Have You Ever Heard of Home Start?
This morning we had our first visit from our Home Start volunteer.
Home Start is a charity set up to support families who need a little help. They provide volunteers who will visit a family and offer support and guidance on a variety of different things. Home Start is a relatively small charity, but they offer an invaluable service, going out into the community to help families who might otherwise feel isolated or struggle with things like post natal depression, bereavement, mental or physical disability of a child, or perhaps just trouble getting used to parenthood. Their services are available to all families with a child under five. Their website says they aim to create “ a lasting, positive impact on the development of children and the health and welfare of the family.” I was referred to them by my health visitor but a lot of people refer themselves to the service. Until the health visitor mentioned them, I’d not heard of Home Start before, so I thought I’d write a little post about them, in case anyone else could do with knowing about their services.
My volunteer is called Dawn, and she is lovely. She turned up this morning with flowers, coffee, cake, and a gossipy magazine for me. Who could ask for more from a visitor?
Dawn will visit us once a week for as long as we need her support. The idea is that she will be someone to chat to (moan at!), distract Samaire while I make important phone calls that might prove difficult without that help, and to come to appointments with me to do the same sort of thing. She can’t babysit for me, but she will come to the council/CAB/solicitor/whoever and keep Samaire entertained while I sort things out. She is also there to come to mother and baby groups etc with me if I don’t want to rock up on my own, which is handy.
Today we just sat and had a coffee and a chat; Samaire and Dawn got to know each other, and I filled Dawn in on our story and why I feel I need the extra support of having her in my life right now. For me I think a lot of my benefit of having Dawn visit will be that I’ll actually have to get things done. It’s been easy to put off making phone calls, booking appointments, because there was always something to distract me. If Dawn has come round specifically to play with Samaire while I call the electricity company about my incorrect bill, then I may actually get around to making that call!
Home Start offer support to families in the UK, but also to the families of British Forces personnel in Germany and Cyprus, which is something you don’t often think about with these sorts of things. As they are a charity, they rely on donations and sponsorship to keep going – and, of course, volunteers. They currently have around 17,000 volunteers who go out into the community to visit families, and another 2000 who run their local offices. I am sure they will always welcome new volunteers though so if you have free time that you’d like to spend making friends with a family and playing with kids, click on over to their website and take a look!
One great way you can support Home Start without even really trying is by going to this site and signing up; then they will donate a percentage of the cost of anything you buy through their site. You still shop at the normal websites, and it doesn’t cost you a penny!
I will leave you with a quote from their website, which I liked:
If families crumble, communities disintegrate, children suffer. By working in the home to make families strong, children thrive. So we help give children the best possible start in life by supporting parents as they grow in confidence, strengthen their relationships with their children and widen their links with the local community. We work with the families who, for whatever reason, aren’t getting the help they need. Very often we’re the last chance they have.