A Home-Start volunteer’s account
Just as there is no typical family that Home-Start supports, I would say there is also no typical home-visiting volunteer.’
Some get involved because they have time to spare, enjoy listening, getting to know and help families who live in their community. Others feel they would like to give something back having been supported themselves through hard times. All give their most precious asset: Time. A rare and wonderful thing to spare someone in our frantic and busy lives.
I have been visiting families in North Dorset for 5 years. The premise is simple. Give 2-3 hours a week to visit a family you are carefully matched to, in their own home. The family is on board with the support and so as a volunteer you always feel welcomed in. I have worked with single Mums, Mums and Dads together, very young Mums and ones who have come to parenting late. All the families have at least one child under the age of 5.
So what happens in those 2 hours? A lot of listening, chatting, getting down on the floor and playing with small people, often giving Mum a much needed break. I have supported a few families where mobility for the Mums has been an issue, so I’ve needed to get in touch with my inner 5 year old and raced around the park with the children. One Mum was new to the area and had an 8 month old and felt very isolated. We spent the majority of my visits walking and talking, her working through the difficulties she was facing with a rocky relationship and all the changes that come with being a new Mother. By the end of our time together she’d found new perspective on her situation and a newfound confidence.
I am not there to provide answers or offer advice. We all have to find solutions to our own problems; sometimes it just helps to have someone giving you the space to work them out.
I have been ‘the friend’ for someone attending the Toddler Group for the first time, or going to the dentist, or taking a trip to the library. Or being there for moral support in a meeting with a social worker. We have faced the dreaded supermarket trips with unwilling toddlers together. Laughed together in the face of typical parenting craziness. Sadly a few Mums had escaped abusive relationships and needed reminding that they are doing a good job and it is hard, and they are not alone.
I have never worked with a parent who doesn’t want to be the best parent they can be. I have learnt something from every family I have supported and have taken great pleasure in watching how giving such a simple thing, just a few hours a week can make such a difference. If parents are feeling supported and listened to that can only be a good thing for the children.
If you think this is something you would like to get involved in give Jamie or Heather a ring on 01258 473038 or have a look at the website for more information.
There is a new Training Course starting after Easter and you will always be given a warm welcome and supported throughout your time as a volunteer.