As a single parent with seven-year-old twins and a full-time job, Lorraine’s life is inevitably hectic. Add caring responsibilities to the mix and life is even more challenging.
“One son, Alex, is autistic – a very bright boy, but he can have meltdowns,” Lorraine explains. “You try to treat them both the same, but you do have to treat Alex slightly differently and that can be quite hard.”
While her working life is very positive – Lorraine is PA to the Head of Drama at the BBC – home has become more stressful lately. “There’s a lot of shouting going on in our house at the moment,” she says.
“I try to get them out and to the park and stuff like that. But it can be difficult in some social situations and lately I’ve stayed in too much.”
With the after-school routine a constant rush, she says: “I think I just need to calm down a bit myself. I literally feel like I run around the house sometimes.”
The leaflet from Hillingdon Carers dropped onto her mat just as Lorraine was pondering what to do about her twice-weekly gym sessions – under threat because the twins’ father, who normally babysits, recently got a new job.
So Lorraine was delighted with the offer of home-based sessions with Don’t Tone Alone. “It was fantastic, actually!” she says.
“I did six sessions with Francisco. We did martial arts – boxing – but I think it depends what kind of person you are. I used to do martial arts when I was younger.
“We’d have a really good workout and mentally he just sort of calmed you down. He taught me breathing well and calming exercises. He was a very beneficial person to have around. There were a couple of times when we couldn’t make it and I really felt it and missed him!”
Lorraine feels she learned other new things that were really helpful. “He got me thinking. For example, there would be stuff on TV that you don’t need in your life – rubbish. He pointed out I had that on in the background. I wasn’t watching it. And, you know, he was right.
“It was also him who pointed out – you’re running around and you don’t have to. He just got you to think about life. Life lessons, I suppose.
“After the course, I emailed to say thanks. Sometimes people who do this sort of work don’t get feedback. I wanted to say this has been fabulous – really, really beneficial.”