I would like to introduce Home-Start, the other local charity we will be supporting on our Christmas challenge, written by their Peri-Natal co-ordinator, Beccy Impey.
Home-Start is one of the UK’s leading family support charities, a voluntary organisation offering support to families who have at least one child under five when family life becomes difficult. All round the country, local schemes recruit and train volunteers to support local families with young children at home.
Home-Start Cambridgeshire’s aim is to give every child the best possible start in life. The ethos of the charity can best be described as ‘One parent helping another parent through a difficult time.’
Our service supports families, through weekly volunteer home visits, to deal with diverse concerns such as parental mental health issues, isolation, postnatal illness, disability, bereavement, multiple births and parenting skills. We also support families in group settings in Chesterton, Cambridge and Wisbech. We also support families with a Buggy Walk Group in Huntingdon.
Our trained volunteers provide tailored practical and emotional support to help parents and children build confidence, independence, resilience and community connections. Our volunteers go in to families homes to help with routines, getting out of the home, attending appointments, offering a listening ear or looking after children so Mum can concentrate on something else.
This early intervention service offers a gateway to many other community services and we work in partnership with them to improve the life chances of our families and young children.
Christmas is a particularly difficult time for families, especially the ones that are already struggling. HomeStart Cambridgeshire have been very fortunate recently to be able to obtain funding to allow for Christmas to be a little more special for some of these young children.
Last Christmas we were lucky enough to be able to fund 2 Christmas parties for the families we were supporting. The local community were able to help us to have our parties at local soft play centres for a discounted rate which meant that there would be no cost to the families that attended. HomeStart were also able to provide presents for all of the children that attended the parties, these came through fundraising and gift donations from the local community.
As well as being able to provide gifts for children who may not get any other gifts at Christmas, we were able to support with food hampers that meant that the struggle of providing extra food and supplies for the Christmas period were taken away from the families. We are also able to provide practical support around age appropriate gifts for the children and helping Mum’s get to shops to buy the presents if anxiety makes this difficult for them to do.
Our HomeStart volunteers provide substantial support all year round but having that extra friendly face and support network over the Christmas period can make it seem like a much brighter time for all of our struggling families.