Since 1973, Home-Start has helped a million children across the UK. Now Home-Start Slough is calling on those in the Slough & Burnham area, who have received volunteer support, to share their experiences online at www.home-start.org.uk/onemillionchildren.
Home-Start Slough & Burnham is also eager for current and former volunteers to add their experiences of helping families.
The charity’s scheme manager, Janine Edwards, explained: “We have supported hundreds of families in Slough and the surrounding areas and have made an important contribution over the last 18 years to help more than a million children nationwide.”
Rising living costs, low or stagnant incomes, employment uncertainties, welfare changes and the loss of community services are all affecting vulnerable families and Home-Start is a vital helping hand.
Patricia, a former mum who was supported by Home-Start Slough, said of the charity: “As a first-time mum of twin boys, life was suddenly very different, and at times overwhelming and I developed post-natal depression. With little family support, my health visitor referred me to Home-Start Slough.
“I’d never heard of the charity before and had reservations about having a stranger in my home, especially at such a difficult time. However, my doubts soon vanished when I met my volunteer, Carol. She was lovely, very down-to-earth and completely trustworthy.
“She would encourage my boys to learn through play which helped with their development, particularly as they were six weeks premature. As Carol was a mother herself, I often asked her for advice. I felt comfortable enough to do this and I never felt judged by her.
“I was able to open up to Carol about my post-natal depression.
“PND is an illness that is not widely understood, but she was so supportive. Without our chats, I don’t know how I would have got through those dark days.
“Eventually, life improved and I felt stronger and more confident to be able to cope without the support of a volunteer. I cannot thank Carol or Home-Start Slough enough for the help I received.”
Volunteers find supporting families beneficial too, whether it’s through putting personal experience or professional skills to use, or the simple ‘feel-good factor’ they get from helping others. Often people who have had Home-Start support later become volunteers.
Home-Start Slough volunteer, Andrea, said: “I always thought about volunteering for an organisation, but something better always came along – a shopping trip with the girls, a drink out with friends. Or so I thought.
“After an accident at work, I was left bruised and bored. The doctor suggested I take small walks twice a day and it was after one of these walks, when I was sitting down to rest my back, that I noticed an advert in the paper about volunteering for Home-Start Slough.
“I thought, ‘I can do that’.
“I called up and within a couple of weeks I was attending my first training session, sat next to women from all backgrounds and walks of life – married, single, employed, unemployed. We all had one thing in common; we wanted to make a difference to other people’s lives.
“More than ten years later and I’m still volunteering and loving every minute of it.
“I feel that, because I’m supporting a family on a voluntary basis, I’m giving something back to the community.”