Home-Start match volunteers with families to provide support and encouragement to overcome and cope with the challenges of having a young family. Our volunteers offer up to 2-3 hours a week of their time to support the family. A paid worker will complete an initial visit with the family to identify specific aims that the volunteer can support with.
Just some of the areas our volunteers have supported during 2017:
- Finding and helping to access community based groups to increase social networks (including our own groups)
- Supporting families to prepare a child to be school ready
- supporting with multiple births or multiple sibling families
- Support when a parent had regular hospital treatment for cancer
- Financial/benefits advice
- Completing forms
- Attending official meetings with settings when retaining information was an issue for a parent
- Cooking lessons.
- Support to access swimming where disability in either the child or parent is a barrier
Our team of volunteers come from a wide variety of backgrounds and experience and have all completed a 40 hour training in-house training course and have enhanced DBS checks. The training helps them to understand what they might encounter when home-visiting a family, as most will not have done home-visiting before. The over-riding strength that our volunteers bring is an empathy from being a parent themselves and a desire to help others.
In addition to the core service of 1:1 volunteer support we offer a number of other groups and projects, all of which are referral only.
Mental Wellbeing Project supports parents with a diagnosed mental illness such as depression or anxiety using the Home-Start ethos of 1:1 volunteer support and also encouraging to access the wellbeing drop-in group.
Big Hopes Big Future is our school readiness project. We have worked with a number of infant/primary schools over the last two years and have developed a programme that has had fantastic outcomes for the children who have participated. Working in partnership with schools improves parent/child engagement in the school environment and encourages the parents to identify areas where strategies can be used to help ensure their pre-school child is prepared to start school and begin learning in a school environment. We are keen to speak to pre-schools/schools who feel they could identify families who may benefit from early support.
Wellbeing Drop-in provides companionship to parents who have a diagnosed mental health issue such as depression or anxiety and provides play opportunity to the children.
At the end of each session there is focused topic to explore ways to improve wellbeing these will be either delivered by a staff member or a third party e.g. I-talk, Relax Adults, Art as therapy.
Basingstoke Family Group provides opportunity for social interaction and network building for Mums who may not feel confident in accessing universal toddler groups elsewhere. Many of the families who attend have complex needs. The group is structured with chat/play time, craft, snack, clear up and rhyme time.
Multiple Birth Group supports parents of twins/triplets fortnightly. Our volunteers offer help with the children, preparing and serving lunch and offering companionship and an understanding ear to the parents.
Finally I would like to thank all our referrers for their support and patience over the last 12 months. We have a number of new staff members who are settling in well to their new roles as well as a number of new volunteers. Moving forward into 2018 we very much hope to manage the waiting list so that we can remain open, but sometimes the demand far outweighs the number of volunteers we have and it’s safer for us to close to new referrals. We only closed for 4 weeks during 2017, but no doubt for any referrer who tried to refer a family in that time it felt like much more, sorry! As each of the families is unique, so are our volunteers and sometimes we have to wait for a suitable volunteer to be available to match to a family. We are starting a new volunteer prep-course in April so please spread the word if you know anyone who you feel might like to join our volunteer team.
Jools Anderson – Scheme Manager