013 Marie, who started out as a health visitor, was trying out a new approach called the Nurse Family Partnership. I was one of her first customers and it seemed to work out quite well because I saw something on the TV recently saying that now every teenage mum gets a Marie. They had some big professor on saying that, all in all, it’s saving lots of money. You can see how really. If I’d carried on the way I was, who knows how much it would have cost to pick up all the pieces for John, for me and probably several more kids.
Anyway, it worked for me.
I better end up now but John says hi and I say thanks again Anne. Hope it’s going OK down under.
Lots of love
PS I bought John’s new uniform today and, believe it or not, he can’t wait till the school holidays are over so he can go to the big school. Watch this space…