I am a mum to four children, a grandmother and I have been volunteering for Home-Start Slough for five years. In 2007, when my youngest daughter had started full time education, I decided I needed something extra to do. Up until then I have been able to fit part-time work around my growing children for many years.
I visited a job fair which was being held at a local community centre near to my home and whilst browsed the stalls and displays I came across Home-Start and met two lovely women who did not seem to want me to walk by!
They encouraged me to, “come along and see what we are about”, by joining their training course for new volunteers. Three months later, I was supporting my first Home-Start family and I am now supporting my 5th.
Their circumstances have all been different. Some parents have had social services involvement and their children have been on child protection plans, which is extremely stressful for any family. Other parents have felt isolated with little or no family support. Other families are struggling to cope with issues including depression, adult or child learning difficulties, financial hardship or problems with budgeting, relationship problems and life with a new baby.
Some parents who have more than one young child just need a little bit of support to improve their confidence and parenting skills, for example setting up and maintaining routines.
Through my weekly visits, I have enjoyed building a relationship with every family I have supported. I feel extremely privileged that they have allowed me into their homes at difficult times, especially those parents who have had social services involvement.
I have felt part of the empowering process that has enabled these families to make life-changing decisions for the benefit of themselves, but more importantly for their children.
As a volunteer I receive regular training and support sessions from Home-Start and as a result I have also learnt things which have benefited my own family and I believe, enabled me to be a better parent. But you will have to ask my children that!