Homestart is an amazing charity with so little recognition its silly, some people may have heard of home start, others may automatically think of it in the same way as sure start centers or such schemes. Homestart is different. Homestart really makes a difference.
So what 'does' homestart do...
they do so much but from the words of homestarts website
"Home-Start supports almost 73,000 vulnerable children across the UK. Last year, our 16,000 volunteers gave a million hours of support to their families. We help them cope with post-natal illness, isolation, bereavement, disability, domestic violence and much more"
So what does that really mean? it means that in most communities across the UK there are homestart schemes running, often quietly giving much needed and much appreciated support. The Team consist of Trustees, a manger, and organizers who look after everyone in their scheme, they enrol families and train the volunteers, then there are as many volunteers as the organizers can find and train who like me, give up just a few hours of their free time each week with no payment to go and help another family. To offer support in almost anyway possible, they help by just being there, by having that time to really care, to reassure and give confidence to stand with them at mother and baby groups so the new mum is not isolated, to help take twins to doctors appointments or toddlers to the park to run off that energy, they help mothers whos family live miles away, or families who have suffered bereavement, familes with multiple births, or special needs, offering a real person who genuinely cares and is there to help talk things through, to sign post you to services who can help and to have a non judgemental, confidential listening ear, they help support families to enable them to make it through difficult times without the need for intervention from elsewhere, sometimes just a friendly face is all anyone needs.
Homestart not only help the very poorest of families or those at most risk, they offer their support to anyone, of any race, social class and situation, their only criteria is that you have a child under 5, it is a great support to families with multiples or those who have partners who work long hours, or people who are new to an area and just need a friendly person to show them around.
"Many parents need help, friendship, advice or support during those early years when children are young. There is no rulebook for raising a family and sometimes it can seem overwhelming, particularly if your family is going through difficult times."
Homestart volunteers are not social workers, they are not there to judge or tell you what to do, they are there to reassure and support, they give confidence and offer both emotional and practical support. Volunteers are not perfect they are not special they are simply parents who know how hard it is, we volunteers are real people who really care and that is what makes homestart such an amazing support network.
With alot of funding being taken away from services like homestart, now is more important than ever to help raise the profile of the schemes that really do work, that really are making a difference, homestart is one such scheme.
If you can take 10 minutes of your day to read this, to pass it on, to talk about homestart then that is a help, if you can support your local scheme in anyway by doing any funding or by raising its profile it will be appreciated, if you would like to become a volunteer or know more then contact your local scheme it really does make a difference!
And lastly, homestart does make a difference to families the volunteers really do help, but the course to train the volunteers is an amazing experience and being a volunteer is rewarding in itself so not only does homestart help the families it supports, it helps the families who are volunteers too.
Take a look here for some videos of how homestart makes a real differance: Videos and Podcasts
Be sure to watch Actor Max Browns Appeal.