At the heart of Home-Start is a team of highly trained, creative, and compassionate volunteers. Last year 60 people volunteered for our Home-Start as home-visitors, group workers, trustees and fundraisers. Incredibly, our volunteers gave over 6,260 hours of their time to support the aims of Home-Start.
By focusing on individual needs, home-start helps families identify their own strengths, increasing their potential to make changes that will improve their lives. Home-Start is committed to supporting families that most need help and works hard to engage families who feel excluded within their community.
With the support of a volunteer, families develop skills needed to access services, counter isolation, build confidence and learn to cope.
Families can be referred to Home-Start by health workers, doctors, schools, social services, as well as referring themselves for support. Working with Home-Start is entirely voluntary for both the family and the volunteer, which means that a special level of trust and understanding often develops between them, and many families engage with Home-Start when they struggle to engage with other services.
2 Based on the Community Development Foundation guideline of £11.09 per hour (http://www.thirdsectorinsight.com/)
Each year around 600,000 five year olds start school for the first time, yet studies estimate that almost half will not be ready for education and do not have basic skills such as being able to hold a pencil, recognising their name when it’s written down, or being toilet trained.3
Big Hopes Big Future school readiness programme, uses specially trained volunteers to help parents prepare their children, and themselves, for the first day of school. A national pilot reported between 25% and 33% showing improvement in their readiness for school in language and cognition, behavioural adjustment, daily living skills and family support.4
Importantly, improvements in language and cognition were particularly evident for children from the most complex families - those who were eligible for free school meals, from families with mental health issues and for those with multiple signs of deprivation.
3 Marmot Review Team, (London, 2010) Fair Society, healthy lives: strategic review of health inequalities in England post-2010., (www.instituteofhealthequity.org),
4 Home-Start (August 2015) Big Hopes Big Future: Evaluation Report England pilot study
It is not only families who benefit from the support of a Home-Start volunteer. We now have evidence that our volunteers are benefiting as well as families.
Volunteering has enabled the people who give their time to build skills and confidence so that they are better able to relate to others within their community, enter the workforce, and improve their health and wellbeing.
Home-Start UK’s report “The Impact of Volunteering on Volunteers” found that there was improvement in volunteers’ personal development, skills development, health and well-being, inclusion in social networks, community, and engagement with the labour market.
The biggest improvement is in the volunteers’ self-confidence.
Home-Start also found a statistically significant change in volunteers’ ability to communicate with others, job related skills, and problem solving.