Father inspired to volunteer after a little help from his friends
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When Darren Badger received a court eviction notice through his letterbox on 20th November 2014, he faced the prospect of losing not only his home but also his five young children.
The 46-year-old, of Northfield, Birmingham, had desperately been trying to put food on the table by working 12-hour long shifts as a bookie at Hall Green Raceway as well as Betfred. But while the father-of-five put his energy into providing for the family financially, his partner of 17 years had spiralled into drug addiction. This chaotic home life meant the children’s wellbeing had started to suffer and the family racked up debts of more than £4,000.
The children were placed under child protection for up to two years and, following an ultimatum from social services, Darren made a couple of life-changing decisions. He separated from his partner and quit his two jobs so he could concentrate on caring for the kids full-time.
“The first time I sat down with them and they gave me the ultimatum and said if things don’t change we’re going to take the kids, it shocked me so much – I thought: “I have to leave my job and get on with looking after my kids and moving forward.” I couldn’t do that before because my partner would tell me one thing and social services something different,” Darren explained.
Darren was granted full custody in June 2015 and since then his children’s emotional wellbeing and performance at school has improved in all areas.
Donna Hicks, support worker at Bromford, said: “Darren has worked proactively with all the agencies; determined to provide the loving home environment all of the children craved. His engagement has been above and beyond, with him making big and brave steps to ensure the wellbeing of his children.
“Schools have congratulated him on the complete turnaround which is reflected in the children’s attendance, physical appearance and confidence. One child has progressed by two reading levels since our support started.”
One of Darren’s ambitions was to redecorate his children’s two upstairs bedrooms but because of addressing ongoing payment plans, it was a goal he was going to find hard to achieve on his own. Donna took an idea back to her team and within weeks a date had been set to complete a 12-hour DIY SOS-style makeover using materials donated from different businesses.
Darren and Donna prepped the rooms before the rest of the volunteers turned up with purple and blue paint, brushes and overalls to complete the transformation in time for the children returning from school. This also included hanging brand new curtains and adding duvet covers onto each bed.
Darren added: “You couldn’t even imagine the look on my youngest daughter’s face when she came in – she was so chuffed and immediately went to lay on the bed wrapped in her new duvet in a big starfish shape. She was so happy as were all the kids.
“I’m so grateful and I’ve said that any work that any other families need doing, I’ll happily volunteer my services. It’s the least I can do to say thank you.”
Donna concluded: “There is so much love in this family. Darren has strengths he didn’t even recognise while his family was in crisis. But largely through his own determination he has rebuilt his family and given his children the platform to prosper.”