Making a difference
Home-Start in Suffolk has been dedicated to supporting Suffolk families struggling to cope with mental health, social isolation, poverty, illness, bereavement, family breakdowns and domestic abuse since 1999. Tara Spence, Home-Start in Suffolk’s CEO explains more about the organisation and their ethos.
“Supporting children to become healthy and happy adults is crucial to developing thriving communities and ultimately to making society fairer and more prosperous.” Says Tara. “Parents and family dynamics clearly play a fundamental and critical role in any child’s life; having a huge impact on a child’s health, social interaction and educational attainment. As families break down, there is greater involvement of costly state interventions such as child protection, children in care, educational support and mental health support.”
In the last year Home-Start volunteers supported more 568 families but with over 33,000 children living in poverty across the county and potentially 16,000 families that need the help of Home-Start, the need to recruit more volunteers is ever increasing.
“We believe the best opportunity to break cycles of adversity, reduce the likelihood of children passing on their negative experiences to their children and improve the health and wellbeing of our society occurs in the early years of being a child and those first few years of being a parent and a family. Our vision is to empower parents and guardians with the skills, knowledge and emotional resilience to raise children to flourish.” Says Tara. “We are lucky to have an amazing network of over 250 fully trained volunteers offering regular confidential support and practical help to vulnerable families in their own homes and via the telephone.”
“Our volunteers are what make our organisation special and without their dedication, valued experience and support we would not be able to provide the families with this vital service.”
We asked long-serving volunteer Monica explained what her role as a volunteer means to her.
“Deciding to become a Home-Start volunteer was probably one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I can truly say that I have really enjoyed my time as a volunteer and feel privileged to be part of the wonderful charity that is Home-Start.
“Who’d have thought, that by giving up a few hours a week of my life, I could make a difference to the life of a struggling mum. And the great thing about it is, that most of what I do when visiting a family are things that I really enjoy, like having a chat and playing with and entertaining babies or little children.
I always feel a bit nervous on the first couple of visits to a new family – will we get on? Will the children like me? And then the satisfaction to see week by week the trust develop and our relationship grow, even sometimes into a real friendship.
I have shared laughter, tears, sympathy, worries, family stories and experiences but at the end of most visits, I come away hoping that I’ve made a difference. In one rare case, however, I would often come home and cry because of what was going on in the family but then the lovely office staff and coordinators were always there to talk me through and offer advice and support.
The office team are great and have really made me feel valued. They were especially supportive during my recent difficult times. They were so thoughtful and caring so THANK YOU HOMESTART and WELL DONE!”
With the demand for support from Home-Start growing year on year, and the impact that COVID-19 has had on everyone, it is paramount that the organisation continues to grow and recruit new volunteers so even more families can benefit from the Home-Start support service.
The children of Suffolk are our future. Can you help to give Suffolk a brighter future? Then Home-Start in Suffolk would be delighted to talk to you!
To find out more about becoming a volunteer call 01473 621104 or visit www.homestartinsuffolk.org