TV show Masked Singer reaches out to Suffolk parents

Home-Start in Suffolk has partnered with ITV's The Masked Singer to encourage parents to not struggle on their own.

Home-Start in Suffolk has partnered with ITV's The Masked Singer to encourage parents to not struggle on their own. - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown/Vincent Dolman/Bandicoot TV/ITV/Getty Images

An Ipswich mum has revealed she would sit and cry once her children were in bed because of the pressure she was under - but now TV show the Masked Singer is helping to address that stigma.

The TV show has partnered with national charity Home-Start UK for a new campaign entitled 'Behind the Mask', which aims to encourage parents like Natasha to speak out about the hardships they face in parenting, particularly during the pandemic.

Home-Start in Suffolk, which is part of the nationwide charity, say parents often feel they are forced to hide their struggles and fears 'behind a mask' - just like the secret stars of the singing show.

Through the partnership with the Masked Singer they are sharing stories via social media from parents about the day-to-day realities and struggles they face.

The Suffolk charity supports around 600 families each year and provides support through one-to-one home visiting, telephone, virtual calls and dedicated groups. 

Natasha, 29, of Ipswich, is just one of the hundreds helped by them this year, and like those featuring in the social media videos, she urges others to contact the charity rather than hiding their true feelings.

She said: “Social media, and peer and family pressures, make it hard to admit sometimes when things are difficult. Sometimes, even what appears to be a simple task can become too much.  It might look great on the outside but someone might be struggling to cope and not showing this to the outside world.  

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"I know I felt like I wanted to hide away and found it difficult to share how I was feeling, worrying about the stigma of not being the perfect parent. Once the children had gone to bed, I often found myself crying and feeling really alone."

Anthony Horowitz MBE, presented the long service awards to volunteers from Home- Start in Suffolk.

Home-Start in Suffolk received the Queens Award for its work. - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

The mum-of-two continued: "The pandemic really made me feel even more alone. My struggles were not visible, people couldn’t see it."

However, with the help of one of Home-Start Suffolk's 270 she was able to 'drop the mask' and work through her concerns.

She said during the pandemic, her connection with the charity was a lifeline.

"When telephone support was my only form of communication with Ali, I would be waiting by that phone. Sometimes that call was my only communication with the outside world all week. The calls really were a lifeline for me.”

Urging others to speak up, she said: "Talk to someone. Don’t be afraid to ask for help."

Home-Start continue to support Natasha, especially over the Christmas period when parents who are struggling can feel the burden of delivering the perfect Christmas.

Natasha added: “I wanted to make Christmas nice for my children, but it was going to be struggle and I knew I had to make choices. 

"Home-Start passed on presents for my children which had been donated by the community along with some wrapping paper so I could actually wrap them myself, which was a great help. They also gave me a voucher towards my food shopping which has made it so much easier, knowing I can keep the house warm and not worry as much. 

"I really can’t express how much Home-Start support has done for me.”

Tara Spence, Chief executive of Home- Start in Suffolk. Picture: Sarah Lucy Brown

Tara Spence, Chief executive of Home- Start in Suffolk. Picture: Sarah Lucy Brown - Credit: Archant

Tara Spence, CEO of Home-Start in Suffolk, praised the partnership for starting a conversation online to encourage families who are struggling to "come out from behind the mask". 

She said: “Parenting is a tough enough job as it is, but with the added anxiety and stresses of Covid lockdowns, financial pressures, health-related concerns and for some, bereavements, it has been a really difficult couple of years for families.

"We hope The Masked Singer provides some much-needed light relief but also starts an all-important conversation about seeking help and where to go for help if it is needed. The need is growing as more families than ever before are finding they need support.”

To support the campaign or share your experiences use the hashtag #BehindTheMask.

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