Last Tuesday 5 September 2017 was International Day of Charity and to mark this Home-Start London launched the powerful London Home-Start photo Stories.
Three families from different parts of the capital look back at their incredible journeys with their Home-Start volunteer. These inspiring stories show the invaluable support and friendship Home-Start gives families at a particularly difficult time in their lives. Using their own words, each family tells us how Home-Start has helped them.
To view the families personal and moving accounts please go to the following Home-Start London website link: https://home-startlondon.org/home-start-stories/
The weather was great for this day out. Many of the families had not been to the seaside before and they were very keen to have this experience so we undertook a trip to Southend-On-Sea. This was a hugely popular outing, providing children who rarely access this type of activity, with opportunity to benefit from the excitement, stimulations, learning opportunities and sheer pleasure of a day at the seaside. They had so much to do and see in the Arcades and the rides provided much excitement and adventures. Even the shy children were keen to try as many rides as their parents could afford.
The rest of the day was spent on the beach, kids playing in the sand and dragging their mothers to the shop to buy bucket and spades and soaking their feet and clothes in the water edge. This was such a sight to see. The outing also benefited parents and carers rarely able to afford such trips. They loved the experience and got so much from being with other parents, sharing food and getting to know each other – they gave a very positive feedback about the trip and spoke about it long after the trip itself took place.
Volunteers are at the heart of Home-Start. We depend on their skills, their generous offers of time and their sharing of knowledge to support families, their willingness to act as trustees, raise funds and run a wide range of complementary family support activities.
The ethos of Home-Start is that volunteers support other parents in their homes – not by offering ‘expert’ advice but by sharing their experiences and building confidence and networks of support to avoid families becoming unable to cope.
We know that because they are volunteers and they offer their services because they want to, that their offer of help is different from that of a paid worker. We know that this is especially important for vulnerable and isolated parents. We aim to build recognition of the contribution of volunteers, developing their roles internally and externally.
Home-Start volunteers are parents or have parenting experience. All our volunteers have spent time bringing up their own families and often do not realise they have a wealth of life experience to share with others.
We honoured our exceptional volunteers at an Award Ceremony on the 21st May 2015. We are grateful for their commitment, kindness, and generosity through their selfless efforts to Home-Start Redbridge and a lot of our success is because of our volunteers. What they do is so important and has contributed greatly to Home-Start and the people of our local community who are directly served by their efforts.
We have been fortunate to receive funding from BBC Children in Need for trips and social events. These trips give families an opportunity to get out and visit places away from their own familiar surroundings. Many of whom are on low income value to chance to access these subsidized outings and trips. We give the whole family an opportunity to have a day out together and they are pleased that we offer them a chance to go to these places which they would not normally be able to afford financially.
Our Annual General Meeting is held each year and it gives us an opportunity to have families, volunteers, staff, stakeholders and trustees come together to review the year. Families and volunteers are given the opportunities to have a few minutes to share how HS has helped them and the changes it has made in their lives. Its an information day as well.
Our end of the year party is highly valued by the families. It also gives us an opportunity to say goodbye to the children leaving for schools/nurseries and give them a small gift to take away as a reminder of their time in the group.
Parents enjoy having this time to dress in their traditional clothes and to have a relaxing time, socialising with each other.