I am a recently retired Health Visitor which is where I knew about Home-Start. I was a young mum myself however I was lucky to have the support of my family, husband and lots of friends. But being a Health Visitor I met various young mums that do not have that support and care which is why I started being a volunteer for Home-Start. Knowing I can still help families whilst being retired is brilliant.
The prep course gave me lots of general information and paper work that I could refer to if or when it was relevant, since the course I have now supported over 8 families. Befriending a family is very rewarding and has given me a sense of satisfaction knowing that I can be there for them through a difficult stage and give them emotional or physical help.
Being a volunteer for Home-Start Redbridge has made a big impact to my life and the families we support. Having somebody to lend a hand during stressful and challenging times these families have faced gives them a sense of direction and understanding to how they can overcome their stresses, fears or difficulties. Just offering practical support with the children or around the house can make a big difference to these mothers and their lives.
I found that the co-ordinators are excellent at matching volunteers with families and were very supportive during the time I was with each family. Having Sonia and Shahnaz being there is a great support for the volunteers, advising and helping with complex situations. I would recommend anybody that has the spare time to volunteer for Home-Start and see what a difference you can make to a family’s life.
My name is Lara and I am a part- time parent support adviser for a local primary school. Home-Start has been involved in my family with supporting my sister in law so seeing the help she received made me want to become a volunteer and share my knowledge and experience with families that need that extra help.
Having some spare time to give and having had the relevant experience of working with children at the school I feel that volunteering with Home-Start would be a great way to help families that are in need. After my interview I attended a 10-week prep course which I found to be really interesting which prepared me for the types of situations I would encounter. The course also taught me strategies to support others and how to protect myself if situations was to become complex.
Since completing the course I have supported 3 families. I have always been open minded but this work has helped me understand situations more and how people find themselves in difficult and worrying circumstances. The families I have helped have been given the confidence to be parents, befriending a mum and being that friendly listening ear really helps overcome stresses and worries of being a parent but also helps to prevent isolation. Being a parent myself it is so important to have someone there when times get too much.
Home-Start is a great charity that support families in need without discriminating financially or socially. The organisation not only provides great support for the families but for their volunteers too, the staff are fabulous and I know I have a great support network too.
Sandra has two children and the eldest of the two, Micky, has severe Autism and at the time of referral to our service he had almost no speech. Sandra was at home alone with the children and was finding it hard to stimulate and support Micky’s development while also meeting the needs of her daughter, Lily who she felt was being neglected.
At the point of referral Sandra was feeling as if she could no longer cope. We reassured her we would be able to help and we quickly matched her with a volunteer, Alice. Alice visited Sandra each week and enabled her to have one-to-one quality time with each child, reducing Sandra’s feelings of guilt and developing her positive relationship with each child. Micky became less distressed and unsettled as he learnt to trust another adult.
Alice did much more than simply provide respite for Sandra. She helped her to take the children out, reducing the family’s isolation. She provided Sandra with emotional support, listening to her fears and reassuring her that she was able to cope with her children. Alice found out that Sandra felt very judged by her extended family who felt she was not coping with her disabled child and was failing to juggle the needs of both children. Alice helped Sandra to see her family had unrealistic expectations and supported her in identifying other sources of support so she was less reliant on her family. Alice also chased the Speech and Language Therapy referral – Sandra had been waiting for Micky to access Speech and Language support for over a year but did not know what to do about this. Alice advocated for Sandra and Micky until the Speech and Language Therapy started. Sandra describes herself as delighted with the differences in her family: Micky’s speech is improving and he is less distressed and unsettled, Lily is happier and engages in play with her mother and Alice, Sandra feels more confident, less isolated and better able to cope and there is less conflict between her and her extended family.
Amina is a Bengali woman with two children aged 10 and 3. Her husband died suddenly when a routine operation resulted in a punctured lung, leading to an infection from which he never recovered. Amina’s husband had always worked and had taken responsibility for everything outside the family home. Amina spoke very little English.
When Amina was referred to Home-Start Redbridge via social services, a staff member undertook an assessment visit. There was no food in the house, the phone had been disconnected and the heating supply cut off. Amina’s husband had a bank account but she did not know how to access this. She had not made a claim for benefits. She had been served an eviction notice by the landlord. She explained she was unable to stop crying and she had not been taking her eldest child to school.
Staff from Home-Start obtained vouchers from the Food Bank, arranged for her phone to be reconnected, took her to the CAB to enable her to claim benefits and liaised with her utility suppliers and landlord to prevent eviction and to restart her energy supply. She was matched with a volunteer who visited weekly and initially focused on helping her talk through some of her grief and learn to manage simple tasks without her husband, including shopping and paying her bills. Over time, the volunteer helped Amina gain the confidence to attend ESOL classes. Just over a year after her husband’s death. Amina gained employment in the retail trade and felt confident enough to support her children and provide for the family without the support of Home-Start.