Helping mothers give children the best start in life

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One mum’s story: H and S

H is currently getting support from a Home-Start volunteer. “I’ve been to the support group and had one-to-one support in my home. When S was 3 weeks old I was referred to Karen’s Mums in Mind group. It was really supportive, I don’t think I’d be able to get out now if it hadn’t been for the group. It was a group of like-minded mums, we support each other and share what’s going on for us and the babies.

“I was matched with HX when I joined the service and she’s now been supporting me for  seven weeks. I moved recently and she helps me get out to meet new people, so we go to a regular baby and toddler group over the road from where I now live. She helps get me out, socialising with other people who live locally. I’d definitely recommend Home-Start to other mums and recently recommended it to a friend for her mental health.

“Sometimes HX and I just sit together, she’s helping me get in a routine. The very first thing she said to me was ‘Have you got a bedtime routine?’ and that got the ball rolling and changed everything.

“I’m weaning now. Up till this point it’s been frustrating, the feeling I couldn’t put him down wasn’t helping my mental health.

“Working with HX is invaluable, it reminds me the hard parts aren’t forever. She comes early before we go to the group so I can have 30 minutes baby-free to do stuff, it’s invaluable.”

Volunteer Anne is using her considerable experience with young children to benefit North Somerset mums

Volunteer story: Anne

Anne was enjoying a visit to an Open Garden in Portishead when she got chatting to someone on a Home-Start stall. Little did she know that this chance conversation would lead to her helping numerous families with young children navigate the early days of parenthood over the next five years. “The first family I ever helped had twins, the mum had them later in life, she wanted them badly but didn’t realise the impact it would have. When I went round the first day with the Coordinator as I walked through the door the mum just said ‘here, just have them’ and handed me the babies.

“I helped feed them, change them, take them for a walk to give the mum some time. As they got older I played with them. I also helped make an evening meal. I was there for over a year, until the mum went back to work and the twins went to nursery.

“One mother I recently worked with, when I started the baby was a bump and now she’s two.

“I’ve just got a new family to work with. I’ve got seven children, plus grandchildren so you have a wealth of experience to draw on.

“I wish I’d had a similar thing when I had kids, my mum worked so there was no one there to help me. I’ve had mums with mental health, disabled children.

“After a month of going in the mums and kids get to know you, they start to open up, you can see you’re making a difference. You’re non-judgemental and they put their trust in you.”

What is Home-Start North Somerset?

Home-Start North Somerset is a voluntary organisation that supports families who are experiencing difficulties, and have at least one child under the age of five. They recruit and train volunteers who support families within their own home offering non-judgemental, confidential support, friendship and practical assistance specifically tailored to the family’s needs. They also run a group called Mums in Mind supporting new mums and their babies when they aren’t coping so well.

In 2018-2019 Home-Start North Somerset supported 61 families with 85 children. They have recruited and trained an extra six volunteers, making a total of 30. Unfortunately they can only help half the people who ask for help, and they’d like to be able to fill this unmet need but this would mean having many more volunteers like Anne, and more funding.

Quartet’s support for Home-Start North Somerset

Over the last three years we’ve been able to award Home-Start North Somerset with a range of grants including three years of Henry Smith funding worth over £81,000 and grants through the Mall Fountain Fund, Tampon Tax Fund and our Express Grants programme.